The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week, we’re sharing stories from Emily Bazelon, Alex Ronan, Justine Harman, Emily Harnett, and Sam Leith.

This week, we’re sharing stories from Emily Bazelon, Alex Ronan, Justine Harman, Emily Harnett, and Sam Leith.

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1. Shadow of a Doubt

Emily Bazelon | The New York Times Magazine | January 16, 2020 | 19 minutes (4,800 words)

In 2011, Michael Shannon was wrongly convicted of murder, even though two jurors voted to acquit him—a result of a Louisiana law rooted in discrimination. For defendants like Shannon and the holdout jurors who believed in their innocence, it has left a bitter legacy.

2. Her Sorority Sisters Suspected She Was Pregnant. What Did Emile Weaver Know?

Alex Ronan | Elle | January 16, 2020 | 36 minutes (9,000 words)

In April 2015, Emile Weaver gave birth alone in the bathroom of her sorority house at a small liberal arts university in Ohio. Sorority sisters who’d suspected the pregnancy for months discovered her baby that night in the garbage, dead. Alex Ronan investigates what happened to Weaver, the campus response to rumors and confirmation of Weaver’s pregnancy, and how her community reckoned with questions of blame and responsibility before and after the baby’s discovery.

Content warning: This story covers neonaticide, “when a parent kills his or her baby in the 24-hour window after birth.”

3. The Baron of Botox Is Gone, But His Face Lives On

Justine Harman | GEN | January 14, 2020 | 15 minutes (3,970 words)

A profile of late celebrity face master Dr. Fredric Brandt, who revolutionized cosmetic dermatology with the use of Botox and fillers, before dying by suicide in 2015.

4. Smoke from Underground

Emily Harnett | The Baffler | January 7, 2020 | 15 minutes (3,875 words)

“But the fire will outlive them all, and me. It will outlive my grandchildren and perhaps the human species. It has been burning for so long that it’s possible to forget that it started at the town dump. Centralia is the site of a disaster that sounds too stupid to be real, a trash fire that will inherit the earth.”

5. William Gibson: ‘I was losing a sense of how weird the real world was’

Sam Leith | The Guardian | January 11, 2020 | 12 minutes (3,120 words)

William Gibson talks to Sam Leith at the Guardian about how he got into writing science fiction, how his breakout novel Neuromancer was possible because he knew nothing about computers, the subtle, yet striking similarities that make London and Toyko great settings for his work, and the fact that even in science fiction, you’re lost without your phone charger.