15
Dec
11

Our favorite online reads of 2011

Us here at Extended Play HQ have diligently spent the year reading, marking down our favorite online reading, in anticipation of this, our second annual Best Online Reads post. The rules to qualify were simple: if we read it and liked it, we saved it to a folder called ‘best online writing’. Then, at year’s end, we dug through all the posts and chose our favorites of our favorites. There wasn’t any rules about length or topics or form, although we’ll be the first to admit we skimped on the fiction this year.

Anyway, here’s the list, complete with explanations why we liked the post. Take that longreads!

Paul Haggis versus the Church of Scientology (Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, Feb. 14, 2011)

A gutsy, no-hold-barred take on Scientology; no small feat, considering the church’s clout. The New Yorker took some flak for this story, including a takedown by Freedom magazine, but as best we know, has stood by the story. And no wonder: it’s a long, but highly readable story that draws the reader in. 

When Irish Eyes are Crying (Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair, March 2011)

Michael Lewis’ writing on the European financial crisis hasn’t just been great reading, but has seemed rather forward-thiniking: he was writing about Greece and Germany in the national media before anybody else. Here he writes about Ireland, where the meltdown has been just as catastrophic, although not as in the public eye.

North Korea’s Digital Underground (Robert S. Boynton, The Atlantic, April 2011)

A look not only inside the secretive country, but inside it’s even more secretive underground, which uses all sorts of new media technology – like self-erasing memory sticks containing Samizdat-style ebooks – to spread knowledge through the communist state. My pick for underrated read of the year.

Welcome to the Far Eastern Conference (Wells Tower, GQ, May 2011)

Speaking of the far east, here’s a great profile on Chinese basketball, former NBA superstar Stephon Marbury and how the two meshed together so well.

Dead Wrestler of the Week: Randy Savage (‘The Masked Man’, Deadspin, May 23, 2011)

The Masked Man’s columns for Deadspin were among the best stuff the site ever had and this obituary on the recently-deceased Macho Man is arguably the series’ best. 

A Rough Guide to Disney World (John Jeremiah Sullivan, The New York Times Magazine, June 8. 2011)

Sullivan’s account of taking his kids to Disney World (and finding a spot to smoke up) is at turns, hilarious, distressing and enlightening, especially in it’s recounting the history of how the theme park came to be. A fabulous piece by one of the best essayists out there.

A Brevard woman disappears, but never leaves home (Michael Kruse, St. Petersburg Times, July 24, 2011)

A haunting story about somebody overwhelmed by their mental issues who gradually withdraws from society until she withdraws from it all. 

Getting Bin Laden (Nicolas Schmidle, The New Yorker, August 8, 2011)

A long, detailed look at what happened the night Bin Laden died, not only from Seal Team Six, but inside the White House.

Assault on the minibar (Dubravka Ugresic, The Paris Review Daily, October 17, 2011)

A short, funny history of the bane of every hotel room: the minibar

The Last Act of the Notorious Howie Spira (Luke O’Brien, Deadspin, October 26, 2011)

Spira, the man who helped Steinbrenner get dirt on Dave Winfield, worked for the mob, turned informant to the FBI and – once you’ve read the story – is somehow still alive, trying to complete his final act: a movie about his life.

Penn State’s insufficient actions amid child sex alligations stunning (Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports, November 5, 2011)

One of the first, and still the best, takes in the immediate aftermath of the initial grand jury findings on Jerry Sandusky, without a doubt the biggest sports story of the year. 

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