The 25 Most Popular Longreads Exclusives of 2019

The original reporting, personal essays, columns, and collaborations that were our most-read stories of the year.

Our most popular exclusive stories of 2019. If you like these, you can sign up to receive our weekly email every Friday.

1. The Art of Losing Friends and Alienating People

Laura Lippman | Longreads | November 2019 | 17 minutes (4,147 words)

Laura Lippman, admittedly a rotten friend, is bummed by the ways in which friendships end as one gets older.

2. Atlantic City Is Really Going Down This Time

Rebecca McCarthy | Longreads | February 2019 | 14 minutes (3,579 words)

There’s no doubt that Atlantic City is going under. The only question left is: Can an entire city donate its body to science?

3. Whole 60

Laura Lippman | Longreads | July 2019 | 15 minutes (3,660 words)

The Laura Lippman plan requires that you eat whatever you want whenever you want to eat it, and declare yourself beautiful. We’re not going to lie — it’s really hard.

4. Game of Crones

Laura Lippman | Longreads | May 2019 | 16 minutes (4,090 words)

It wasn’t entirely Laura Lippman’s idea to become a mother in her 50s. But when it happened, she leaned in hard.

5. Took You By Surprise: John and Paul’s Lost Reunion

David Gambacorta | Longreads | June 2019 | 20 minutes (5,128 words)

Five years after the Beatles disbanded, a period fueled by intense acrimony, Lennon and McCartney set aside their differences and got back together one more time. Inside the rollicking atmosphere of that May 1974 recording session.

6. The Man Who’s Going to Save Your Neighborhood Grocery Store

Joe Fassler | The New Food Economy & Longreads | April 2019 | 8,802 words (33 minutes)

American food supplies are increasingly channeled through a handful of big companies: Amazon, Walmart, FreshDirect, Blue Apron. What do we lose when local supermarkets go under? A lot — and Kevin Kelley wants to stop that.

7. Is It Ever Too Late to Pursue a Dream?

Matt Giles | Longreads | March 2019 | 28 minutes (6,730 words)

Dan Stoddard believes there is room in the NBA for a 42-year-old rookie.

8. A Three-Day Expedition To Walk Across Paris Entirely Underground

Will Hunt | An excerpt from Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet | Spiegel & Grau | January 2019 | 26 minutes (6,748 words)

Journalist Will Hunt, who made the crossing with a group of urban explorers, recounts being menaced by rainwater and rats — and meeting fellow subterranean wanderers along the way.

9. Bundyville: The Remnant

Leah Sottile | Longreads and Oregon Public Broadcasting | July 2019 | 155 minutes (38,855 words)

Bundyville: The Remnant, a co-production between Longreads and Oregon Public Broadcasting, explores the world beyond the Bundy family and the armed uprisings they inspired. This series investigates extremist violence that results from the conspiracy theories of the anti-government movement, who is inspiring that violence and who stands to benefit.

10. To Grieve Is to Carry Another Time

Matthew Salesses | Longreads | April 2019 | 11 minutes (2,630 words)

Matthew Salesses considers the impact of his wife’s passing, and other factors, on his experience as a human passing through the fourth dimension.

11. Whiteness on the Couch

Natasha Stovall | Longreads | August 2019 | 28 minutes (7,061 words)

Clinical psychologist Natasha Stovall looks at the vast spectrum of white people problems, and why we never talk about them in therapy.

12. I’m 72. So What?

Catherine Texier | Longreads | October 2019 | 22 minutes (5,425 words)

Catherine Texier pushes back against society’s dated ideas about older women, claiming her place among those who are determined to remain vibrant and relevant in the last decades of their lives.

13. The Caviar Con

David Gauvey Herbert | Longreads | February 2019 | 15 minutes (3,739 words)

When caviar-crazed Eastern Europeans flocked to Warsaw, Missouri to poach eggs from a vulnerable species of fish, federal agents went undercover and spent two years to build case against them.

14. Tom Petty’s Problematic Album Southern Accents

Michael Washburn | Southern Accents | Bloomsbury Academic | April 2019 | 20 minutes (3,222 words)

In 1985, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most beloved songwriters made a regrettable misstep with a narrow conception of Southern identity.

15. How I Became ‘Rich’

Stacy Torres | Longreads | June 2019 | 11 minutes (2,629 words)

During a rare opportunity to vacation in Hawai’i, Stacy Torres is forced to confront her status as better off than where she came from.

16. The Hunt for Planet Nine

Shannon Stirone | Longreads | January 2019 | 37 minutes (9,047 words)

What will it take to find the biggest missing object in our solar system?

17. How the Cosby Story Finally Went Viral — And Why It Took So Long

Nicole Weisensee Egan | An excerpt adapted from Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad | Seal Press | 14 minutes (3,614 words)

A journalist who reported on the accusations long before they went viral wonders, “What kind of profession am I in, where stories have no logical reason for unfolding?”

18. Yentl Syndrome: A Deadly Data Bias Against Women

Caroline Criado Perez | An excerpt adapted from Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men | Harry N. Abrams | 22 minutes (5,929 words)

The science of medicine is based on male bodies, but researchers are beginning to realize how vastly the symptoms of disease differ between the sexes — and how much danger women are in.

19. Cut From the Same Cloth

Myfanwy Tristram | Longreads | September 2019 | 14 minutes (3,863 words)

Artist Myfanwy Tristram was irritated by her teenage daughter’s extreme fashions — until she took an illustrated journey into their origins.

20. On Flooding: Drowning the Culture in Sameness

Soraya Roberts | Longreads | March 2019 | 7 minutes (2,006 words)

Flooding (v.): Unleashing a mass torrent of the same stories by the same storytellers at the same time, making it almost impossible for anyone but the same select few to rise to the surface.

21. Total Depravity: The Origins of the Drug Epidemic in Appalachia Laid Bare

Richard Cooke | Excerpt from Tired of Winning: A Chronicle of American Decline | Black Inc. Books | May 2019 | 21 minutes (5,527 words)

Australian journalist Richard Cooke reports on the American opioid crisis through the astonished eyes of a foreigner visiting steel and coal country.

22. When Did Pop Culture Become Homework?

Soraya Roberts | Longreads | April 2019 | 6 minutes (1,674 words)

When art is a should or a must or a have to, when we turn it into a chore, it is the opposite of what art is supposed to be.

23. ‘Nothing Kept Me Up At Night the Way the Gorgon Stare Did.’

Sam Jaffe Goldstein | Longreads | June 2019 | 15 minutes (3,946 words)

The Gorgon Stare, a military drone-surveillance technology that can track multiple moving targets at once, is coming to a city near you.

24. Reading Lessons

Irina Dumitrescu | How We Read: Tales, Fury, Nothing, Sound | punctum books | July 2019 | 12 minutes (3,118 words)

You never stop learning how to read — probably because you also never stop forgetting how to read.

25. The Cost of Reading

Ayşegül Savas | Longreads | July 2019 | 15 minutes (3,811 words)

Ayşegül Savaş contemplates the way women’s and men’s time is valued and the uneven burden taken by women writers in literary citizenship.

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Read all the categories in our Best of 2019 year-end collection.