Here are links to articles, essays, tweets, reports, 1990s shoe-store jingles, and books I used in reporting and writing How to Be a Family.

You’re Screwing Up

3. Iceland frequently finishes near the top of the World Happiness Index. The story I wrote about Icelandic swimming pools ran in the New York Times Magazine in 2016. 

4. The Washington, DC snowstorm of January 2016 was dubbed “Snowzilla” by the Capital Weather Gang.

11. Here is an interview I gave about the Diet Coke fountain we installed in our kitchen.

22. Yes, Ruth Bader Ginsburg joked about moving to New Zealand were Trump to win.

23. The play Alia refers to is called Matt and Ben, by Brenda Withers and Mindy Kaling, and someone should absolutely revive it.

New Zealand

33. Here’s the Flight of the Conchords bit about “He may be dead”/”He maybe did.”

40. Learn about New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation here.

44. “Our Bummer Summer” read the A1 headline on Wellington’s Dominion Post on February 4, 2017.

45. Here’s the celebratory essay about the inventor of “Kiwi onion dip,” and here’s evidence that in fact she didn’t invent it at all.

46. Here’s the New Yorker story about millionaires getting ready to ride out the apocalypse in New Zealand which ran the first month we were there.

47. Sonya Nagels’ essay about Playcentre is a great introduction to the facility.

49. Read about Perpetual Guardian’s 4-day workweek experiment. And the study about Maori/Pacific Islander pay as opposed to Pakeha pay is here.

50. That remarkable statistic about flex-time requests being approved came from an interview with an official at Employment New Zealand. 

51. Feel free to purchase items from Fiona’s design workshop Natty.

53. Here are the OECD’s Better Life study results, including education compared across nations.

57. Enjoy Hillary Clinton attempting to hongi in this video.

59. The Maori activist Tame Iti on hongiing your enemy.

61. Yes, Maori students were once caned for speaking te reo in school.

62. Some details about the obstacles still faced by Maori children in New Zealand came from this story.

64. New Zealand has made a goal of 20 percent of the country speaking te reo by 2040.

65. Find more weird statistics about New Zealanders’ relationship to religion here.

67. Yes those numbers about American travel sports expenditures are real.

68. The New Zealand women’s team has now won the fictional Netball World Cup five times!

74. The detail about the rise in international visitors to American national parks comes from this U.S. Travel Association analysis. The New Zealand DOC stats are from this helpful report. The US statistics come from the National Park Service’s comprehensive survey of the American public, which was last conducted from 2008-2009. A fun thing that happened while I was writing the book was that I emailed the same poor guy in the NPS public affairs office over and over asking for the updated survey, which he first believed would be done in late 2017, then late 2018, then “before the end of the winter” of 2018-2019, and then “some time in July.” As far as I can tell it has still not been published. 

79. Read all about “The Attention-Getting Capacity of Whines and Child-Directed Speech” in this 2010 research study from the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

86. Here’s a photo of Iron Brian, the character who tells New Zealand schoolchildren about the power of meat.

87. Learn all about the Whanganui River’s legal personhood thanks to the Te Awa Tupua bill.

91. The story about the goddess and the sandflies comes from a Tourism New Zealand site, of all places.

97. You can read Ashleigh Young’s gorgeous essay “On Any Walk” on Slate dot com.

The Netherlands

108. The Oude Kerk leans about two meters off center. There’s a great photo of it on Wikipedia.

108. Here’s a little more about the Dutch Golden Age and taxation based on frontage.

112. Here’s UNICEF’s report on the happiness of children in wealthy nations.

113. I list it below in the books section but I want to specifically point out how valuable The Happiest Kids in the World, by Michele Hutchison and Rina Mae Acosta, was to the writing of this section.

114. Here’s more information about the No-Face Duck Phantom Duck Eurasian coot.

116. In the end Lyra did help to edit the book. Soon you’ll be able to read more about that!

118. The Delft gunpowder explosion of 1654, also called the “Dutch Thunderclap,” was a hell of a thing. Not to be missed: Egbert van der Poel’s painting of the aftermath.

120. Salma Hayek’s daughter loves slime!

121. Sales of Elmer’s glue are through the roof!

123. It’s true that I did go on the radio in New Zealand and give my email address to the entire country. Thanks, Radio NZ!

128. Here’s the OECD’s ranking of the Dutch education system.

132. “Revolting Children,” from Tim Minchin’s musical Matilda.

133. Millions of car owners in the Netherlands are overinsured.

135. All about the extremely strict Dutch school attendance law.

138. I wrote about my cycling journey across Provence with my dad in GQ.

139. Plenty of amazing Dutch cycling statistics here. Also, that statistic about e-bike sales is already out of date; Dutch people now buy more e-bikes than standard bikes. And here’s the City of Boston statistics about dooring.

140. I calculated the fatality numbers in Dutch and American cycling from these sources. This Times story has the results of the Utrecht University study on the economic benefits of cycling

141. And here’s that unbelievable Waze survey showing Dutch drivers are the most satisfied in the world.

144. Here’s a video of the amazing Rube Goldberg machine at the NEMO science museum in Amsterdam, which I’ve just now realized I referred to as MENO in the book. I regret the error.

146. Here’s a weird, mostly accurate 3D animation of the roundabout at Delflandplein. And here’s a dataviz of Dutch intersection safety that shows that Delflandplein saw zero crashes between 2014 and 2017.

146. The numbers on cars in the Netherlands come from Willem Frijhoff and Marijke Spies’ Dutch Culture in a European Perspective. Or really they came from this Google Books search

147. Some good resources on the history of cycling advocacy in the Netherlands: Pete Jordan’s In the City of Bikes; this London Cycling Campaign article; this blog post by David Hembrow, whose blog A View From the Cycle Path is jam-packed with great information.

167. Here’s Ron Lieber’s great allowance plan.

Costa Rica

186. The writer who tweeted about úht-cearu was Robert Macfarlane.

187. The divergence of pay and productivity in America.

187. Costa Rica’s plan to ban single-use plastics.

189. That big-ass blue bird is the white-throated magpie-jay.

192. Here, I am proud to say, is the song from the Shoe City ad. It’s by “Eric, Damon and DeVaughn.” It still rules.

193. Geoff Dyer’s “Is Travel Writing Dead?”

197. All about the lack of addresses in Costa Rica.

198. E-commerce in Costa Rica, and Amazon’s growing position as a job provider in the country.

199. Stay in Villas Espavel! It’s great!

203. Crime statistics for Costa Rica.

220. A Marketplace report on retirees flocking to Costa Rica.

221. Here’s Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones. I wouldn’t say I recommend it.

234. This very short video captures a duck monkey in action.


241. A brief history of General Tso’s Chicken.

243. “Go Midwest, Young Hipster,” says the New York Times. “Move to a Swing State,” says Slate.

247. More about the federal government’s subsidies for flights to small airports.

254. It’s us in the Hays Post!

256. Eric Kilenberg on libraries and social infrastructure.

261. If you’d like to watch A Quiet America, you can order it on DVD from the Hays Arts Council.

263. Mark O’Connell on New Zealand.

273. Elizabeth McCracken on elevator buttons.

277. That University of Zurich study about walking creating happiness is cited here.

277. “Kansas Is Flatter Than a Pancake,” Mark Fonstad, William Pugatch, and Brandon Vogt, The Annals of Improbable Research, 2003.

279. Compare Hays High with an Arlington high school.

281. Korie Brown on Kansas agriculture in New Food Economy.

283. The Times on the dangers of farm kids working heavy machinery.

286. An interview with Robert Wuthnow in Religion & Politics.

290. Please enjoy Catherine’s extremely funny essay about running the Hays United Methodist Christmas pageant. 

292. Sarah Smarsh on the heartland and the red state-blue state divide.

294. Minority students discuss the environment at Fort Hays State.

294. In the Times, ZZ Packer cites political scientist Ian Ward on the shortcomings of niceness.

Books I found helpful while writing How to Be a Family
Pip Adam, I’m Working on a Building
Pip Adam, The New Animals
Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett, Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality
Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
Eleanor Catton, The Rehearsal
Ian Frazier, Great Plains
Michele Hutchison and Rina Mae Acosta, The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less
Pete Jordan, In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist
Maile Meloy, Do Not Become Alarmed
Emma Neale, Billy Bird
Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
Colin White and Laurie Boucke, The UnDutchables
Emily Writes, Rants in the Dark
Robert Wuthnow, Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in the American Heartland
Ashleigh Young, Can You Tolerate This?