A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions – The New Yorker Creative embellishment of resumes is common to the point of normalcy. But imagine if you didn’t just tell a few white lies to get a job, but lived an entirely fabricated life in pursuit of professional recognition? Such is the tale of Dan Mallory, bestselling author of 2017’s The Woman in the Window, whose calculated and outrageous lies included having brain cancer and holding a doctorate from Oxford. This thorough investigation of his audacious, inconsistent bullshit is the most satisfying, detailed and delicious example of schadenfreude I’ve yet come across.
Nick Connellan, publications director

My Family’s SlaveThe Atlantic
This piece by Pulitzer Prize-winner Alex Tizon originally appeared in the Atlantic in 2017, but appeared in my Facebook feed in September this year. This is the story’s second paragraph: “Her name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido. We called her Lola. She was 4 foot 11, with mocha-brown skin and almond eyes that I can still see looking into mine—my first memory. She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift, and when my family moved to the United States, we brought her with us. No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived. Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasn’t kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been.” From there, it only gets more engrossing.
– Katya Wachtel, editorial director

The Most Gullible Man in CambridgeThe Cut
This story has everything you could possibly want in a juicy longread. A Harvard law professor – who literally teaches judgement – who gets conned? Check. Gender politics? Check. Privileged east-coast American men targeted and undermined by sociopaths? Check. Sex, manipulation, marriage dynamics and contested paternity? Check, check, check, check. I don’t want to give too much away, but this story has more twists and turns than a game of snakes and ladders, and it is very much worth every minute of your time. You’ll need to talk to someone about it as soon as you’re done, so share the link with a friend. And don’t talk to strangers who approach you on the street, ever, because they might just be trying to steal your sperm or your house.
– Elissa Goldstein, subeditor

The Desertification of Australian Culturethe Monthly
In October, cultural critic Alison Croggon contextualised Australia’s diminishing investment in the arts among larger global crises of environment, economics and politics. She examined the politicisation of arts funding – despite Australia’s culture industry being worth some $111 billion annually – and highlighted how ongoing ideological attacks will have significant costs with no dollar value. It’s particularly pertinent to revisit after the Morrison government’s snap decision to fold the arts portfolio into the transport and frustration department, which would seem utterly daft if it weren’t the next dangerous strike in a raging culture war.
– Jo Robin, Melbourne assistant editor

The Healthyish Guide to Your 30sHealthyish
Healthyish is always good, but this series of articles was particularly good. (Why yes, I did turn 30 this year.) This series included tongue-in-cheek longreads such as “So Your Friends Had a Kid. Here's How to Hang Out With Them Even If They Eat Dinner at 5pm” and ‘Two Writers on the Joys of Being Single, But Also Sometimes Dating, in Your 30s” and a bunch of others that were funny and helpful in addressing some very specific stresses of mine, and never tipped into tragic “how do I adult?” basic territory.
– Sinead Stubbins, deputy branded content editor

Notre-Dame Came Far Closer to Collapsing Than People Knew. This is How it was SavedNew York Times
In April 2019, one of the world’s most iconic buildings went up in flames. Everybody knows Notre-Dame cathedral – whether that’s through faith, a trip to Paris or a love of surprisingly dark ’90s Disney movies. So, when the cathedral caught fire it was shocking and sad. Three months after, the New York Times published this in-depth investigation of the oversight that led to the fire and the heroism that would eventually rescue the building from the brink. It’s all delivered in an interactive way, which combines video, written narrative and graphics to tell a story that’s more gripping and nail-biting than anything else I’ve seen this year – in any media format.
– Callum McDermott, directory editor

The Men Who Still Love Fight ClubThe New Yorker
This year marks 20 years since the release of Fight Club, a richly quotable parable of lost men, social malaise and a giant middle finger to the trap of consumerism. This New Yorker article forensically picks through the zeitgeist of those two decades – PUAs, incels, online dating et al ­– and examines recent cultural conversations around toxic masculinity using the film as the launching point. As both a feminist and someone who found this film so rabble-rousing 20 years ago, this was a great context to revisit the film and see it in a whole new – alarming – way.
– Jenni Kauppi, subeditor

How Millennials Became the Burnout GenerationBuzzfeed
When this piece was published last summer, I saw a lot of Gen X people on Twitter scoffing and getting annoyed that Millennials were claiming the monopoly on stress. I don’t think that Anne Helen Peterson makes that claim in this piece. I do think she makes an interesting case about how social and economic factors have collided to create a generation who feel like they need to be productive every second of the day, otherwise they’ll die. Not me, though! I’m fine.
– Sinead Stubbins, deputy branded content editor

The Leaders Of Australia's "Time's Up" Movement Made Big Promises They Couldn't KeepBuzzfeed News
In this in-depth investigation Buzzfeed’s Hannah Ryan and Gina Rushton explore the promise and perils of Now Australia. The organisation became the face of Australia’s #MeToo movement but failed to deliver meaningful change and ongoing support for Australians who had been sexually assaulted or harassed. The article outlines the rise of Now, its shortcomings, and the ways popular awareness-raising movements can actually harm the people they are supposed to help, by squandering resources for specialist services and giving the illusion of action.
– Jo Robin, Melbourne assistant editor

The Eight Million Reasons to Love New YorkNew York Magazine
Just as I sat down to write about Tavi Gevinson’s Who Would I Be Without Instagram? (published by New York Magazine in September) for this wrap, the same publication’s newsletter appeared in my inbox. It took me less than two seconds to click the link for The 8 Million Reasons to Love New York, and another two seconds for it to become my new favourite (sort of) longform article of the year. Daniel Featherstone’s gallery of street photographs is accompanied by a collection of colourful essays from six writers; profiles of New Yorkers who are so intrinsically New York that they mightn’t make sense anywhere else. I loved them, and I loved it.
– Emily Taliangis, audience editor

Lovers in Auschwitz, Reunited 72 Years Later. He Had One Question.New York Times
It’s hard to believe that romance could flourish in Auschwitz, but it did for David Wisnia and Helen “Zippi” Spitzer in a barracks between two of the crematories, thanks to Zippi’s strategic thinking and survival nous. This is an unforgettable tale of love, courage and survival that spans decades and continents (and briefly touches down in Sydney). Sometimes history feels very much consigned to the past. Other times, a simple detail – like this one: the heroine devoted herself to supporting pregnant Jewish refugees in post-war Germany, in the very camp where my grandmother was pregnant with my father – will lurch out of the narrative to thwack you in the heart in the best possible way and remind you that it’s very much present, maybe even in you, the reader.
– Elissa Goldstein, subeditor

The Legacy of Keanu ReevesGQ
This article from April dropped just as the Keanu Reeves internet lust was reaching a fever pitch. It was around the time he told Ellen he had a crush on Sandra Bullock while filming Speed. He discussed his own mortality with Stephen Colbert. John Wick 3 (a great movie) came out. That cameo in Always Be My Maybe happened. This interview by Alex Pappademas and this shoot by Daniel Jackson sum up a very specific cultural moment that I’m glad we had in 2019.
– Sinead Stubbins, deputy branded content editor

Voices of Domestic Violencethe Saturday Paper
Joy Goodsell worked with survivors of domestic violence for more than two decades. She listened to countless women recount fraught relationships, from the initial rush of romance through violent conflict and eventual escape. In this article, which was a finalist for the Horne Prize, Goodsell pieces together snippets of survivors’ stories, using the words their partners used against them, to create a harrowing, singular portrait of abuse. It’s remarkable in the way it turns an isolating, terrifying experience into something shared, and highlights just how prevalent and universal tools of intimate control are. I read it at the start of the year and still think about it regularly.
– Jo Robin, Melbourne assistant editor

This Map Lets You Plug in Your Address to See How It’s Changed Over the Past 750 Million YearsSmithsonian Mag
Okay, so this isn’t a long read, but you could get lost in here for a long time. It’s a long look. This interactive map, called Ancient Earth, was created by a guy called Ian Webster, who Smithsonian describes as “curator of the world’s largest digital dinosaur database”. You can plug in any location to see how it looked 750 million years ago (and it runs up until the present). So for example, 750 million years ago, where Melbourne is located now, there’s no land, just ocean. Australia as we know it didn’t exist yet as a landmass. Fast forward to 200 million years ago and there’s land where Australia is but it’s not a discrete continent – it’s part of an enormous mass that will eventually break into Africa, Australia, South America, India and Antarctica. And so on. It’s fascinating.
– Katya Wachtel, editorial director