Best Stories of 2018: Guest Picks

This year, I reached out to a handful of other writers to get their picks for the best stories of 2018, too. Some of them were kind enough to reply. Here are some of their selections.

Greg Lacour, senior editor of Charlotte Magazine

The New York Times look at how Climate Change was almost fixed, only we couldn’t get out of our own way. Why Greg loved it: “There’s no explanation necessary.” Agreed. It’s a must read because it’s arguably the most important story of the year.

Brandan Bures, my former colleague covering Florida State, now a terrific culture writer based in Austin.

The New Yorker’s story on the “rent a family” industry in Japan.

From Brandon: Few pieces of journalism better contend with the length humans now go to maintain false appearances. It hints at powerful questions lingering as we become ever more tech-dependent: Is the reality we present the world more meaningful than the one we know actually exists? And: Is it immoral to perpetuate false realities if it ultimately makes those around you happier? Yes, I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have asked themselves these questions, too.

And one of my favorites, too: The story of a weed heist gone wrong — very, very wrong — is a terrific bit of drama-filled momentum.

From Brandon: Here’s my hard and fast rule about true crime stories: If the opening paragraph includes a handcuffed, blinded, muted man, who’d just been castrated by criminals, bleeding out in a desert on a cold, dark night, I’m gonna read the whole piece. Like this piece, the best true crime presents an indelible image we simultaneously don’t understand and need to understand, then walks us back to explain how our characters reached this horrific place. Nate Berg nailed exactly that with this story. I wish it was 7,000 words longer.

Tommy Tomlinson, the brilliant columnist who’s worked at the Charlotte Observer and for ESPN the Magazine, and has a new book coming in 2019 that I cannot wait to read, and which you can preorder now!

From Tommy: The first story that came to mind was one that I fully expect to see as a movie in the next two years — the story about the guy who rigged the McDonald’s monopoly game.

To be honest, I don’t even remember if this story is well-written or not — what I remember is that I went HOLY SHIT every third paragraph. I was casting the movie before I was halfway through. He could have written 100,000 more words and I would’ve still wanted more.

FYI, the author did a Longform podcast where I learned something I had no idea about — there’s a guy who finds these kinds of stories and recruits writers to do them so they can be pitched to Hollywood.

Ryan McGee, the brilliant writer for ESPN, who also has a new book out with Dale Earnhardt Jr., that you may also want to consider purchasing.

From Ryan: This story from Wired, a ridiculously researched and well-written tale that took me into a world – actually multiple worlds – I knew zero about. An addict of the dark side of the gaming world whose life comes completely unraveled.

Grace Raynor, Clemson beat writer at the Post & Courier

From Grace: I actually just read a really well done, and really important, piece in GQ yesterday that I’m sure you saw about the Fresno Bee. I’m not sure that it’s the best thing I’ve read all year since there has been such amazing journalism all around and it’s too hard to narrow down, but it was definitely one of the most important in terms of the war on the media.

Also I LOVED this Charles Barkley piece, and basically all of Scott Fowler’s Rae Carruth stuff.

Last but not least, I thought this piece on the culture at Barstool resonated (especially as a woman in the industry).

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