The Awl's Choire Sicha, Carrie Frye, Alex Balk: Our Top Longreads of 2011

(Left to right: Choire, Carrie, Alex)

Because there are three of us, we trilaterally decided to go for 15. But it’s not really five each; that becomes complicated, too, but… well, anyway, no matter how you cut it, surely at least one of us hated some of these stories. Also to be fair, this list, which is not in order, should really be called “The 15 Best Longreads That We Can Still Remember From 2011—What A Year, Am I Right, Oh Man, It’s December Somehow—After Extensive Googling and Mind-Nudging (Also Only Stories That We Didn’t Publish Ourselves, Because We Could Easily Cough Up 25 Longreads From Our Own Archives That Are Totally As Good Or Better And Also Have Better Gender Parity Probably But Anyway We Don’t Roll Self-Promotionally Like That).” FUN BONUS: Only three of the 15 best stories of the year (yes, sure, that we can remember) were in The New Yorker, so they are ranked in order. — Alex Balk, Carrie Frye, Choire Sicha of The Awl. (See their #longreads archive here.)

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• James Meek, “In the Sorting Office,” London Review of Books

• Tess Lynch, “No Actor Parking,” n+1

• David Roth, “Our Pizzas, Ourselves”

• Paul Ford, “The Web Is A Customer Service Medium”

• Katie Baker, “The Confessions of a Former Adolescent Puck Tease,” Deadspin

• Emily Gould, “Our Graffiti”

• Jim Santel, “Living Out the Day: The Moviegoer Turns Fifty,” The Millions

• John Jeremiah Sullivan, A Rough Guide to Disney World, The New York Times Magazine

• Anna Holmes, “Spotlighting the work of women in the civil rights movement’s Freedom Rides,” Washington Post

• Michael Idov, “The Movie Set That Ate Itself,” GQ

• Evan Hughes, “Just Kids,” New York Magazine

• Tim Dickinson, “How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich,” Rolling Stone

BONUS:

The year’s three best New Yorker stories, in order:

3. Keith Gessen, “Nowheresville: How Kazakhstan is building a glittering new capital from scratch” (sub. required)

2. David Grann, “A Murder Foretold: Unravelling the ultimate political conspiracy”

1. Kelefa Sanneh, “Where’s Earl? Word from the missing prodigy of a hip-hop group on the rise” (sub. required)

ACTUAL BONUS BONUS:

Paul Collins’ “Vanishing Act” (Lapham’s Quarterly), about Barbara Newhall Follett, was published in the last twelve months, but on December 18, 2010, so to avoid the problem of the year-end list that’s published before the end of the year, ahem, we include it here honorarily.