This year has been big for the appreciation of long-form nonfiction writing. 2012 marked the popularity of #longreads on twitter, as well as the rise of,, and Ironically, at a time when “writing short” and the brevity of Twitter are celebrated, it’s never been easier to discover and appreciate great works of long nonfiction.

After a hectic year for me — relocating from D.C. to North Carolina, juggling major freelance projects, and taking care of two pre-schoolers — I’m overdue to focus my attention on writing. The last month of 2012 seems like a good time to dive back into the world of longform nonfiction.

The premise is simple: I’m going to read 31 longform nonfiction articles in the 31 days of December. Some will be recent articles, some will be classics. Some will be from major publications; some will have obscure sources. I’ll write my reactions and thoughts on each. I’m doing this primarily as an exercise of reading and writing for myself, but I welcome comments and thoughts on these stories — or my reactions to them — as I go along.

My goal: immerse myself in the some of the best longform nonfiction out there and study the range of techniques and styles. Consider this a pre-New Year’s resolution. Maybe a little bit of this wil rub off on me as I dive back into my own nonfiction work in 2013.

The 31 Longreads

  1. “How to Build An American Car” by Justin Heckert
  2. The Bravest Woman in Seattle by Eli Sanders
  3. Urban Meyer Will Be Home for Dinner by Wright Thompson
  4. Fatal Distraction by Gene Weingarten
  5. Still Richard by David Davis
  6. Atari Teenage Riot: The Inside Story Of Pong and the Video Game Industry’s Big Bang by Chris Stokel-walker
  7. There and Back Again by Nick Paumgarten
  8. Waiting for Bigfoot by Colleen O’Neil
  9. Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was by Mike Sager
  10. A Wicked Wind Takes Aim by Julie Keller
  11. Walking His Life Away by Gary Smith
  12. Netherland by Rachel Aviv
  13. The Secret History of Guns by Adam Winkler
  14. The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever by Michael J. Mooney
  15. Lottery Winner Jack Whittaker’s Losing Ticket by David Samuel
  16. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
  17. The Hard Life of an N.F.L. Long Shot by Charles Siebert
  18. A Eulogy for #Occupy by Quinn Norton
  19. Never Let Go by Kelley Benham
  20. Life of a Salesman by Eli Saslow
  21. A Fighter Abroad by Brian Philips
  22. Battleground America by Jill Lepore
  23. Embedded with the Reenactors by Nick Kowalczyk
  24. A Life After Wide Right by Karl Taro Greenfeld
  25. The Hacker is Watching by David Kushner
  26. Looking for Someone by Nick Paumgarten
  27. How David Beats Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
  28. The Trading Desk by Michael Lewis
  29. Atonement by Dexter Filkins
  30. The Truck Stop Killer by Vanessa Veselka
  31. The Loved Ones by Tom Junod

1 Comment

Mark Armstrong · December 12, 2012 at 12:13 am

Love this series, Matt! Thanks for sharing it.

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