Longreads Best of 2013: 22 Outstanding Book Chapters We Featured This Year

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This year we featured not only the best stories from the web, but also great chapters from new and classic books. Here’s a complete guide to every book chapter we featured this year, both for free and for Longreads Members:

On Muppets & Merchandise: How Jim Henson Turned His Art into a Business

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens | Make Art Make Money, Kindle Serials | September 2013 | 17 minutes (4,102 words)

In 2011, Longreads highlighted an essay called “Weekend at Kermie’s,” by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, published by The Awl. In 2013 Stevens came back with a new Muppet-inspired Kindle Serial called Make Art Make Money, part how-to, part Jim Henson history.

 

You Are One of Them

Elliott Holt | The Penguin Press | 2013 | 12 minutes (2,854 words)

The first chapter from Elliott Holt’s novel, You Are One of Them.

 

How to Spend Your Income Building a Car that Must Travel 100 Miles on a Single Gallon of Gas

Jason Fagone | Crown | November 2013 | 19 minutes (4,972 words)

The first chapter from Jason Fagone’s new book, Ingenious, about the X Prize Foundation’s $10 million competition to build a car that can travel 100 miles on a single gallon of gas.

 

How a Convicted Murderer Prepares for a Job Interview

Sabine Heinlein | University of California Press | July 2013 | 24 minutes (6,132 words)

A full chapter from Among Murderers: Life After PrisonWriter Sabine Heinlein spent more than two years at the Castle, a prominent halfway house in Harlem, where she met convicts who were preparing for the outside world.

 

The Woman Who Counted Fish: Conservation, Domestication and the Future of the Animal Kingdom

Jon Mooallem | Wild Ones, Penguin Press | May 2013 | 11 minutes (2,605 words)

The opening chapter of Jon Mooallem’s book Wild Ones.

 

Malrotation

Drew Magary | Gotham Books | June 2013 | 9 minutes (2,332 words)

Chapter one from Drew Magary’s memoir on fatherhood, Someone Could Get Hurt.

 

Transport: On Leaving New York for Rehab in Minnesota

Emily Carter Roiphe | Seal Press | 2013 | 10 minutes (2,409 words)

An excerpt from Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, a new collection of essays edited by Sari Botton.

 

‘He’s Our Baby’: What Happens When a Child Is Placed in Foster Care

Cris Beam | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | August 2013 | 23 minutes (5,787 words)

The opening chapter of To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care, by Cris Beam.

 

‘Quebrado’: The Life and Death of a Young Activist

Jeff Sharlet | Sweet Heaven When I Die, W. W. Norton & Company | Aug 2011 | 37 minutes (9,133 words)

The story was first published in Rolling Stone in 2008 and is featured in Sharlet’s book Sweet Heaven When I Die.

 

What Life Was Like for an Executioner’s Family in the 16th Century

Joel F. Harrington | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | March 2013 | 15 minutes (3,723 words)

An excerpt from The Faithful Executioner, by Harrington, Professor of History at Vanderbilt University.

 

‘Like Being in Prison with a Salary’: The Secret World of the Shipping Industry

Rose George | Metropolitan Books | August 2013 | 17 minutes (4,213 words)

The opening chapter of George’s book, Ninety Percent of Everything.

 

The Making of McKinsey: A Brief History of Management Consulting in America

Duff McDonald | The Firm, Simon & Schuster | 2013 | 12 minutes (3,000 words)

An excerpt from Duff McDonald’s book, The Firm, on the history of McKinsey.

 

White Oleander

Janet Fitch | Back Bay Books | 1999 | 18 minutes (4,708 words)

The full first chapter from Fitch’s 1999 novel.

 

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We also featured the below chapters for Longreads Members only. If you’d like more stories like these in 2014, join us

For the Public Good

Belle Boggs | The New New South | August 2013 | 62 minutes (15,377 words)

Boggs’s Kindle Single for the new publication, The New New South, which looked at forced sterilizations that occurred in the United States and the story of victims in North Carolina.

 

The Skies Belong to Us

Brendan I. Koerner | Crown | June 2013 | 24 minutes (6,231 words)

A chapter from Brendan I. Koerner’s book about Roger Holder and Cathy Kerkow, who in 1972 hijacked Western Airlines Flight 701 headed from Los Angeles to Seattle.

 

After Visiting Friends

Michael Hainey | Scribner | March 2013 | 10 minutes (2,542 words)

A chapter from the best-selling memoir by GQ deputy editor Michael Hainey, about his father’s death and his search for answers. Hainey was 6 years old when his father, newspaperman Bob Hainey, died suddenly, but questions remained about the circumstances around his death.

 

In Washington, D.C., Where ‘We’re All Obituaries Waiting to Happen’

Mark Leibovich | Blue Rider Press | August 2013 | 40 minutes (10,182 words)

A chapter from This Town, Leibovich’s insider tale of life inside the Beltway bubble of Washington, D.C., and how the social lives of political lifers, journalists and hangers-on complicate the truth about what really goes on in the capital.

 

The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side

Mark Oppenheimer | The Atlantic Books | November 2013 | 88 minutes (22,700 words)

A Kindle Single by Mark Oppenheimer and The Atlantic Books, about Eido Shimano, a Zen Buddhist monk accused of sexually exploiting students.

 

The Bones of Marianna, by David Kushner

David Kushner | The Atavist | October 2013

Kushner’s Kindle Single for The Atavist about decades of abuse at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

 

The End of a War, the End of an Army

Thomas E. Ricks | The Penguin Press | November 2012 | 22 minutes (5,533 words)

From Ricks’s book The Generals, Chapter 21 details how the U.S. military and its leadership faltered in the final years of the Vietnam War.

 

A Catastrophic Failure of Prediction

Nate Silver | The Signal and the Noise, Penguin Press | 2012 | 37 minutes (9,052 words)

The first chapter from Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise.

 

Sempre Susan

Sigrid Nunez | Sempre Susan, Atlas | 2011 | 14 minutes (3,513 words)

An excerpt from Sigrid Nunez’s memoir Sempre Susan, as recommended by Emily Gould, the proprietor of Emily Books.

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Read more stories from Longreads Best of 2013

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Photo by Eva Rinaldi

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