For four years now, the Longreads community has celebrated the best storytelling on the web. Thanks for all of your contributions, and special thanks to Longreads Members for supporting this service. We couldn’t keep going without your funding, so join us today.

Earlier this week we posted every No. 1 story from our weekly email this year, in addition to all of the outstanding picks from our Best of 2013 series. Here are 10 stories that we couldn’t stop thinking about.

See you in 2014.


1. Invisible Child: Dasani’s Homeless Life

Andrea Elliott | The New York Times | Dec. 9, 2013 | 112 minutes (28,000 words)

A story about the system failing our children—through the eyes of one of New York’s 22,000 homeless children.

2. Depression, Part Two

Allie Brosh | Hyperbole and a Half | May 9, 2013 | 8 minutes (2,000 words)

An illustrated personal essay on what it feels like to suffer from depression.

3. Harper High School

Ben Calhoun, Alex Kotlowitz, Linda Lutton | This American Life | February 2013

In 2012, 29 recent and current students at Harper High school in Chicago were shot. Three reporters spent five months interviewing students, parents, teachers, and administrators to get a sense of why the violence occurs and how a community comes to grips with it. A transcript of the story is available, but since the story was produced to be heard, we recommend listening to the audio.

4. Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie

Stephen Rodrick | The New York Times Magazine | January 10, 2013 | 31 minutes (7,752 words)

Director Paul Schrader and writer Bret Easton Ellis attempt to make a film with Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen—with a budget of $250,000.

5. Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

Steven Brill | Time | February 20, 2013 | 102 minutes (25,502 words)

An investigation into the complicated and costly world of medical billing in the U.S.

6. After Newtown Shooting, Mourning Parents Enter into the Lonely Quiet

Eli Saslow | Washington Post | June 9, 2013 | 25 minutes (6,433 words)

Nearly six months after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, the family of one of the victims, 7-year-old Daniel Barden, grapples with what’s next.

7. Taken: The Use and Abuse of Civil Forfeiture

Sarah Stillman | The New Yorker | Aug 5, 2013 | 45 minutes (11405 words)

Now happening in America: Police are using civil forfeiture laws to take money and property from people who haven’t been charged with a crime—and police even allegedly threatened to take their children away if they didn’t comply. In the Texas town of Tenaha, police pulled over drivers and used the roadside seizures to fund an assortment of unrelated items.

8. The Re-Education of Chris Copeland

Flinder Boyd | SB Nation | April 11, 2013 | 24 minutes (6,198 words)

How Copeland went from European basketball unknown to 29-year-old rookie for the New York Knicks.

9. Rah, Rah, Cheers, Queers

Terry Castle | London Review of Books | Aug. 23, 2013 | 18 minutes (4,517 words)

“I feel dizzy, exalted: recognized.” Terry Castle begins to make peace with her mother and finds joy in the experience of being married in a country where it is finally legal.

10. Sell Out

Simon Rich | The New Yorker | January 29, 2013 | 20 minutes (18,824 words)

A serialized novella about a pickle maker from the early 1900s who is transported to modern-day Brooklyn.

Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times, via