The Believer's Karolina Waclawiak: My Top 5 Longreads of 2011

Karolina Waclawiak is a novelist and screenwriter. She is also the deputy editor of The Believer. Her first novel, How To Get Into The Twin Palms, will be out July 2012 from Two Dollar Radio.

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I’ve always been fascinated with religion, Russia, and missing persons stories so these five nonfiction pieces really captured my attention this year. The fallout from The New Yorker‘s Scientology piece turned out to be as compelling as the essay itself—and I had to put The New Yorker on here twice because the recent piece on Vladimir Putin is spectacular and continually evolving. Paul Collins’ piece on missing Barbara Follett was utterly haunting and Paul is a master of uncovering long-hidden mysteries. Everyone should check out all of his work, and I’m sure many have after reading that piece. And really, for the other two, who can turn away from secret cults and dead bodies found on beaches? Not me.

1. “The Civil Archipelago,” David Remnick, The New Yorker

2. “The Apostate,” Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker

3. “The Body on Somerton Beach,” Mike Dash, Smithsonian

4. “Inside ‘The Order,’ One Mormon Cult’s Secret Empire,” Jesse Hyde, Rolling Stone

5. “Vanishing Act,” Paul Collins, Lapham’s Quarterly

BONUS

“Love in a Cold Climate,” Nancy Jo Sales, Vanity Fair

Say what you will of Ms. Love, but she’ll always have a fan in me. 

“To Have and Have Not,” Matt Tyrnauer, Vanity Fair

I found myself endlessly quoting this piece on screen legend Lauren Bacall.

“Judy Lewis, Secret Daughter of Hollywood, Dies at 76,” Paul Vitello, The New York Times

NY Times’ fascinating obituary of Loretta Young’s illegitimate daughter with Clark Gable, Judy Lewis.

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