The 100+ Best Pieces of Longform Journalism

(Photo: Ian Lamont)

There’s putting words on paper, there’s writing, and a world of difference between them. Longform journalism requires good writing and, specifically, good storytelling. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic reads a lot of it. He’s assembled a list of more than 100 longform pieces published last year that he considers to be the best. It’s sorted into several categories, including personal essays, nature, food, and sports. There are contributions from The New Republic, the Washington Post, Grantland, Mental Floss, and many other sources. Friedersdorf, apparently, reads very widely.

The most interesting piece that I found on the list is this article by Mike Dash in Smithsonian. We've previously mentioned it. The article describes Soviet geologists discovering in 1978 a Russian family that had been living in complete isolation for 42 years in a wilderness in Siberia. Dash describes them:

The Lykov children knew there were places called cities where humans lived crammed together in tall buildings. They had heard there were countries other than Russia. But such concepts were no more than abstractions to them. Their only reading matter was prayer books and an ancient family Bible. Akulina had used the gospels to teach her children to read and write, using sharpened birch sticks dipped into honeysuckle juice as pen and ink. When Agafia was shown a picture of a horse, she recognized it from her mother’s Bible stories. “Look, papa,” she exclaimed. “A steed!”

-via Kottke

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Friedersdorf did this in 2011 as well
The selections are really great, and they are satisfyingly long reads, and include this piece:

Letting Go by Atul Gawande
"Modern medicine is good at staving off death with aggressive interventions--and bad at knowing when to focus, instead, on improving the days that terminal patients have left."
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