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 bodies

Logan Hill writes about the pro athlete-caliber fitness programs modern leading actors undertake to get pumped up.

Men's Journal: Logan Hill - Building a Bigger Action Hero

Sometimes that impulse to get fit can disrupt a film. Six-packs and bulky chests can look freakishly anachronistic in a prestige period picture: It's not just that Tudor princes and Victorian lotharios didn't have waxed chests and 12-packs – it's that almost nobody had bodies like these until the last decades of supplements and fitness science.

On Soylent

Lizzie Widdicombe profiles Rob Rhinehart and his high tech food replacement, Soylent.

The New Yorker: Lizzie Widdicombe - The end of food

Eventually, Rhinehart compiled a list of thirty-five nutrients required for survival. Then, instead of heading to the grocery store, he ordered them off the Internet—mostly in powder or pill form—and poured everything into a blender, with some water. The result, a slurry of chemicals, looked like gooey lemonade. Then, he told me, "I started living on it."

On Apple and Samsung

Kurt Eichenwald investigates the rivalry between Apple and Samsung.

Vanity Fair: Kurt Eichenwald - The Great Smartphone War

A year later, Korean newspapers reported that the government had fined Samsung for obstructing the investigation at the facility. At the time, a legal team representing Apple was in Seoul to take depositions in the Samsung case, and they read about the standoff. From what they heard, one of the Samsung employees there had even swallowed documents before the investigators were allowed in. That certainly didn’t bode well for Apple’s case; how, the Apple lawyers said half-jokingly among themselves, could they possibly compete in a legal forum with employees who were so loyal to the company that they were willing to eat incriminating evidence?

On video ads

David Segal digs into the fascinating, byzantine world of online video advertising.

The New York Times: David Segal - The Great Unwatched

Many of the ads were running in tiny players, 3 inches by 2 inches, on the sites. Some were auto-playing. But disappointment turned to rage when she read the list of domain names where the ads were running; it included pornographic websites. The team opened one site with an especially lewd name and gaped in horror. "Oh my God," some shouted. Others cursed.

On evidence

Writer Clive Thompson reflects on the power of evidence and direct observation.

Medium: Clive Thompson - The Moons of Jupiter

I’m a science journalist and a space buff, and I grew up oohing and aahing over the pictures of Jupiter sent back by various NASA space probes. But I’d never owned a telescope, and never done much stargazing other than looking up in the night unaided. In my 45 years I’d never directly observed Jupiter and its moons myself.

For more great longreads, visit our friends at Longreads.

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.