Whenever Slate chronicles its most-read stories of the year, the list is revealing. Some years, readers are interested in beer, babes, and puppy dogs. In 2008, they were hungry for news of the election and the economy. In 2009, readers wanted a bit of both. Stories about the Obamas—what Barack was reading, how the family moved into the White House, what the president’s Secret Service agents look like—were very popular. And readers flocked to slide shows about the recession, including one on Detroit and one that gathered Slate readers’ photos of the economic crisis. But more unorthodox stories also found traction. June Thomas’ series on the crisis in American dentistry was widely read, as was a slide show on strange maps, our Mad Men TV Club and—our most-read story of the year—a taste test of chain coffee. Below, you’ll find a list of the 10 articles and five slide shows that attracted the most readers this year.
10 Most Popular Articles
1. Coffee Talk
Which chain brews the best cup? Starbucks, McDonald’s, or Dunkin’?
By Nathan Heller
2. Mad Men, Season 3
Slate’s TV Club on the AMC show.
By Patrick Radden Keefe, John Swansburg and Julia Turner
3. What, Exactly, Are “Natural Causes”?
And can they really explain Brittany Murphy’s death from cardiac arrest at the age of 32?
By Brian Palmer
4. The American Way of Dentistry
A look at the coming crisis.
By June Thomas
5. Fix Your Terrible Insecure Passwords in Five Minutes
A foolproof technique to secure your computer, e-mail, and bank account.
By Farhad Manjoo
6. Masseuse Rubbed Me the Wrong Way
Prudie counsels a woman who ordered a rubdown but got a shakedown—and other advice seekers.
7. Barack’s Book Bag
What Obama’s summer reading list says about him.
By John Dickerson
8. Reunited, and It Feels So Bad
My long-lost daughter is a terror, and I want nothing to do with her.
9. First Movers
How exactly will Obama get all his stuff into the White House?
By Christopher Beam
10. Nice To Meet You, Please Don’t Touch Me
Dear Prudence counsels a career woman whose religion forbids her from shaking hands with men—and other advice seekers.
Five Most Popular Slide Shows
1. A Brief History of the Bikini
How the tiny swimsuit conquered America.
By Julia Turner
2. Guarding Obama
Photos of the president-elect’s Secret Service detail.
By Scout Tufankjian
3. Strange Maps
California as an island, utopia in the shape of a skull, and other cartographic curiosities.
By Frank Jacobs
4. Incredible Hulks
Exploring Detroit’s beautiful ruins.
By Witold Rybczynski
5. Great Shots of Tough Times
Slate readers share their photographs of the economic crisis.