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Erin Jo Richey

My Top Longreads of 2015

5 min read

As 2015 wraps up, I thought it would be nice to reflect back on the best things I read this year. I skim a lot of things every day online, but to actually sit down and read a longer article - that is a greater feat.

Going back through my memory - and my Pocket account - these articles struck me as both interesting at the time and memorable later on. They are the articles that I might want to remember that I actually read, some time in the future.

If I knew you, I might have even shared one or two of them with you.

In no particular order, they are…

“The Lonely Death of George Bell”

N. R. Kleinfield - New York Times - Oct 17, 2015

A fascinating look at what happens when a man dies alone in New York: who tracks down his heirs, where does his body go, what happens to his estate.

“The Price of Nice Nails”

Sarah Maslin Nir - New York Times - May 7, 2015

This investigation into the dark side of the nail salon industry sparked New York’s governor to issue new measures to help protect salon workers. The multi-part story covers the health risks and economic hardships faced by the people who give you that cheap mani-pedi.

“A Whole New Being: How Kricket Nimmons Seized the Transgender Moment”

Deborah Sontag - New York Times - Dec 12, 2015

The journey of one woman who went through gender reassignment surgery.

“Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism: April Sniper Attack Knocked Out Substation, Raises Concern for Country’s Power Grid”

Rebecca Smith - The Wall Street J - Feb 5, 2014

I missed this when it originally was published, but I heard about it through ongoing discussions of the US power grid and terrorist targets. As a PG&E customer, it piqued my interest.

“Religion for the Nonreligious”

Tim Urban - Wait But Why - Oct 2014

Tim from Wait But Why goes deep and explains his believes on spirituality, consciousness, and connectedness.

“Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.”

David Roberts - Vox - Aug 27, 2015

One of the best articles I’ve read about politics in a long time.

“What ISIS Really Wants”

Graeme Wood - The Atlantic - March 2015

This long article brings together politics, religion, and history to explain where ISIS came from and what motivates the Islamic State.

“A survivor’s life”

Eli Saslow - The Washington Post - December, 5, 2015

My parents are from Roseburg, Oregon and both have spent time at Umpqua Community College, so the shooting there this past October hit close to home. This is a story that we don’t often hear about after a mass shooting, what is it like to be a survivor?


Adrian Chen - New Yorker - Nov 23, 2015

I wasn’t familiar with Westboro Baptist Church or Megan Phelps-Roper before this, but I am familiar with Twitter arguments, trolls, and what often seem like idiotic attacks online.

“Blood Ties”

Nathan Heller - New Yorker - Nov 9, 2015

I like true crime. This one follows the lives of a young murderous couple.

“Troll Detective: Who set Jessica Chambers on fire? The internet is trying to find out.”

Katie J.M. Baker - Buzzfeed - June 24, 2015

More true crime, in a sense. A woman from a small town was killed, and the internet has come together to try and piece together who did it.

“Online Dating Made This Woman a Pawn in a Global Crime Plot”

Brendan I. Koerner - Wired - October, 5, 2015

I’ve heard a number of stories this year involving older women getting scammed and emotionally manipulated when trying to date online. This is one more.

“Living and Dying on Airbnb”

Zak Stone - Matter - Nov 9, 2015

Zak’s dad died while the family was vacationing in an Airbnb rental. As the sharing economy explodes, who's to blame?

“The Murders at the Lake”

Michael Hall - Texas Monthly - April 2014

More true crime. I picked this one up because I was missing Serial.

“Autism’s Microbiome”

Nicholette Zeliadt - The Atlantic - Nov 19, 2015

I’ve been following a lot of fascinating and disgusting stories about gut bacteria and fecal transplants this year. This one has an autism tie-in.

And finally, one that I didn’t read, but I probably should have. According to everyone who shared this article, we’re all going to die. Being from the Pacific Northwest, you can imagine my delight at hearing it’s really a matter of when, not if, the West Coast will end in disaster in a big earthquake.

“The Really Big One”

Kathryn Schulz - New Yorker - July 20, 2015