Every week, we highlight our favorite stories in our weekly Longreads Top 5, and at year’s end we spend much of December reflecting on the pieces that most stuck with us. But our readers have long been a source of inspiration as well, sharing their favorite stories on social media with the #longreads hashtag and even emailing or DMing us recommendations. So last year we made the Longreads community part of our annual Best Of package, reaching out to them to see what stories they most enjoyed. We’re delighted to keep our newest tradition going, and to showcase eight gems from the year that our readers loved — along with their own words why.

A Black Woman’s Search for Her Place in White, White Vermont

Sheena Dare Romero | Delacorte Review | October 11, 2022 | 7,882 words

A moving study of the mutability of the idea of home; how the word itself can ring so differently from place to place. This piece has such an interesting take on race in America, both from afar — when the author spent time in Germany — and from deep within, at the snowbound confines of a university campus in the middle of Vermont. Romero deals with it in such a tactile, subtle way that I felt like I was coming to the subject completely fresh, feeling her confusion, hope, and frustration almost viscerally. —Rohan Kamicheril

Genuine Risk, Winning Colors, and Regret at the Kentucky Derby

Jamie Loftus | Gawker | May 24, 2022 | 2,550 words

Loftus’ essay is ostensibly about a sporting event, but ultimately, it’s a grotesque glimpse into the psyche of America at a particular point in time. Loftus’ roots are in comedy, so it’s also a darkly funny piece of writing, but it never loses its focus on the violence and excess of the event. When the essay came out, Loftus shared it on social media and joked, “please say no one has done this before,” obviously referencing Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved.” This may draw the ire of MFA lit bros, but I’ll just say it; I like her essay better than Thompson’s. The description of the winning horse is chilling, beautiful, and unforgettable: “After he won, Rich Strike bit a pony over and over, taking what any underdog believes should be their reward, the flesh of their competitors and oppressors served raw. Instead, he got a slap to the face and a rumbling on Twitter, one almost immediately buried by Mother’s Day photos, which got buried by essays about How We Discuss Abuse, which got buried by news of three mass shootings.” —Krista Diamond

Krista Diamond’s essay “That Girl is Going to Get Herself Killed” was one of our most-read originals of 2022.

Why The Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid

Jonathan Haidt | The Atlantic | October 11, 2022 | 8,362 words 

I’ve watched with growing horror how divided the U.S. has become, culminating in the January 6 insurrection. As someone who grew up in an age before the internet, it’s hard to understand how this happened. When I read this article, it seemed like everything fell into place. The Atlantic probably does the best job in all of the media in terms of covering the ramifications of social media on our society, and this was their best story of the year. —David Hirning

How Did This Man Think He Had the Right to Adopt This Baby?

Rozina Ali | New York Times Magazine | November 12, 2022 | 11,674 words

A harrowing, intimate story with incredible details. Most importantly, it connected one baby’s tragic journey with the biggest stakes of the U.S. in Afghanistan, a year after the withdrawal. — Jonathan Guyer

What White Men Say in Our Absence

Elaine Hsieh Chou | The Cut | March 24, 2022 | 2,625 words

I loved Elaine Hsieh Chou’s essay — it’s an unflinching, powerful examination of the writer’s experiences with racism and misogyny, and it speaks to the fear and rage felt by so many Asian American women, myself included. It confronts the cultural forces that continue to feed anti-Asian hate and reminds me of the power and ferocity of our collective voice. —Yuxi Lin

Yuxi Lin’s essay “Love Song to Costco” was also one of our most popular originals of 2022.

Family Membership

Christopher Soloman | Esquire | July 29, 2022 | 2,225 words

A lovely, and sometimes funny, story about a male friendship told narratively while shopping at Costco. — Monica Prelle

The Way We Lose Black Men Never Makes Sense. Losing My Father to COVID Is Another Example

Marissa Evans | Los Angeles Times | March 25, 2022 | 2,603 words

Marissa Evans’ essay, written in the thick of her grief after her father passed suddenly at the beginning of this year, is a time capsule of her father’s dreams, which included his children’s prosperity, a refreshed hairline, and something increasingly rare: living a long, healthy life as a Black man. As the life expectancy for Black men shrinks, we continue to witness even the monied and privileged among them leaving this earth too soon. Evans writes: “My father’s death, particularly as an older Black man, is considered an inevitability we must live with. I can accept my father’s death, but I refuse to accept that the number of Black men we are losing is normal.” —Ko Bragg

Look Who’s Stalking: The Black Leopards of Gloucestershire

Jem Bartholomew | The Economist | July 28th, 2022 | 4,795 words

This investigation into Britain’s big cat hunters is thoughtful, surprising, and, at turns, oddly touching. Jem Bartholomew’s adroit exposition of his subject, Frank Turnbridge, left a lasting effect on me. When reading this article, I felt like I was traipsing through woodlands and winding country roads with Frank and Jem, nervously anticipating the impossible. This is not an investigation into big cat hunters. It is an investigation into those obsessed with the ever-encroaching beast of urbanization. —Christian Hill 

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