The Best of What I Read in 2015

I heart reading

It all started with a man crush.

I devour everything written by New York Times columnist David Brooks and look forward to his annual Sidney Awards, dedicated to the best long-form essays of the year.

Following the lead of my man crush, I also started offering a list of my favorite articles from the past year, first for my friends and family and then years later for The Jesuit Post.1

We live in a seems-too-good-to-be-true world where fantastic writing is available at our fingertips for free. I do not know any of the authors of these articles. They have simply expanded my heart or made me think. I hope they may do the same for you and would love to hear about the best things you’ve read this year.2

1) I Followed My Stolen iPhone Across the World, Became a Celebrity in China, and Found a Friend for Life, Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed3

Hilarious, heart-warming, crazy. This story has it all. Your life will be better for reading it.

2) What Would Cool Jesus Do? Taffy Brodesser-Akner, GQ4

This article about Hillsong, a church that is exploding in popularity, involves a description of Justin Bieber getting a late-night baptism in a bathtub built to spec for a 7-foot NBA center. What? Yes. Read it.

3) How To Get Your Green Card in America, Sarah Mathews, BuzzFeed

Sometimes those not born in the U.S. can be our best teachers for what it really means to be an American.

4) Gate A-4, Naomi Shihab Nye, DavidKanigan.com

Let’s face it: 2015 was a rough year in our world. This short piece was one of the most hopeful things I read this year. Dorothy Day wrote that we have all known the long loneliness and that the only solution is love that comes with community. This article shows it perfectly.

5) Midwestern Nice: A Tribute to a Sincere and Suffocating Way of Life, Paul Kix, Thrillist

Admittedly, this is my nostalgia piece. It’s painfully accurate.5 I felt like I understood the world I come from so much better after reading it.

ta-nehisi coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates, from the University of Michigan’s photostream on Flickr

6) Letter to My Son, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

This article is an adaptation of Coates’s Between the World and Me, perhaps the most talked about book of the year. If you have not read the book, at least read this.

7) The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá, Susan Dominus, New York Times

I felt like I was reading a soap opera. That was actually real. This is an amazing, haunting story.

8) Elon Musk: The World’s Raddest Man, Tim Urban, Wait But Why

Wait But Why has been one of my favorite discoveries of 2015. I now read anything by Tim Urban and devoured all his articles about Musk and his various companies. This one about the man himself was perhaps the most interesting.

9) The Long Haul: One Year of Solitude on America’s Highways, Robert Langellier, Esquire

I love articles like this that give me insight into the lives of people I never really knew about. It takes a great writer to take a topic that I had no interest in but to tell such a great story that I’m entirely hooked.

10) This Is a Story About Loss: On losing things, losing people, and finding God at Unclaimed Baggage Center, Stephie Grob Plante, Racked

Who knew that a profile on a store that sells stuff from unclaimed luggage could be such a beautiful reflection on what it means to lose both loved stuff and loved people?

What have you read this year that has expanded your mind or heart? Let us know in the comments below.

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The cover image by Kate Ter Haar can be found here.

  1. For my list of the best articles from 2014, click here.
  2. In 2015, great writing is coming from so many different outlets, or at least it’s easier to find writing from many places. My past lists were dominated by articles from the New York Times.
  3. Another surprise this year has been seeing how BuzzFeed, known especially for its listicles, has published many fantastic long-form pieces.
  4. GQ requires you not to use most ad blockers or to pay to see the article.
  5. Granted, I think it is particularly accurate in describing Minnesota and Iowa. I am curious to see if people from, say, Ohio and Michigan think it is as accurate in describing their experience.

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