Emily Perper is word-writing human for hire. She blogs about her favorite longreads at Diet Coker.

The student journalist, the Afghani mother, the elderly custodian, the Chinese orphan boy: each of these pieces forces the reader to stop and consider the extraordinary stories of seemingly ordinary people.

1. “At 99, A St. Petersburg Man Finds Meaning in the Working Life.” (Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay Times, July 2013)

Feature writing wizard DeGregory has found an incredible subject: the wonderful Mr. Newton, who has worked for over 84 years and hasn’t stopped yet.

2. “‘See You on the Other Side.’” (Sara Morrison, Columbia Journalism Review, May 2013)

Jessica Lum, photojournalist, understood the empathetic necessity of storytelling. She practiced her art until she died of cancer at age 25.

3. “Matthew.” (Andrew Yellis, May 2013)

“We met when I was 15 and he was 7. Matthew was always ‘my little brother in China’ … But how can I pretend to really know what it was like to grow up in the situation he did?” Yellis tries to raise a troubled Chinese teen at his parents’ orphanage.

4. “The View from the Sitting Room.” (Angie Chuang, Vela Magazine, July 2013)

Delving into the daily lives of Afghani women, Chuang meets Amina, whose steadfastness saw her family through war, changing regimes and the disappearance of her youngest brother at the hands of KGB soldiers.


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Photo by Andrew Yellis