Enjoy the best longform journalism from the last week.
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The very best long reads of the week
Chosen by Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) and Jacob Feldman (@JacobFeldman4)
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  • Help pick next week's reads by tweeting suggestions with the hashtag #SundayLR.



The goal of The Sunday Long Read newsletter is simple: To put the past week’s best journalism in your hands every Sunday morning—or, as a friend said, “to screw up my Sundays with far too much great stuff to read.” Obviously, compiling these lists is a wildly subjective exercise. How do I choose what’s “best?” If I finish a long-read article and immediately want to recommend it to a friend, you’ll find it linked here. These stories brought me pleasure, made me laugh and think and, most of all, told me something I didn’t know. No “hot takes” here.

After 24 years at The Miami Herald and The New York Times, I now write long-form sports stories for ESPN The Magazine and Naturally, these lists will tilt a bit toward sports (one week I chose 7 out of 10 pieces about sports). But you’ll find every kind of story here. And each week, I’ll choose my favorite read. The standard for that choice will be based as much on raw emotion as anything: If I desperately wished I had written it, you’ll find it at the top of the list.

Why another curated long read list? Well, I started this on a whim in early 2014, tweeting out my favorite stories each Sunday. I was motivated by finding a more orderly way to meet my compulsion to share. One of my favorite things about Twitter is it’s a generous platform that helps you discover great writing and great writers. If you follow the right crowd, Twitter becomes a kind of Pandora or Spotify for great journalism, and The Sunday long read began as a way to try to give back as much as I take. I was surprised and touched at how many people responded favorably. Before long, many of those same people urged me to start a newsletter like this one, to make it easier on them (hopefully) and (perhaps) on me.

This project is co-curated by Jacob Feldman, a Harvard senior whose enthusiasm and expertise were vital to getting this project launched.

During the week, on Twitter, Jacob and I hope you’ll use the #SundayLR hashtag for a piece you’d like us to consider for that Sunday’s list. You can also email your nominations, or questions and/or suggestions for how this list can improve to

Don Van Natta Jr.


Their Town
The California Sunday Magazine

Ashley Powers

Ashely Powers is a Miami writer whose work I’ve long admired. In “Their Town,” she writes about a sect of Mormon fundamentalists living on the border of Utah and Arizona. As the LA Times columnist Kari Howard called this piece, “It’s Stepford Wives (and kids) for the Mormon fundamentalist set.” A nearly perfect description of a riveting tale, which Powers deeply reports and delivers with grace.

No. 2In Conversation: Chris Rock
New York Magazine
Frank Rich

Chris Rock has decided to use the PR campaign for his new film to tell many hard truths about life in America. One of my favorite Q&As of the year.

No. 3: The Investor CEOs Fear Most 
Fortune Magazine

William Cohan

A fascinating profile of Starboard Value's Jeff Smith, who seized control of Darden Restaurants with more chutzpah than stock. His next targets: AOL and Yahoo!.

No. 4: The Allure of the Five-Minute Beer Mile 
Outside Magazine

Todd Balf

Elite runners chug beer while they run. Any questions?

No. 5: In Colombia, Two Worlds Collide 
New Humanist

Ewa Jasiewicz

Seventeen indigenous communities have "disappeared" in Colombia as a result of the expansion of the Cerrejon mine. A stunning true story.

No. 6: The Weight of Guilt 

Dave Hill

Sub-headline of the week goes to Grantland for "Death, Disgrace and a Handful of Knockers." I would read every word of that even if I hadn't known it was about cheating - yeah, that's right - in competitive bass fishing.

No. 7: Aliens in the Valley 

Seth Fiegerman

How Reddit became the Internet's front page.

No. 8: Blurred Forms 
The Appendix

Kristen D. Burton

A wobbly (and devilish) history of drunkenness. The illustrations are as much fun as the writing by Kristen D. Burton. 

No. 9: The Prison Reform Blues 
Buzzfeed News

Albert Samaha

Mississippi's ex-corrections commissioner will be known both for reform and corruption.

No. 10: The Black Man with the Bad Eye 
The Atlantic

Marc Bookman

A raped boy and a falsely convicted man are just two victims of a justice system "more committed to convictions than truth."


A Flame that Burned Too Brightly by Ron Fimrite (1991)

With Heisman Trophy ballots due tomorrow, read about one of college football's first heroes, his inspiring life, and his dramatic death.

During an evening of carousing and drinking at a Salisbury tavern, a soldier and his comrades were drinking to one another’s health. Then the soldier did the unthinkable: he drank to the health of the Devil. Boldly daring the Devil to appear, the soldier claimed that if the Devil did not, it was proof that neither the Devil, nor God, existed. The soldier’s drinking companions quickly fled the room out of fear, but they returned “after hearing a hideous noise, and smelling a stinking savour.” After returning to the room, the soldier had vanished, and all they found was a broken window, the iron bar within it bowed and covered in blood. The soldier was never heard from again."

Blurred Forms by Kristen D. Burton

"So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people."

-Chris Rock in In Conversation: Chris Rock by Frank Rich
The top Sunday long reads are selected with care by ESPN Senior Writer and NYT bestselling author Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) and Jacob Feldman (@JacobFeldman4), a senior at Harvard College.

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