We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.

Grab the entire list as a Readlist.

On Silicon Valley

Gideon Lewis-Kraus reports on the darker, meaner side of startup life.

Wired: Gideon Lewis-Kraus - No Exit

The Valley might not actually make much in the way of tangible goods, but like industrial centers before it, it’s the place where the astounding success of the very few has been held out to the youth in exchange for their time, their energy, and—well, their youth.

On chat

David Auerbach writes about the messaging wars of the late '90s between Microsoft and AOL.

n+1: David Auerbach - Chat Wars

The messenger war was a rush. Coming in each morning to see whether the client still worked with AOL was thrilling. I’d look through reams of protocol messages to figure out what had changed, fix the client, and try to get an update out the same day. I felt that I was in an Olympic showdown with some unnamed developers over at AOL. I had no idea who my adversaries were, but I had been challenged and I wanted to win.

On lifehacking

In an excerpt from Cubed: A Secret History of the workplace, Nikil Saval examines the current craze for lifehacking.

Pacific Standard: Nikil Saval - The Secret History of Life-Hacking

Life-hacking wouldn’t be popular if it didn’t tap into something deeply corroded about the way work has, without much resistance, managed to invade every corner of our lives. The idea started out as a somewhat earnest response to the problem of fragmented attention and overwork—an attempt to reclaim some leisure time and autonomy from the demands of boundaryless labor. But it has since become just another hectoring paradigm of self-improvement.

On 'Game of Thrones'

Mikal Gilmore interviews author George R.R. Martin about the success of 'Game of Thrones' in print and on HBO, the horrors of war, and killing his darlings (warning: spoilers).

Rolling Stone: Mikal Gilmore - George R.R. Martin: The Rolling Stone Interview

There are some people who read and want to believe in a world where the good guys win and the bad guys lose, and at the end they live happily ever after. That's not the kind of fiction that I write. Tolkien was not that. The scouring of the Shire proved that. Frodo's sadness – that was a bittersweet ending, which to my mind was far more powerful than the ending of Star Wars, where all the happy Ewoks are jumping around, and the ghosts of all the dead people appear, waving happily [laughs]. But I understand where the other people are coming from. There are a lot of books out there. Let everyone find the kind of book that speaks to them, and speaks to what they need emotionally.

On the World's Fair

On the 50th anniversary of the 1964 New York World's Fair, Liz Collins revisits mid-century visions of the future with memories and snapshots of visitors.

The New York Times: Liz Robbins - Recalling a Vision of the Future

The grounds of the 1964 New York World’s Fair were a blur of perpetual motion: Gondolas dangled above the crowds from the Swiss Sky Ride, a monorail glided in the Lake Amusement area, Greyhound Escorters ferried fatigued visitors, helicopters landed on the Port Authority’s helipad and a giant tire Ferris wheel spun.

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Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.