When we make our annual list of Slate’s most popular stories, a strange mix usually emerges. In 2005, our most popular stories were about dogs, beer, and celebrities. In 2014, they included the Adele Dazeem name generator—thanks, John Travolta—and an essay by Rob Lowe. Last year, the list ranged from a powerful interactive that illustrated 315 years of the slave trade to a you-have-to-read-it-to-believe-it account of a deadly trend in China.
This year, we worried that election coverage would overwhelm the list and ruin one of our favorite parts of this year-end exercise: giving readers another chance to discover some of our best work. We’re proud of our election coverage, and much of it remains as pressing today as it did when we first published it. But we also have a sneaking suspicion that you all might not accept our invitation to revisit 10 stories about the 2016 campaign.
So this year, we’re using a different metric to choose our most popular stories, one that preserves the balance of topics and writers you’re used to: average engaged time. These are the stories that visitors, on average, spent the most time on—essentially, the stories you couldn’t stop reading once you started.
That’s not to say this method is perfect. It favors slightly longer work over short, sharp writing. But this list offers a great eclectic group of pieces from all across the magazine—there’s business, sports, arts, yoga, and yes, politics. We’re excited you’ll have the chance to catch up on some of the best writing you may have missed during a chaotic year.
10. “Never Goldwater: How the Fight to Defeat the Arizona Senator Gave Birth to the Modern GOP,” by John Dickerson, May 12
9. “A Week on the Trail With the ‘Disgusting Reporters’ Covering Donald Trump,” by Seth Stevenson, March 20
8. “I Am the Student Loan Crisis at Its Ugliest: I Graduated and Found Out I’m $200,000 in Debt,” by Samual Garner, Jan. 26
7. “A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Says a Chic NYC Yoga Studio Is a Cult. Is It?” by Michelle Goldberg, April 5
6. “An Extremely Detailed Guide to What the Heck Might Happen at a GOP Contested Convention,” by Josh Voorhees, March 10
5. “I Made Less Than $13 an Hour to Serve $13 Bud Lights at the Super Bowl,” by Gabriel Thompson, Feb. 9
4. “Is a Surrogate a Mother?” by Michelle Goldberg, Feb. 15
3. “How Angels in America Became the Defining Work of American Art of the Past 25 Years,” by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois, June 28
2. “How Daryl Morey Used Behavioral Economics to Revolutionize the Art of NBA Draft Picks,” by Michael Lewis, Dec. 6
1. “The Untold Story of the Eradication of the Original Ku Klux Klan,” by Matthew Pearl, March 4