Longreads Best of 2015: Our 10 Most Popular Exclusives of the Year

This year marked Longreads’ first full year producing original stories with many of our favorite writers. We also published exclusives in partnership with other publishers—and all of these stories were funded by Longreads Members, with a match from WordPress.com

We are thankful for Members’ continued support, which makes these stories possible. Join today. If you contribute $50 a year or more we’ll send you a special Longreads tote bag. 

Below are the 10 most popular exclusives we published this year. You can see all of our stories here

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1. The Rise of ‘Mama’ (Elissa Strauss)

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Photo: arileu

“Like most cultural shifts in language, the rise of white, upper-middle class women who call themselves ‘mama’ seemed to happen slowly, and then all at once.” Elissa Strauss explores how the use of “mama” helped rebrand motherhood for the modern mother.

2. The Answer Is Never (Sabine Heinlein)

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Illustration by Devon Kelley-Yurdin

Heinlein’s personal essay on rewriting the false narrative of childlessness.

3. Glamorous Crossing: How Pan Am Airways Dominated International Travel in the 1930s (Meredith Hindley)

Starting with just a mail route, Juan Terry Trippe helped create a uniquely American luxury experience.

4. The Missing History of Ravensbrück, The Nazi Concentration Camp for Women (Sarah Helm)

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The story of the Nazis’ only concentration camp for women has long been obscured—partly by chance, but also by historians’ apathy towards women’s history. Sarah Helm writes about the camp, where the “cream of Europe’s women” were interned alongside its prostitutes, and members of the French resistance perished alongside Red Army prisoners of war. An excerpt from her book, Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women.

5. ‘I Would Prefer Not To’: The Origins of the White Collar Worker (Nikil Saval)

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Photo via simpleinsomnia

Before the Civil War, the clerk was “a small but unusual phenomenon.” By the end of the 19th century, clerical workers were a social force to be reckoned with. This is the story of their rise, excerpted from Saval’s book Cubed.

6. The Dolphin Trainer Who Loved Dolphins Too Much (Tim Zimmermann)

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Ashley Guidry with Sandy, a wild-caught bottlenose dolphin, at Gulf World.

Dolphin trainer Ashley Guidry loved her job and the animals she worked with—in particular, a dolphin calf named Chopper. But years of seeing how business was done behind the scenes at a small marine park made her come to the painful conclusion that she had to walk away from it all.

7. After Water (Susie Cagle)

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“There is nothing on which we rely so completely for survival, and yet we have done precious little to prevent its waste, its sale, and its destruction.” Cagle’s illustrated story of a Central California town that has run out of water.

8. ‘It’s Yours’: A Short History of the Horde (Eva Holland)

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Illustration by: Kjell Reigstad

How Ta-Nehisi Coates built the best comment section on the internet—and why it can’t last.

9. A Very Naughty Little Girl (Rose George)

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Illustration by Kjell Reigstad

The extraordinary life of Janet Vaughan, who changed our relationship with blood.

10. The Art of Running from the Police (Alice Goffman)

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Photo by Joe Thorn

A young man concerned that the police will take him into custody comes to see danger and risk in the mundane doings of everyday life. To survive outside prison, he learns to hesitate when others walk casually forward, to see what others fail to notice, to fear what others trust or take for granted. An excerpt from Goffman’s book On the Run.

 

Read more from Longreads Best of 2015.