My 2012 Longreads of the Year

by Casey Newton


This year I decided to keep track of my favorite stories from the year so that in December, when all my friends are hopping onto planes to celebrate the holidays with their families, they'll have lots of good stuff to add to their Pocket and Instapaper queues. Here are the pieces I couldn't put down.

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy, by Kathleen McAuliffe.
An insanely fascinating, and frightening, look at how parasites can change the behavior of all those around them. Including us. If you read nothing else on my list, read this one.

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs, by Greg Smith.
Question his motives or his timing all you want, but Smith's parting shot at his former employer offered a searing and reasoned critique of a banking system run amok.  

The Best Night $500,000 Can Buy, by Devin Friedman
A bizarre, funny ride through the upside-down world of the Las Vegas nightclub scene. 

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, make a devastating case against the modern Republican party and its lurch toward the right.

Bath Salts by Nathaniel Woo
Woo's up-close look at America's drug du jour offers a harrowing trip through the madness that bath salts inspire. 

Cocaine Incorporated by Patrick Radden Keefe
An unusually dogged effort to tease out the size and scope of the global cocaine economy finds an industry that is effective, hugely complicated, and spectacularly violent. 

10 Timeframes by Paul Ford
A clever and deeply humane lecture to a room of interaction designers on how to think about time, and why.

The Onion Endorses John Edwards For President
We take the Onion for granted at our peril; they were indispensable in this election cycle, indeed all year; and were never funnier than in their acid recommendation for president. 

An Oral History of The Wire by Mark Spitz
We are living in a golden age of oral histories; this one, of everyone's favorite TV show ever, was thankfully chockablock with behind-the-scenes storytelling and thoughtful reflection. 

Don't Eat Fortune's Cookie by Michael Lewis
A charmingly humble meditation on the role of luck in success, delivered as a contrarian graduation speech. 

Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web By Adrian Chen
Chen's unflinching portrait of an Internet troll raised provocative questions about how Reddit became complicit in the ugly behavior of one of its most powerful moderators.

Cooking Isn't Creative, and It Isn't Easy by Alex Halberstadt
An expert portrait of a fascinating man -- Christopher Kimball, the bowtied weirdo behind Cook's Illustrated -- that lurches from one memorable scene to the next, giddily capturing an American original.

Feel the Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Mark Leibovich
A moving, upsetting reflection on the grotesque cynicism of the modern presidential campaign, and a poignant plea that candidates come together to acknowledge one another's basic decency.