The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week, read stories by Mark MacKinnon, Rachel Cusk, Carmen Maria Machado, Suketu Mehta, and an excerpt from Bill Hayes.

In this week’s Top 5, we’re sharing stories by Mark MacKinnon, Rachel Cusk, Carmen Maria Machado, Suketu Mehta, and an excerpt from Bill Hayes.

Sign up to receive this list free every Friday in your inbox.

* * *

1. The Graffiti Kids Who Sparked the Syrian War

Mark MacKinnon | The Globe and Mail | Dec 2, 2016 | 63 minutes (15,996 words)

Mark MacKinnon tells the story of Naief Abazid — who, at the urging of some older boys, graffitied a school wall on a lark in Daraa, Syria, at age 14. The “writing on the wall” enraged Syria’s Baathist dictatorship, and became the source of ignition in the Syrian war — a conflict now nearly six years old — which has claimed over 400,000 lives, displaced nearly 5 million refugees, and has had lasting repercussions the world over.

2. The Age of Rudeness

Rachel Cusk | The New York Times Magazine | Feb 15, 2017 | 25 minutes (6,388 words)

When society is as polarized and stratified as it is today, what does it take to imagine a definition of politeness and civility that transcends our differences?

3. The Trash Heap Has Spoken

Carmen Maria Machado | Guernica Magazine | Feb 13, 2017 | 14 minutes (3,731 words)

The power and danger of women who take up space.

4. Queens of the Stoned Age

Suketu Mehta | GQ | Feb 14, 2017 | 23 minutes (5,839 words)

The Green Angels—a collective of weed-dealing models—runs a high-end, multimillion-dollar pot operation based in New York City.

5. What it Was Like to Love Oliver Sacks

Bill Hayes | BuzzFeed | Feb 14, 2017 | 6 minutes (1,742 words)

A moving excerpt of Insomniac City: New York, Oliver and Me, author Bill Hayes’s new memoir of his intimate relationship with late neuroscientist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks.