For some, the end of the year means that pile of unread magazines looming larger than ever. But as schedules lighten and plane trips loom, there's no better time to do some reading. Knowing that you'll finally have some time to relax, and as we continue The Atlantic Wire's Year in Review, we've compiled some of our favorite pieces of long-form non-fiction journalism from 2012. Because it's been a good year for long reads. From old standards to new favorites and the continued rise of Longform.org, Byliner, and the Atavist, there's been no shortage of fresh, breathtaking material. Though it's by no means a comprehensive list, what follows, in chronological order of publication date, are much lauded pieces you may have missed (and you don't want to miss Pamela Colloff's stunning, two-part tale of exoneration in Texas Monthly) and some others we think slipped under the radar. They are, simply, great stories: alternately gripping, beautiful, thrilling, or just fun. So print them out, load them onto Instapaper or Pocket or whatever, and start reading.
"The Story of a Suicide" by Ian Parker in The New Yorker
The suicide of Tyler Clementi was already widely covered by the time Parker's story was published, but Parker's detailed take became the definitive account of two college roommates and a sour relationship with dire consequences.
"Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth's Hazing Abuses" by Janet Reitman in Rolling Stone
Reitman's gross-out details about Dartmouth's fraternity scene were well-publicized, but her piece turned a keen eye on the topic of hazing. So of course it was controversial, but who would expect any less when you're writing about the Ivy League behaving badly?
"Hunter Moore Makes a Living Screwing You" by Camille Dodero in the Village Voice Dodero's piece is alternately entertaining and horrifying as she illuminates the world of "revenge porn" auteur Hunter Moore.
"Battleground America" by Jill Lepore in The New Yorker
Never has Lepore's investigation into American gun culture been more pertinent.
"Finding Oscar: Massacre, Memory and Justice in Guatemala" by Sebastian Rotella and Ana Arana in ProPublica, co-reported with This American Life and Fundación MEPI
A story both about Guatemalan history and how a man learned the truth of his identity from an investigation into a massacre years earlier.
"'I Just Want to Feel Everything': Hiding Out With Fiona Apple, Musical Hermit" by Dan P. Lee in New York
Fiona Apple has historically been a great subject for profiles, but she lets Lee into her world in a special way that made for riveting reading.
"Neuroscience: The Mind Reader" by David Cyranoski in Nature
Ever wondered what it's like to communicate with someone in a vegetative state? Read on.
"The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama" by Tom Junod in Esquire
Junod's story — a direct address to the president — proved as revealing on the morality of drone strikes as it was stylistically ambitious.
"'Is he coming? Is he? Oh God, I think he is.' by Sean Flynn in GQ
Flynn's account of the 2011 massacre in the Norwegian youth camp is terrifying on its own, but becomes haunting in light of the Newtown tragedy.
"99 Ways to Be Naughty in Kazakhstan" by Edith Zimmerman in the New York Times Magazine
Just before Helen Gurley Brown died Zimmerman took us into the fascinating and morally complicated world of Cosmo outside the United States.
"How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking" by Mat Honan in Wired
One writers's digital nightmare becomes a cautionary tale as he details how his entire world got hacked.
"What's a Monkey to do in Tampa?" by Jon Mooallem in The New York Times Magazine Florida is known for being the source of bizarre stories, and this chronicle of a monkey loose in Tampa is high on quirk.
"My Life With Lance Armstrong" by Mike Anderson in Outside
A devastating and personal takedown of a once lauded man.
"The Throwaways" by Sarah Stillman in The New Yorker
Stillman's masterful exploration of young people, convicted of relatively minor offenses, then used as pawns by law enforcement to bring down violent criminals involved in major drug offenses.
"The Cranky Wisdom of Peter Kaplan" by Nathan Heller in The New Republic
Heller brings to life a modern media hero, the former editor of the New York Observer.
"Grizzly Bear Members Are Indie-Rock Royalty, But What Does That Buy Them in 2012?" by Nitsuh Abebe in New York
Contributing to what was clearly a good year for New York in the realm of music journalism, Abebe's profile of Grizzly Bear straddles genres as he writes what is essentially a business story wrapped in a profile that's ultimately a critical analysis on the state of indie music.
"What Katie Didn’t Know" by Maureen Orth in Vanity Fair
Yes, at times Orth's look at Scientology's Tom Cruise-centered machinations reminded us of tabloid candy, but for all the fun of it, it also took us inside a notoriously secret and at times frightening organization.
"The Great New England Vampire Panic" by Abigail Tucker in Smithsonian Magazine
Forget the vampires of pop culture, this story of the real-life vampire historians attempting to explain a vampire panic in 19th Century New England beats Twilight any day.
"The Truck Stop Killer" by Vanessa Veselka in GQ
Part personal essay, part reporting project, Veselka wrote about a world she knew all too well: that of young teenage hitchhikers and the truckers that picked them up, one of who was a brutal murderer.
"The Hollywood Reporter, After 65 Years, Addresses Role in Blacklist" by Gary Baum and Daniel Miller in The Hollywood Reporter
This piece is what happens when a trade publication finally acknowledges the damage it wrought on its trade over 60 years earlier.
"Persistent genital arousal disorder brings woman agony, not ecstasy" by Leonora LaPeter Anton at the Tampa Bay Times
A fascinating story turned tragic when reading the appended editor's note: the subject, who suffered from a feeling of constant arousal, was found dead of suicide the day after the story appeared online.
And some internal favorites from The Atlantic:
"Jersey Boys" by Jeffrey Goldberg
Goldberg wrote one of the most entertaining — and weirdly timely — pieces of the year when he traveled to a Springsteen concert with one of the Boss's biggest fans: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
"Fear of a Black President" by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates's piece on Obama and his relationship to race is a clear-headed entry into an often not-clear-headed discussion.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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