Things I Read That I Love #192: My 20 Favorite Longreads of 2015

HELLO and welcome to the 192nd installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about everything! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.

The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.


Hello! Even though this post will be almost entirely articles I’ve already recommended to you in the past, never fear: I’ve also gathered no less than 215 longreads by women for you right here, I imagine you’ve not yet read all of them, and you should check those out. If that number intimidates, NEVER FEAR ONCE MORE: some of the articles I read specifically to put together that women’s longform post will show up in future TIRTLs in 2016.

Also I’m not even confident these were my favorite 20. It was just so hard to pick! But I’ll never publish this if I keep pondering it, so here we are: something similar to my top twenty are right here.

On Pandering, by Claire Vaye Watkins for Tin House, November 2015

“I’ve watched boys play the drums, guitar, sing, watched them play football, baseball, soccer, pool, Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. I’ve watched them golf. Just the other day I watched them play a kind of sweaty, book-nerd version of basketball.”

The Myth of The Ethical Shopper, by Michael Hobbes for Highline, July 2015

It’s impossible for these huge corporations to have any genuine oversight under the conditions in these factories — really eye-opening when it comes to what we can and cannot have real control over when it comes to ethical consumerism. (Because there’s no such thing, perhaps.)

Da Art Of Storyellin’ (A Prequel), by Kiese Laymon for The Oxford American, November 2015

All my English teachers talked about the importance of finding “your voice.” It always confused me because I knew we all had so many voices, so many audiences, and my teachers seemed only to really want the kind of voice that sat with its legs crossed, reading the New York Times.

Not Writing, by Anne Boyer for Bookforum, July 2015

“I am not writing a book called Kansas City Spleen. I am not writing a sequel to Kansas City Spleen called Bitch’s Maldoror. “

Why Do We Humanize White Guys Who Kill People? by Rebecca Traister for The Cut, December 2015

We’re surrounded by and raised on narratives of white men with all their flesh fleshed out, and everybody else stays flat.

Built For Eternity, by Elmo Keep For Motherboard, August 2015

“The Hoover Dam is staggering. It is frankly impossible, even standing right on top of it, squinting in the blinding sunlight down its vertiginous drop, to imagine how it was ever built by human beings; even as I watch old documentary footage on my laptop back in the hotel at night on Fremont Street, showing me that exact thing, I don’t believe it. I cannot square it in my mind. I cannot conceive of nearly dying every day laboring in the brutally dry 100 degree heat, in a time before air-conditioning, in a time before being able to ever get even the slightest relief from the elements.”

An Unbelievable Story of Rape, by Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller for The Marshall Project, December 2015

How a police department ruined the life of a survivor by refusing to believe the story of her sexual assault — which was especially unfortunate as her attacker continued attacking for many years following.

Not Knowing, by Katherine Bernard for The Awl, May 2015

“About me, she starts: “She’s a lesbian,” and the sound goes white. Identity coats everything we do. What does it keep out?”

The Post-Ownership Society, by Monica Potts for The Washingtonian, Summer 2015

This is how the sharing economy seems to enable a bohemian lifestyle while in fact leaving its aspirants consistently, enduringly, asset-free and poor.

The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, by Tah-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic, October 2015

Like Coates’ story on reparations, this is one of those game-changing must-read stories of the decade that everybody living in America should read.

The Content Wars, by John Herrmann for The Awl, 2015

I couldn’t pick just one, so I picked all of them.

My Life In The New Age, by Porochista Khakpour for The Virginia Quarterly Review, July 2015

“It was everything it did not do and did not let me do. It kept me from getting well. It kept me from Western medicine. It did not allow me to reach for antibiotics, the most effective cure we have against any form of my chronic illness, Lyme disease. The alternatives distracted me so much that I never saw the main road.”

The Lost Girls, by Jason Cherkis for The Huffington Post, July 2015

The awful and tragic story of Jackie Fox, who, at the age of 15, was raped by Runaways manager Kim Fowley and never got the support from her bandmates she needed.

Your Son is Deceased, by Rachel Aviv for The New Yorker, February 2015 and When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild, by Nick Pinto for Rolling Stone, January 2015

Two stories about the same horrible police department.

The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning, By Claudia Rankine for The New York Times, June 2015

“…though the white liberal imagination likes to feel temporarily bad about black suffering, there really is no mode of empathy that can replicate the daily strain of knowing that as a black person you can be killed for simply being black: no hands in your pockets, no playing music, no sudden movements, no driving your car, no walking at night, no walking in the day, no turning onto this street, no entering this building, no standing your ground, no standing here, no standing there, no talking back, no playing with toy guns, no living while black.”

What Isis Really Wants, by Graeme Woods for The Atlantic, November 2015

This year felt like a good time to learn a little more on this topic.

I’m No Longer Afraid, by Noreen Malone with portfolio by Amanda Demme for New York Magazine, August 2015

This is an extraordinary compilation that hurts to read. How similar the stories are, how many people were complicit in letting this happen, what it felt like for the women who were assaulted by Cosby at the beginning of his rise and therefore had to hold this secret inside them for all those years when The Cosby Show was everywhere. The world fell in love with this man who had hurt them and gotten away with it, and his fame never really slowed down.

From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself, by Marlon James for The New York Times, March 2015

“In creative writing, I teach that characters arise out of our need for them. By now, the person I created in New York was the only one I wanted to be. Over the next two years, I came and left often, pushing the limits of a student visa. I’d make friends but never get close enough to have them ask me anything too deep, playing at being aloof when I was really just shy, and I’d walk past gay bars, turn and walk past again, but never go in. Back home I fell back into church, knowing I didn’t belong there anymore. Once I forgot to code-switch in time and dashed to the bathroom in J.F.K., minutes before my flight to Kingston, to change out of my skinny jeans and hoop earrings. Eight years after reaching the end of myself, I was on borrowed time. Whether it was in a plane or a coffin, I knew I had to get out of Jamaica.”

The Honeyed Siphon, by Evan Calder Williams for The New Inquiry, December 2014

This techinically is from December 2014, but close enough — I actually remember reading it on New Year’s Day of 2015. My fiancé has Type 1 Diabetes and this essay is about Type 1 Diabetes and it was really interesting and I learned a lot and she liked it to and it was beautifully written as well. So there.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2715 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for a great year of mind-blowing long reads, Riese!

    Love,

    The tiny pieces of my brain

    that are the meaty morsels that got blown up from reading too many things

    and are lying on the carpet

    getting eaten up by cats

    and I don’t even own any cats

  2. I read this response to the “What ISIS Really Wants” many months before reading the actual article here. I was surprised when I got to the objectionable part, as it truly stood out as being appallingly racist when otherwise it seemed as if the author was going out of their way to repeat blandishments about how the overwhelming majority of Muslims were not ISIS supporters (I cannot decide if the constant repition of this fact is a good marker – he really thinks he believes it – or bad – he believes we need to be convinced and that only non-Muslim people are his audience, obviously because if you are Muslim you must be well aware of what ISIS wants without an Atlantic article to tell you, right?).
    Anyway, I do think that he could have made very much the same policy suggestions and educated us all on the inner desires of ISIS not by making it clear that they ARE Muslim, but they BELIEVE they are and will be following certain millenarian and extreme interpretations of Isamic scriptures. There’s a difference there, one that doesn’t drag the faith of millions through blood soaked mud. In the same way, I don’t consider the the terrorists who bomb and shoot at Planned Parenthoods Christians, though they certainly call themselves that and take extreme interpretations of Christian scripture into their own hands. The author says it isn’t for non-Muslims to decide who is Muslim, perhaps it isn’t even for Muslims, but it is for us to decide what we will accept as passing for religion at all. Perhaps ISIS would very much like it to be the seventh century, but it isn’t, and their belief set certainly will not pass muster with me for religion at all.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2015/02/21/scholar-clarifies-walks-back-his-comments-in-atlantic-isis-essay/

  3. My favorites

    ‘Love and Madness in the Jungle’: A brilliant American financier and his exotic wife build a lavish mansion in the jungles of Costa Rica, set up a wildlife preserve, and appear to slowly, steadily lose their minds. A spiral of handguns, angry locals, armed guards, uncut diamonds, abduction plots, and a bedroom blazing with 550 Tiffany lamps ends with a body and a compelling mystery. It’s on Outside Magazine Online.

    ‘The Untold Story of Silk Road, Part 1 & Part 2’: Telling the story of how Silk Road became the leading online marketplace for illegal drugs – and how the seeds were planted for its downfall. On WIRED.com

    I like all of Anne Helen Petersen’s articles but the one on Anna Kendrick is one of my favs mostly because Anna is. ‘Anna Kendrick Vs. The Hollywood Type Machine’ on Buzzfeed.com

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