Each year, I keep a running danh sách of exceptional nonfiction for The Best of Journalism, a weekly thư điện tử newsletter I publish. The result is my annual Best Of Journalism Awards. I couldn"t read every worthy piece published last year và haven"t included any paywalled articles or many of the numerous pieces from The Atlantic that I enjoyed*. But everything that follows is worthy of wider attention.
The Art of the Personal Essay
"Normally, I wouldn’t have gone khổng lồ a motel room with a stranger, but I never gave it a thought. I just liked the guy so much, và he seemed so kind & together, that it never occurred khổng lồ me he could be dangerous. But even if he were, I was a U.S. Marine, & of the pure canonical type—hard-core infantry, a rifle range coach at times, finishing the final leg of my four-year enlistment as a scout sniper... & although I served in peacetime, I was not a stranger lớn hands-on violence."
"People were alarmed when I told them where I was going, but I was pleased with myself. I liked the idea of being the kind of woman who’d go khổng lồ the Gobi Desert pregnant, just as, at twenty-two, I’d liked the idea of being the kind of girl who’d go to India by herself."
"While I certainly worried about what I had seen, I could not find it in myself to lớn feel that màn chơi of indignation. I ate my ice cream sandwich and went khổng lồ sleep."
"I was bereft, in agony, destroyed over her death. To experience sexual joy, it seemed, would have been to lớn negate that reality."
"It wasn’t my parents’ music. It was something that was happening right now, và regardless of the color lines placed between it & me, it was something that I was a part of."
"She pulls rank all the time và once judo-flipped me onto my back in a grocery store to remind me where things stood."
"Driving through postwar Yugoslavia was nearly impossible, but a young poet và his new wife struggled through the desolate landscape to Athens."
"I wanted her to lớn say that we were the collateral damage of a nation going through growing pains. Part of me wanted us khổng lồ hug and agree each other khổng lồ death that we were better people than we actually were. But most of me was tired of lying lớn myself & really tired talking lớn white folks."
THE AMERICAN READER / Green Screen: The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why it Matters by Vanessa Veselka
"...there is no female counterpart in our culture to Ishmael or Huck Finn. There is no Dean Moriarty, Sal, or even a Fuckhead. It sounds lượt thích a doctoral crisis, but it’s not. As a fifteen-year-old hitchhiker, my survival depended upon other people’s ability to lớn envision a possible future for me."
GQ / The Old Man at Burning Man by Wells Tower
"It"s something we"ve all been meaning lớn do. The father-son bonding adventure. You know: The big fishing excursion, The road trip down Route 66. Last year, Wells Tower took a completely different approach with his dad: Burning Man, the world"s largest chemically enhanced self-expression festival. They went to witness the Slut Olympics. They went to see the art. They went khổng lồ discover what draws 60,000 people lớn one of the least hospitable places on Earth. Then they mix up camp & took off their clothes."
THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR / At Sixty-Five by Emily Fox Gordon
"A writer faces the contingencies of being old."
TEXAS MONTHLY / The Other Side of the Story by Jenny Kutner
"When I was fourteen, I had a relationship with my eighth grade history teacher. People called me a victim. They called him a villain. But it"s more complicated than that."
SLATE / My Daughter Went Away to Camp & Changed by John Dickerson
"By traveling khổng lồ my daughter"s new turf with the cloak of having been a camper there myself, I thought maybe the bubble might last a little longer. Maybe it would be 10 hours before our old routine closed back around us."
THE AWL / I Am an Object of internet Ridicule by C.D. Hermelin
"Without the sign, without the context, I definitely look lượt thích someone who is a bit insane. That’s how I thought of it, before I clicked lớn look at the hundreds of replies; I figured people were probably wondering why I would bring my typewriter to lớn a park. And when I started reading the comments, I saw most people had already decided that I would bring my typewriter lớn the park because I"m a "fucking hipster.""
VICE / Learning About Humanity on Public Transportation by Chris Gethard
"We didn’t laugh and clap, probably because we were all wondering if there is a point lớn being alive."
Man vs. Nature
THE new york TIMES / There"s a Reason They call Them Crazy Ants by Jon Mooallem
"It’s common in Texas these days for a person who is shown one of these heaps of dead ants to take several seconds khổng lồ realize that the solid surface he or she is scanning for ants actually is the ants."
PACIFIC STANDARD / The Most Senseless Environmental Crime of the 20th Century by Charles Homans
"It was one of the fastest decimations of an animal population in world history—and it had happened almost entirely in secret."
SMITHSONIAN / The Joys và Dangers of Exploring Africa on the Back of an Elephant by Paul Theroux
"They were approaching the camp in the golden dusk, framed by dark trees and the pinky purple sky, kicking through the swamp water và the brush, some of them trumpeting. Each rounded advancing creature was ridden by an upright man, sitting just behind its flapping ears, và though each rider was holding a goad, the stick with a hook that Indians điện thoại tư vấn an ankusha, none of them used it. Instead, lớn direct the elephants, they were calling out commands in English—though not many commands were needed for elephants headed to the security of their enclosure."
NEW YORK đánh giá OF BOOKS / They"re Taking Over by Tim Flannery
"If I offered evidence that jellyfish are displacing penguins in Antarctica—not someday, but now, today—what would you think? If I suggested that jellyfish could crash the world’s fisheries, outcompete the tuna & swordfish, and starve the whales to extinction, would you believe me?"
"With 12 dogs each, we’re looking at nearly 800 dogs within about a five-block radius. The dog factor is crazy, tremendous. Dogs are scratching themselves, snarfing down meat, yawning, whining, wrestling, pissing, drum-majoring their tails. Iditarod sled dogs are mostly not the Siberian huskies you might be picturing but smaller, faster mixed breeds, engineered for tốc độ rather than hauling power. Downtown is giddy with barking. Reportorially, I chú ý falsetto yaps, screams, howls, baritone woofs. There’s something jungle- or apelike about the cacophony. The presence of so many dogs drives all the dogs crazy. When the handlers start pulling out sleds & clipping the teams to lớn their tow lines, the collective canine intelligence realizes that — ohmigosh, ohmigosh — it’s about lớn go for a run."
THE thành phố new york TIMES / Who Would Kill a Monk Seal? by Jon Mooallem
"We live in a country, và an age, with extraordinary empathy for endangered species. We also live at a time when alarming numbers of protected animals are being shot in the head, cudgeled to lớn death or worse."
MOTHER JONES / America"s Real Criminal Element: Lead by Kevin Drum
"What molecule could be responsible for a steep & sudden decline in violent crime? Well, here"s one possibility: Pb(CH2CH3)4."
THE SEATTLE TIMES / Sea Change by Craig Welch
"...changing sea chemistry already has killed billions of oysters along the Washington coast & at a hatchery that draws water from Hood Canal. It’s helping destroy mussels on some Northwest shores. It is a suspect in the softening of clam shells and in the death of baby scallops. It is dissolving a tiny plankton species eaten by many ocean creatures, from auklets & puffins khổng lồ fish and whales — and that had not been expected for another 25 years. And this is just the beginning."
MEDIUM / Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future by Maryn McKenna
"After 85 years, antibiotics are growing impotent. So what will medicine, agriculture & everyday life look like if we thua thảm these drugs entirely?"
GQ / Heart of Sharkness by Bucky McMahon
"It was a show of unprecedented aggression in a surfers" paradise: ten shark attacks in the past two years, three of them fatal. Now the surfers are biting back, calling for a posse to hunt & kill the offending animals. Bucky McMahon paddles straight into the insanely unsafe waters of Réunion island, a little slice of France off the coast of Africa, & reports on a raging turf war between man & beast."
Matters of the Belly
SMITHSONIAN / Can Starbucks vị for the Croissant What it Did for Coffee? by Corby Kummer
"A rising tide of pastry knowledge is very, very good for me,” he says. “It’s good for all living creatures.”
LUCKY PEACH / Dick Soup by Fuchsia Dunlop
"Tackling the flaccid, unsmoked pizzles was something else. Trying not to breathe in their offensive vapors, I stripped off the fur and testicles, lượt thích an extreme đồ lót wax. Disentangled from these impediments và the pubic bone, the pizzles were shape-shifting things, squeezy và rubbery, and encased in slimy layers of membrane. Removing these skins was at times a two-man job, as the pizzles slithered & slipped out of my grasp."
OUTSIDE / Chef Blaine Wetzel"s Quest to lớn Become the Ultimate Locavore by Rowan Jacobsen
"It was such a rare scenario. This little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, right on the ocean, only 25 seats, with its own farm and its own fishing boats. You don’t hear that very often. It caught my attention right away, và then it sparked my imagination.”
THE WASHINGTON POST / Too Much of Too Little by Eli Saslow
"Is it enough for the government to lớn help people buy food, or should it go further by also telling them what to lớn eat?"
THE new york TIMES / The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss
"What I found, over four years of research & reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings & grocery-store aisles — to lớn get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive."
LAPHAM"S QUARTERLY / Last Meals by Brent Cunningham
"In America, where the death rows—like the prisons generally—are largely filled with men from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, last-meal requests are dominated by the country’s mass-market comfort foods: fries, soda, fried chicken, pie. Sprinkled in this set is a lot of what social scientists hotline “status foods”—steak, lobster, shrimp—the kinds of foods that in popular culture conjure up the image of affluence. Every once in a while, though, a request harkens back khổng lồ what, in the Judeo-Christian West, is the original last meal—the Last Supper, when Jesus Christ, foreseeing his death on the cross, dined one final time with his disciples."
BUZZFEED / The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success by John Mahoney
"So why, after almost five decades of science that is vaguely inconclusive or inaccurate at worst, or definitively affirmative of MSG’s safety at best, does the ingredient remain divisive?"
GQ / Dear Leader Dreams of Sushi by Adam Johnson
"North Korea is a mythically strange land, an Absurdistan, where almost nothing is known about the people or, more important, their missile-launching leaders. There is, however, one man—a humble sushi chef from Japan—who infiltrated the inner sanctum, becoming the Dear Leader"s cook, confidant, & court jester. What is life lượt thích serving Kim Jong-il và his heir? A strange & dangerous gig where the food và drink never stop, the girls are all virgins, và you"re never really safe."
Made in America
Erik Daniel Drost
GAWKER / On Smarm by Tom Scocca
"Smarm, whether political or literary, insists that the audience accept the priors it has been given. Debate begins where the important parts of the debate have ended."
THE TELEGRAPH / Hugh Laurie"s Los Angeles by Hugh Laurie
"Los Angeles, và especially the abbreviated LA, has become a byword for the shallow, the ephemeral, the vain – và it is the duty of any right-thinking Englishman, properly cask-aged in rainwater, toàn thân dysmorphia và sarcasm, khổng lồ scorn it. Và it’s not just the British press who feel this way. The rest of the world, và much of America, treats Los Angeles with the same weird mixture of envy & snobbery – qualities that ought to contradict each other, but somehow never do. Well... I’m heading in the other direction. I’m sticking up for the beautiful đô thị of Los Angeles."
TEXAS MONTHLY / "Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money” by Bryan Mealer
"My sisters và I had no trouble adapting. We liked riding in Rolls-Royces & playing shuffleboard on the porch of our new ranch-style house, the one that Dad purchased on a sixty-day cảnh báo from the bank. For my second-grade show-and-tell, I brought a mason jar full of crude oil that Dad had skimmed off one of the rigs. Standing in front of my class, I popped xuất hiện the lid và dipped a finger into the green-black liquid. As it streaked down my hand, the room filled with its sulfury vapor."
WASHINGTON POST / After Newtown Shooting, Mourning Parents Enter Into the Lonely Quiet by Eli Saslow
"The room went quiet as she began reading the names. Daniel Barden. Seven. Dylan Hockley. Six. Ana Marquez-Greene. Six. Six. Six. Six. Seven. Six. How long could one minute last?"
THE BELIEVER / Wanted: Macho Men with Mustaches by Nicole Pasulka
THIS AMERICAN LIFE / The weekly radio show consistently produces some of the best journalism in the country, so much so that creating separate listings for every exceptional story would overwhelm this list. Winnowing them this far as been difficult, but I"d especially urge listening to Cars, House Rules, Taking Names, The One Thing You"re Not Supposed lớn Do, & Harper High School Part I and Part II.
THE VERGE / For Amusement Only: The Life và Death of the American Arcade by Laura June
"During his long, popular tenure as mayor of thủ đô new york City, he shut down brothels, rounded up slot machines, arrested gangsters on any charge he could find, và he banned pinball."
THE AWL / Why Is America Turning khổng lồ Shit? by Yasmin Nair
"The flush toilet has transformed lives for millions but it continues to be derided as a wasteful, almost evil, part of modern life. The charges seem unfair khổng lồ a portal that makes lives easier for so many—there is nothing lượt thích a temporarily dysfunctional one to lớn remind you of the necessary part it plays in life."
GAWKER / My Life With the Thrill-Clit Cult by Nitasha Tiku
"Genital stimulation in a professional context seemed transgressive, even for hippie-hedonist San Francisco."
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES / South L.A. Student finds a different world at Cal by Kurt Streeter
"He was named the prom king, the most likely to succeed, the senior class salutatorian. He was accepted to UC Berkeley, one of the nation"s most renowned public universities. A semester later, Kashawn Campbell sat inside a cramped room on a dorm floor that Cal reserves for black students. It was early January, and he stared nervously at his first college transcript. There wasn"t much good khổng lồ see."