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July 21, 2014

The Beauty of Longreads

This semester, Mizzou’s student-led paper The Maneater released its first longreads story. Titled “His Name Is Shane,” it profiled the journey of a trans man, Shane, through his MU life and his personal life through transition. I didn’t take the time to read it, mostly because one of my instructors for a journalism class had already profiled Shane for Mizzou’s own website, and we had read his profile piece instead.

The notable thing wasn’t that a student publication was taking on a potentially-controversial story like that (it wasn’t all that controversial on our liberal campus, but it was still brave of Shane to sit down and discuss everything, knowing there may be some backlash). It was the fact that The Maneater had released a longread. At least, to the journalism kids it was notable.

Longreads are stories, pieces of reporting, or written articles that are very very long. Much longer than a regular article in the newspaper. What they lack in readability and easiness they often make up for in rich context, details, and storytelling. Needless to say, longreads aren’t exactly articles you can skim through. There’s no nut graf here.

I’m always personally daunted by the prospect of a longread. There are longreads on every topic under the sun; it’s not hard to find one you’ll enjoy. My favorite longreads website is aptly titled: I’m pretty sure they coined the term, since “long-form” was used before I ever heard “longreads.”

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Click the photo to head to their website!

Taking the time to sit down and read one long-form story a day is hard enough, I think, in our busy lives. But I never regret it when I do. Right now, I’m reading these three pieces:

“Lessons from America’s War for the Greater Middle East.” by Andrew Bacevich. Bacevich, according to the article’s bio, is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. I think his discussion of America’s continuing conflict, armed mostly, as he addresses it, in the Middle East is interesting particularly because he makes a conscious choice to refer to it as a war, and then dissects the reasons it is a war, and why it’s different from any other war we’ve ever fought. Very thought-provoking.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” by E.J. Levy, an excerpt from “How to Cook an Elk,” her upcoming memoir. I’m actually very excited to read that after reading this chapter. It details her mother’s not-quite-so-loveless-but-not-great-either marriage, her obsession with Julia Child and French cuisine, as well as her own discovery of her sexuality, her battle with bulimia, and her adulthood.

“The Forgotten Internment” by Eva Holland. This longread tells the story of the indigenous Aleut people of the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska’s southwestern coast. During WWII, when Japanese invasion threatened their livelihood (and actually took a few of their western islands and many lives), the American government moved them to temporary internment camps in the Alaskan panhandle. Those three years of being both a potential “enemy” people and official wards of the state via the Bureau of Indian Affairs, have forever changed the Aleut people as much as Russian colonization did in the first place. If you’re as interested in native peoples and indigenous traditions as I am, you’ll love this one.

Let me know if you’re loving any particular longreads at the moment!

(This post has not been sponsored by Longreads in any way. I’m just a huge fan.)


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