It's December! Let's make lists!
With the recent additions to our popular Zinio digital magazine service, it seems we've been all about magazines this year. And why not? While some bemoan how the web has supposedly zapped of us of our attention spans (Who is this 'us' they're always talking about anyway? Around here, our attention spans are tiptop, thank you), there is no lack of truly excellent longform magazine writing happening right now.
So, for my first list of the annual end-of-year List Season, here's one for all the desk jockeys out there: Top 5 Longform Magazine Articles from the Web in 2014.
1. "Dropped" by Jason Fagon in Grantland
The is the best (actually, the only) think piece I've ever read about competitive juggling. It's also everything you could want in a thoughtful profile of a modern athlete.
2. "This Old Man" by Roger Angell in The New Yorker
Sports fans will know Roger Angell from baseball classics like The Summer Game and A Pitcher's Story, as well as his writing for the The New Yorker. In this beautiful capstone piece, Angell gives us a glimpse inside the mind of a vital 93-year-old man with great warmth and wit.
3. "The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit" by Michael Finkel in GQ
Survivalism is cool again (somewhere the ghosts of our frontier forefathers must be shaking their heads in disbelief) and it seems people everywhere are preparing to drop out and take to the woods before the zombies show up. Here, Michael Finkel profiles one man who really did it -- and for nearly 30 years at that! While Christopher Thomas Knight (the titular hermit) made some serious and perhaps even criminal missteps along the way, you'll be left marveling at just how sane he seems, perhaps a bit saner than many of us.
4. Sea of Crises by Brian Phillips in Grantland
Let's get this out in the open, this is one of the best pieces of longform journalism you'll ever read and, yes, it's about sumo wrestling, very heavy, nearly naked men pushing each other around in circular ring. But it's also about the dreamlike quality of living within tradition and the flow of time, as well as Yukio Mishima, the great Japanese novelist who famously committed ritual suicide by seppuku in a government office building in 1970, and a missing samurai sword. What more could you ask for?
5. "Miss American Dream" by Taffy Brodesser-Akner in Medium
Did you know Britney Spears is still a thing? Me either, but apparently she is and lots of people still love her. In 2013, Britney began a two-year residency in Las Vegas. In this funny and thought provoking piece, Brodesser-Akner captures Vegas and Britney in all their kitschy, sticky madness and unexpectedly finds herself playing the reluctant apologist for Ms. Spears, whom she has come to recognize as a modern day feminist icon.
Read any great magazine writing this year? Tell us about it in the comments and be sure to include a link!