The end of the year brings many feelings, so let us remind you of one of our favorites: The sensation you get when you’ve just finished reading something so captivating and spot-on that you’re itching to share it with everyone you know.
It’s a feeling familiar to the writers behind the incredible journalism featured in Pocket’s Best of 2020 collection. So we asked them: What were the most memorable stories they read this year? Read on for the hidden gems that wowed them, that were seared in their minds, and that deserve a tip of the hat.
I Press ExecuteHazlitt
Jeremy D. Larson:
“This is one of those essays that lights up every part of my brain and takes a totally new and remarkably challenging path to the summit. It's about our relationship to technology but its spokes include: early computing, proto synthesizers, James Joyce, a deep dive into Bulgarian folk music, and Prince. All in service of trying to dissect Kate Bush's broken heart on one song from her 1989 album. A dazzling read.”
Read and Save Jeremy D. Larson's Pitchfork story, Why Do We Even Listen to New Music?, Featured in Pocket’s Best Culture Stories of 2020.
The Woman Shaking Up the Diamond IndustryThe New Yorker
“I'll read anything Ed Caesar writes. But this was my kind of story. A slightly niche-y subject with a great character at the center and a fascinating world to dive into. I'd probably read a book on this.”
Read and Save Josh Dean’s GQ story, The Great Buenos Aires Bank Heist, featured in Pocket’s Best Long Reads of 2020.
Inside the Revolutionary Treatment That Could Change Psychotherapy ForeverElemental
“This deeply-reported piece did more than introduce me to a new form of therapy and the patients being treated by it. It gave me a new framework for understanding the mind, one that I think can help all of us make sense of the seemingly warring factions within us — the part of us that wants to be in tune with our body and the part that's compelled to down a pint of ice cream; the part of us that's confident, and the part that tells us we're incapable.”
Read and Save Rhaina Cohen’s Atlantic story, What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?, featured in Pocket’s Best Culture Stories of 2020.
The Rowdy Queer and Trans Wrestling League BLOWW-ing Stereotypes AwayThe Daily Beast
“I loved this story by Britni de la Cretaz about a queer and trans wrestling league in Boston, because it shows how compelling sports can be when they exist outside a gendered and capitalist framework. They write about how a league like this not only opens the literal playing field to people and bodies traditionally excluded from both the athleticism and performance of sports but also makes room for a fanbase similarly excluded from safely watching sports or stepping foot in an arena. Britni has been reporting on sports in this sort of framework-busting way for a long time, and we need more sports writers like them!”
Read and Save Julia Sklar’s National Geographic story, ‘Zoom Fatigue’ Is Taxing the Brain. Here's Why That Happens, featured in Pocket’s Best of Life in 2020 Stories.
I Went to Disney WorldThe Atlantic
“A poignant meditation on the happiest place on earth.”
Read and Save James Hamblin’s Atlantic story, You're Showering Too Much, featured in Pocket’s Best of Life in 2020 Stories.
Blockchain, the Amazing Solution for Almost NothingThe Correspondent
“This is a brilliant article by the investigative journalist Jesse Frederik in which he savagely bursts the blockchain-hype. As a developer says in this piece: ‘You could also use a forklift to put a six-pack of beer on your kitchen counter. But it’s just not very efficient.’”
Read and Save Rutger Bregman’s Guardian story, The Real Lord of the Flies: When Six Boys Were Shipwrecked for 15 Months, featured in Pocket’s Most-Read Stories of 2020.
Mr. Chen Goes to Wuhan [LISTEN]This American Life
“When I heard this piece in February, the horrors of the novel coronavirus that it captured through the story of the eccentric Chinese video blogger Chen Qiushi were eye-opening. Like most Americans, I had no idea those same horrors were about to arrive in the U.S., and particularly my hometown of New York. For the last nine months, the details Chen captured in Wuhan have continued to resonate with me as my first real warning of what was to come, in the form of a perfectly constructed radio story.”
Read and Save Andy Greenberg’s Wired story, The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet, featured in Pocket’s Most-Read Stories of 2020.
Throwaway Kids: ‘We Are Sending More Foster Kids To Prison Than College’The Kansas City Star
The Kansas City Star
ran an extraordinary series of articles about the awful state of Kansas's department of child protection. It's shocking and eye-opening. The kind of investigative journalism that should win a Pulitzer.”
Read and Save Dan Hurley’s Discover story, The Quantum Internet Will Blow Your Mind, featured in Pocket’s Best Tech Stories of 2020.
Insane After Coronavirus?London Review of Books
R. Eric Thomas:
“No one writes like Patricia Lockwood, mixing humor and sharp observations and a dizzying sense of chaos in a seemingly effortless way. I've found myself thinking about her July reflection on her experience after contracting coronavirus and encountering Covid deniers a lot lately. Like so much of her writing, it seems prophetic now, filled to the brim with black humor and uncomfortable truth.”
Read and Save R. Eric Thomas’s ELLE story, It Does Not Matter If You Are Good, featured in Pocket’s Best Racial Justice Stories of 2020.
“It’s Amazing to Me How Distinctly I Remember Each of These Women”Slate
“A few months before she passed, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat for an interview with my colleague, Dahlia Lithwick. Justice Ginsburg walked us through intimate details of her time in law school, and the few other women in her class. It's beautifully written and really feels like one of those pieces that will need to be archived. Truly a masterful and timeless work.”
Read and Save Aymann Ismail’s Slate story, The Store That Called the Cops on George Floyd, featured in Pocket’s Best Racial Justice Stories of 2020.
What My Dad Gave His ShopThe Atlantic
“This story by Francesca Mari is a lovely tribute to the person who raised her and what happened to him and his business when the pandemic arrived; it's also a frank and unsparing look at the reality behind all the quaint local shops that we say we adore, even as many of us heedlessly participate in the larger systems that help destroy them.”
Read and Save Zach Baron’s GQ story, The Conscience of Silicon Valley, featured in Pocket’s Best Tech Stories of 2020.
Nuclear War Is Unlikely To Cause Human ExtinctionLessWrong
“It has been a year in search of small comforts, and one of them, it turns out, is that even an all-out nuclear war targeting population centers and optimizing for the maximization of death is unlikely to cause human extinction. ‘It would be almost impossible to kill every human via radiation with the existing nuclear arsenals, even if they were targeted explicitly for this purpose,’ the biologist and security consultant Jeffrey Ladish writes, in this fascinating post on
. Starvation by loss of agriculture, in a climate-altering nuclear winter, ‘would likely kill most people on earth,’ he continues — but not everyone. I sleep better already.”
Read and Save Ben Taub’s New Yorker story, 36,000 Feet Under the Sea, featured in Pocket’s Best Science Stories of 2020.
He Has 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer and Nowhere to Sell ThemThe New York Times
“This was the most memorable article I read and passed along this year. Because it said everything about 2020: Coronavirus, fear, Purell, hoarding, desperation and a world in flames.”
Read and Save Mark Seal’s Vanity Fair story, Inside Ghislaine Maxwell’s Life on the Lam, featured in Pocket’s Best Long Reads of 2020.
Marilynne Robinson’s Essential American StoriesThe New Yorker
“This is one of the purest, loveliest reading experiences I had all year — and so exactly what my COVID-addled nerves needed. Marilynne Robinson is a miracle of a writer and Casey Cep captures her perfectly. ‘One of Robinson’s schoolteachers told her that “one must make one’s mind a good companion, because you live with it every minute of your life,” advice that she either took to heart or never required.’”
Read and Save Elizabeth Weil’s ProPublica story, They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?, featured in Pocket’s Best Science Stories of 2020.
Bonus Read: Ed Yong: Must-Read Stories of the Pandemic
Ed Yong’s Atlantic story, How the Pandemic Will End, was the most-read story of 2020. Here, he shares 21 of the exceptional pieces that he most admired on the pandemic beat this year.Save