What to read from 2015.

You’re Doing It Wrong if You Missed These Stories in 2015

You’re Doing It Wrong if You Missed These Stories in 2015

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Dec. 31 2015 11:38 AM

Our Favorite Reads of 2015

Slate writers and editors pick their favorite stories from around the Web.


Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images, Thinkstock.

Reading List is a curated list of great pieces from around the Web from Slate editors and writers, just for Slate Plus members. For this week’s newsletter, we asked the office to nominate their favorite non-Slate stories from 2015:

An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica and the Marshall Project
An extraordinary collaboration by two reporters who discovered that they were both chasing the same devastating story about a serial rapist and police misconceptions about rape and rape survivors that can serve to terminate an investigation—and all but destroy a victim. The result is more than 11,000 words of edge-of-your-seat narrative that follow crime-scene investigators and their dogged efforts to solve a cold case. —Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent

Science Isn’t Broken,” Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight
Science is the best tool we have, but it’s really hard to use correctly. After some major and minor scandals this year, Aschwanden (a friend) shows how easy it is to fool yourself with your own statistics. —Laura Helmuth, science and health editor

I Know How to Curse,” Tom Ewing, Freaky Trigger
Ewing is one of my favorite critics working today, and his lucid investigation of the anti-Semitism in the Tintin book The Shooting Star is a model of how to approach “problematic” art. Ewing never lets his repulsion in the face of prejudice interfere with his ability to read, or vice-versa. —Gabriel Roth, senior editor and editorial director of Slate Plus

 “What Would Barthes Think of His Hermès Scarf?”, Christy Wampole, the New Yorker
In honor of the centenary of the French semiotician Roland Barthes’ birth, Hermès released a comically expensive scarf. Contemplating this object, which clarifies the “link between ‘text’ and ‘textile,’ ” Wampole dwells on the legacy of a thinker who “taught us to see the whole world as a helix of readable signs.” More than any other scholar of his time, Barthes was a deeply personal critic, and in echoing that mode, Wampole’s essay shows how much we stand to gain from his style. —Jacob Brogan, technology and culture writer

Larry King Is Preparing for the Final Cancellation,” Mark Leibovich, the New York Times Magazine
King is just unapologetically himself—an inexplicable combination of needy and not giving a fuck. Leibovich likes him, you can tell. —Ava Lubell, assistant counsel and manager of business development

Talking Trash With Mike Dukakis,” Garrett Quinn, Boston Magazine
Mike Dukakis is a pro when it comes to talking trash, but almost definitely not the kind of trash you’re thinking of. The 1988 presidential hopeful has traded ballot boxes for recycling bins and now spends his time traveling across Boston, picking up the things others have discarded—and it’s given him a lot of ideas about the state of American cities. —Chelsea Hassler, deputy audience engagement editor

Norman Lloyd on Upstaging Orson Welles and Playing Tennis With Chaplin,” Will Harris, A.V. Club
Harris’ November interview with centenarian actor Norman Lloyd, who has worked with everyone from Orson Welles to Amy Schumer, was a delightful look back at Hollywood history, as told by a man who has lived through most of it. —Justin Peters, correspondent

Before and After” column, Michelle Villett, Beauty Editor
I follow celebrity tabloid narratives like they’re sports, and beauty blogger Michelle Villett is the game’s greatest referee. Whenever a star steps out with a fresh facial feature (Kylie Jenner’s lips, Iggy Azalea’s chin), Villett is there to rewind the tape and meticulously document every broken bone and injected acid. The project is crass, mesmerizing, and kind of important: As Hollywood sells young women on the ideal of soft, symmetrical sex appeal, Villett is on the sidelines to remind us that behind every perfect headshot is a history of secret violence. —Amanda Hess, staff writer

Where the Bodies Are Buried,” Patrick Radden Keefe, the New Yorker
Keefe’s sprawling international crime tales have long been reliably superb, and this piece on Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ history with the IRA, and his possible involvement in the murder of Jean McConville, is no exception. It’s a tale that’s part murder mystery, part geopolitical thriller, part history lesson. While Keefe’s story is unflinchingly fair-minded, it’s tough to come away from it without a near certainty that Adams has gotten away with violent crimes and an unnerving suspicion that Northern Island’s troubles are no longer problems of the past. —Seth Maxon, home page editor