LIFE HACK

Small talk can happen anywhere: The family reunion, the office party, the kids’ soccer tournament, the cereal aisle. For something that’s supposedly “small,” it can be surprisingly stressful – and that goes double during the holidays.

But small talk doesn’t have to mean awkwardly going on about the weather. Here are five apps that can help you stroll into any social situation armed with insights about politics, entertainment, sports actors you sort of recognise, and, of course, master blacksmiths (it never hurts to be prepared).

theSkimm

Great for: Headline news in bite-sized chunks
How to use it: theSkimm provides a daily five-minute crash course on everything from Hollywood buzz to geopolitical shakeups. theSkimm’s membership includes podcasts, reading recommendations, and the ability to sync major events with your calendar, so you’re always clued in to what’s going on in the world.

    theSkimm

    Making it easier to live smart

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The Athletic

Great for: Insider buzz on all things sports
How to use it: The Athletic has established itself as a go-to source for breaking news and in-depth think pieces by the country’s finest sportswriters. Filter by sport, city, or team to study scores, trade rumors, or recap last night’s highlights. Watching the Nascar race? Study up in the app’s motorsports section. Spending a week in Toronto? Scan the latest on the Raptors, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jays. Whatever your sporting needs, The Athletic can educate you in a hurry.

    The Athletic: Sports Coverage

    Local & National Sportswriting

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IMDb

Great for: Basically everything the internet knows about TV and movies, which is a lot
How to use it: The Internet Movie Database continues to be an invaluable resource for movie news, random trivia, and the name of the guy who played the cop in that movie about the, you know, factory. And with the app’s curated lists and recommendations, you can quickly brush up on what everyone’s chatting about—or bring up interesting new series of your own.

    IMDb: Movies & TV Shows

    Trailers, Ratings, Showtimes

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Blinkist

Great for: Speed-reads of thousands of nonfiction books
How to use it: Blinkist employs a sharp crew of editors to boil down best-selling books to their most important points. (Sure, it’s technically taking a shortcut, but you’re going to a party, not writing a grad-level English paper.) By offering snippets in text and audio format, Blinkist lets you gobble up entire chapters of knowledge in mere minutes. Spend an hour or so and you’ll have a small library of talking points to share.

    Blinkist: 15min Book Insights

    Business, Motivation, History

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Great Big Story

Great for: High-quality short videos on pretty much anything
How to use it: Great Big Story specializes in short films about quirky topics, everything from Apollo 11 spacesuits to the history of jazzercise to the master Japanese blacksmith who sells $35,000 artisan scissors. It’s basically the ultimate resource for conversation starters.

    Great Big Story

    Entertainment

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