Long Reads Of The Week: 1 September

Your essential reads of the moment, curated by Esquire's editorial team.

1 | “Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic – the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” wrote Vogue on the wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Despite repeated attempts to make the story vanish, says The Atlantic, it remains a rare piece of insight into the first family of a bloody, controversial regime. Not from this week, but made relevant all over again.

2 | Harper's writer pays a visit to Tokyo's first "co-sleeping café" – where men pay a premium to nap with beautiful hostesses. It's a strictly non-sexual experience, but you can pay for extras, like having her stare into your eyes, or spoon. A bizarre and curious experience of purchased adoration.

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3 | "Mods felt an obscure pinch of agita at the thought of what their future promised. American jazz and European movies weren’t just crib sheets for how to wear loafers and a cravat, they were permission slips that allowed their audiences to pause and reflect." Ian Penman brilliantly reviews Richard Weight's new book, in the LRB.

4 | Stories from the audition that has made countless high-profile careers: the New York Times Magazine discovers the joy and tribulation of trying out for Saturday Night Live.

5 | From Esquire's September issue – and now available to read online in its entirety – Dan Davies profiles author David Peace, unveiling the events that led to his new novel, a "gargantuan tome" on Bill Shankly.