Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes. (Average 20-30 min for each story)

Longform nonfiction is about the art of stories. Not the stories we might find in typical news coverage, but stories that can connect us intimately to a certain person, cause or issue. Suicide, gay adoption, hermits, and reparations are only a few of the topics covered by this thrilling collection of writing. 

These 24 articles are more than worth every moment of your time. As a staff we've read hundreds of nonfiction articles this year, and these are our top picks. The majority of the credit for finding these articles goes to Bill Carey (@wcarey22), a good friend, proud member of Rhino Nation, and a News Team Manager at Sports Illustrated. For three years now Bill has distributed a weekly list of nonfiction, and these are the best of his picks as well as a few extra articles. Thank you Bill! #nextChrisJones. 

Happy Reading!

Crime & Police
Gripping stories of murder, police abuse, and the toll of prisons.

The Murders at Lake Waco by Michael Hall
A triple homicide in 1982 "still haunts the many people who have tried to solve it." Was an innocent man executed?

The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass by Sabrina Rubin Erdely
Jesse is a high school student with autism who keeps to himself. Why did an undercover cop target him as a drug dealer?

Zimmerman Family Values by Amanda Robb
Meet the family of one of America's most infamous citizens.

The Witness by Pamela Colloff
"For more than a decade, it was Michelle Lyon's job to observe the final moments of death row inmates - but watching 278 executions did not come without a cost."

Serial Podcast - Season 1 by Sarah Koenig
We couldn't help but include this nonfiction sensation. Though not a traditional long-form article, Sarah writes (and then speaks her writing) with the best of other journalists on this page.

Sports
Not your normal sports stories. A coach stops a shooter, a star loses his girlfriend to suicide, and a sky-dive instructor makes an unbelievable sacrifice. Check out the throwback article for a profile that illuminates recent news about concussions in the NFL and NHL. 

Love, Loss and Survival by Chris Ballard
Pro basketball player Ryan Anderson's girlfriend committed 
suicide last year. Now, he tries to move forward.

Do you remember Chardon, Ohio? "In February 2012, an assistant coach faced down a killer in the midst of a school shooting" and saved many lives in the process.

A Fall to Earth by Chris Ballard
"This is the best thing SI has published this year, and maybe the best thing anyone has published." The story of a first-time skydiving experience gone horribly wrong.

A 3-part series from 2011. Derek Boogaard was an NHL player. He wasn't the most skilled, but he had a role - the enforcer, the tough guy who protected his teammates. Boogaard died at 28. After his death, it was determined he had degenerative brain disease. This series traces his life and career from youth hockey to death. It was a Pulitzer finalist.


Civil Rights
Reparations, gay rights, and being transgender at a Women's College. 

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates
"Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole."

"In Mississippi, there is only one clinic where a woman can go if she needs an abortion. The state is trying to close it down." Here is the story of the doctor who flies from out of state to work there.
"What does it mean to be a women's college in the 21st century?"

Max Lenox was born to a crack-addicted mother, given up for adoption and raised by two gay dads. This is the unlikely story of how Lenox became the captain of the basketball team at, of all places, Army.


Immigration
Eli Saslow is a master of the craft, and each of these articles is a window into the lives of those affected by the US's current immigration policy. 

Javier Flores had a steady job and a happy life with his wife and four kids. But he was an undocumented immigrant and his status eventually caught up with him, forcing him from his family and back to picking limes in the remote Mexican village where he grew up.

The Almost Americans by Eli Saslow
President Obama's executive order on immigration cuts through the heart of one family. The mother, undocumented, will benefit. The father, recently deported to Mexico, will have a harder time rejoining them. Now the family tries to decide: stay in America, separated, or move to Mexico to reunite. This story is paired with the previous story.

Nora Sandigo serves as the legal guardian of 812 U.S.-citizen children born to illegal immigrants who have been deported or face deportation. A crazy story, and a valuable look at an under-reported part of immigration debates. 

Education
Raising graduation rates, and breaking the mold in education.

Who Gets to Graduate? by Paul Tough
How one college is trying to deal with the fact that rich kids graduate and poor kids don't.

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses by Joshua Davis
"These students in Matamoros, Mexico, didn’t have reliable Internet access, steady electricity, or much hope—until a radical new teaching method unlocked their potential."


Captivating Single Stories
Too unique for categories. Stories of a hermit, beating the casino, and the potential perils of too much religious freedom.

The Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
The story of a hermit who - after thirty years of living in the woods of Central Maine - came out of the forest one day last year.

The Flaw by Kevin Poulson
"Finding a video poker bug made these guys rich - then Vegas made them pay."

Sinners in the Hand by Sonia Smith
"When is a church a cult?"


Bonus
And a few extra gems. Stories of our all-volunteer military, a next generation of "meat", and the sad story of the American dog.

The Great Draft Dodge by James Kitfield
"Karl Eikenberry and what Americans lost when they stopped fighting"

"In their secret R&D lab, the scientists at Beyond Meat concocted a plant-protein-based performance burger that delivers the juicy flavor and texture of the real thing with none of the dietary and environmental downsides"

America loves its dogs. So why do we kill 3,000 pit bulls per day?


And that's the list for 2014! Want more non-fiction? Check out the last two years of Best Articles:
2013 - Best Articles
2012 - Best Articles

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