To eliminate some of the choices that have already been popular—hello, David Grann! ;)—I haven’t included anyone I’ve met in person. All stories from 2010.
Rabbi to the Rescue, by Martha Wexler and Jeff Lunden from The Washington Post Magazine
Spiritual longing, the Holocaust, and the bitter line between the truth and a beautiful story.
TVs Crowning Moment of Awesome, by Chris Jones for Esquire
I know, everybody loved the Roger Ebert piece, but check out the surprises here, including an angry Drew Carey.
An Army of One, by Chris Heath from GQ
Meet Gary Faulkner, American patriot and would-be assassin of Osama bin Laden.
The High Is Always the Pain, and the Pain Is Always the High, from Jay Caspian Kang on The Morning News
Yes, everyone else has already picked it too, but it’s that good. And I bet they didn’t interview him.
The Amazing Tale, by Rick Moody from Details
Read this story to the end. It will blow your mind over and over, and almost never in the way you’re expecting.
And an honorable mention for an entry that topped my list until I realized it was from December 2009: The Last Vet, by Aminatta Forna in Granta. How much suffering can a country take, and what will it value in the aftermath? An essay on empire, war, and the last vet in private practice in Sierra Leone.