Top 12 Longreads of 2011

Ed_Yong_Not_Exactly_Rocket_Ed Yong over at Not Exactly Rocket Science:

The wonderful site Longreads is collating people’s picks of the best long features of the year. Some say that the internet is triggering a renaissance for long-form writing and I very much agree. Over the past 12 days, I’ve been tweeting my picks and the full list should be up soon. Here it is:

The world of science offers great opportunities for journalists to flex their writing muscles by fusing rich storytelling and reporting with deft explanatory skill. After all, what could make for better stories than intelligent people trying to understand how the world works?

Here are my top dozen stories from the year, originally tweeted as daily treats in the run-up to Christmas. Yes, I know everyone else has picked five, but we bloggers hate word restrictions – I’ll pick my Top 67 of 2011 and you’ll like it. Each of these features left a firm impression so, taking my lead from Jodi Ettenberg, each choice comes with a note about where I was when I read it.

Here they are, in no particular order:

The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus by Adam Rogers (Wired; read at my desk during an uneventful work day)

This is a superb whodunit featuring James Scott, the Sherlock Holmes of fungus – an old-school scientist in the modern world, trying to solve the mystery of the “angel’s share”. It’s packaged with confident wit and vivid, sensory prose (check out that lede), and Rogers finds space to take in a brief history of distillation and a look at the dying art of mycology. The best piece about fungus you’ll likely ever read.