My favorite reads from 2021
The world is falling to pieces, but sometimes we still have fun
Hi friends. Today is December 17, 2021.
This is your last Links of the year, an occasion that calls for some contemplation. The year began with an armed uprising; it ended with a tornado. And in between, we got stonks, Squid Game, hot beekeepers, Omicron and ≈1500 Facebook scandals.
You can’t make much sense out of that, I don’t think. There’s no line of best fit for this pattern. Every morning this week, I’ve drafted versions of this year-in-review without ever reaching any actual conclusions. The world is falling to pieces, okay? But also, sometimes, we still have fun! Upward and onward, to better and worse things. It’s been a real ride, 2021. 🥂
As I did last year, I’m closing this out with a round-up of my favorite reads from the year that was. The sole criteria for inclusion is whether I experienced an “oh shit!” recognition when I reread their headlines in old newsletters. We’ve got TikTokers, mind readers, gig economics — in other words, a real grab bag. And that feels pretty fitting, given the year we’ve had.
Without further ado, in no particular order
“The Anxiety of Influencers,” by Barrett Swanson in Harper’s
“The Jessica Simulation,” by Jason Fagone in the San Francisco Chronicle
“How a Board Game About Birds Became a Surprise Blockbuster,” by Dan Kois in Slate
“The Man Who Turned Credit-Card Points Into an Empire,” by Jamie Lauren Keiles in the New York Times Magazine
“Up All Night With a Twitch Millionaire,” by Drew Harwell in The Washington Post
“The Science of Mind Reading,” by James Somers in The New Yorker
“File Not Found,” by Monica Chin in The Verge
“How Shein Beat Amazon at Its Own Game and Reinvented Fast Fashion,” by Louise Matsakis, Meaghan Tobin and Wency Chen in Rest of World
“He Thought He Could Outfox the Gig Economy. He Was Wrong,” by Lauren Smiley in Wired
“Revolt of the Delivery Workers,” by Josh Dzieza in Curbed
“The Cultural Revisionism Industry,” by R.E. Hawley in Gawker
“Music Copyright in the Age of Forgetting,” by Nate Rogers in The Ringer
“Hey, Hun!” by Bridget Read in The Cut
“Slackers of the World, Unite!” by Ellen Cushing in The Atlantic
“The Very Cute, Totally Disturbing Tale of the American ‘It’ Dog,” by Tove. K Danovich in Vox
Thanks, as always, for reading and sharing and helping this little project grow up. Links will be back in your inboxes January 7! Happy holidays.