Longform You Have to Read: Writers’ 2014 Favorites


In a world where you have more options for satisfying longform reading than ever, your friends here at Flavorwire are taking the time once a week to highlight some of the best that journalism and longform has to offer. Whether they’re unified by topic, publication, writer, being classic pieces of work, or just by a general feeling, these articles all have one thing in common: they’re essential reading. This week, we’re letting journalists take the lead, and highlighting five journalists’ favorite pieces that they wrote in 2014.

On Tuesday, writer Rachel Syme tweeted a question:

One hundred and eight writers replied with a whole range of pieces, and Syme compiled the bulk of them into a Storify document. It’s a ton of great reads, and we picked five of our favorites here:

Reading and Mourning a Friend,” by Alanna Okun, BuzzFeed, April 2014

Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness is a moving collection from the late writer, who was only 22 when she died in a car accident in 2012, after her graduation from Yale. The book is both a tribute to her extraordinary talent and, in its way, frustrating, considering that in a more fair world, it would be considered a collection of bright, precocious juvenilia. Okun, who knew Keegan at Yale, writes beautifully about her friend and her ascendant talent, in a piece that shows just how special and observant Keegan’s writing shone, for such an unfairly short time on earth.

Giving an ‘F’: Rewriting the History of FSG,” by Willy Blackmore, The Awl, April 2014

On the occasion of Boris Kachka’s book Hothouse, a history of the publishing company Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, Blackmore, John Farrar’s great-grandson, delves into his own family history in order to explore publishing from a personal angle. He gives Farrar depth, discussing the man’s own literary writings, and shows how publishing has changed since his relative’s debut.

A Paper Mill Goes Quiet, and the Community It Built Gropes For a Way Forward,” by Jess Bidgood, The New York Times, August 2014

Bidgood takes you to a small town in Maine where the main economic driver, the local paper mill, has closed. She shows how small towns grapple with this sort of change, and the destruction and empty glass storefronts left in the wake. The portrayal of Millinocket, Maine’s residents and the quotes that she gets are very moving.

Welcome to Colon, Magic Capital of the World,” by Kyle Chayka, The Verge, September 2014

The magic capital of the world is a tiny little town in Michigan, and Chayka reports from Abbott’s Magic Get Together, where all of your favorite illusionists ply their trade at a conference-cum-family reunion. Funny and sweet at the same time.

Girls Fight Out,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Matter, December 2014

Taffy Brodesser-Akner may be the hardest-working cultural journalist in the business (one week profiling Transparent, the next week a somnolent Nicki Minaj), and it’s fun to see her take on American traditions as a subject. In this piece, the business, beauty, and aggression of UFC are vividly brought to life.