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My Favorite Longreads of 2011

I spend a lot of time reading, whether on the internet or on my Kindle through Instapaper. The latter is an activity I heartily recommend for anyone.

This year, a myriad of compelling, informative, moving longform content was published online, available for free. Here are some of the pieces I found the most interesting. As some of these cover some pretty dark territory, I certainly didn’t “enjoy” reading them all, but if they’re on this list, I found them to be works worthy of your attention. Many of them have significantly changed how I think about the topics they cover, which I believe to be a sign of any well-written content:

How 480 Characters Unraveled My Career – Nir Rosen’s apologia explains how a few careless tweets destroyed everything he’d been working towards for years.

Our Desperate, 250-Year-Long Search for a Gender-Neutral Pronoun – Maria Bustillos breaks out her forensic grammarian hat over at The Awl.

Leaving in a Huff – Eric D. Snider reconstructs the Moviefone meltdown with hilarity and truth.

The Sad Beautiful Fact That We’re Going to Miss Almost Everything – Linda Holmes presents the ultimate conundrum of following pop culture.

Our Universities: Why Are They Failing? – Anthony Grafton not only presents a sobering portrait of American education, but also points to flaws in how we write and conceive of it.

Sweet Emulsion – Scott Tobias explains why we should care that the days of film are numbered.

The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox – A gripping Rolling Stone feature on how young Amanda Knox unwittingly wandered into the midst of an international scandal.

The Hellish Experience of Making a Bad Horror Film – Leigh Whannell describes the nightmare that was making Dead Silence. Glad to see he has a sense of humor about it!

Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door – A Vanity Fair piece on the horrors of domestic sex trafficking.

A Day at the Park – Shawn Taylor movingly describes the emotional struggles of a black father in America.

Parents of a Certain Age – Lisa Miller explores the idea of parents getting pregnant for the first time when they’re in their 50s. Arguments for both sides are presented but Miller definitely has a specific position on the subject. I found her explanation behind it to be thought-provoking.

The Shame of College Sports – Taylor Branch provides a sprawling look at the injustice of college athletics and the travesty that is the NCAA.