What’s a Language, Anyway? by John McWhorter - The realities of speech are much more complicated than the words used to describe it
English is Not Normal by John McWhorter - No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language
How Immigration Changes Language by John McWhorter - The invention of new ways of speaking is one surprising consequence of migration to Europe
What the World Will Speak in 2115 by John McWhorter - A century from now, expect fewer but simpler languages on every continent
The World’s Most Efficient Languages by John McWhorter - How much do you really need to say to put a sentence together?
The Evolution of ‘Like’ by John McWhorter - How the ubiquitous, often-reviled word associated with young people and slackers represents the ever-changing English language
The Foolish, Malicious War on Apostrophe’s by John McWhorter - However careless people may be to the apostrophe when they text, in formal writing, the little bugger is—unfortunately—with us to stay.
Why ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages by John McWhorter - The story of a linguistic coincidence
Thick of Tongue by John McWhorter - I am one of those unfortunate black people who sound white…
What’s Holding Blacks Back? by John McWhorter - Is it black attitudes, rather than white racism, that are to blame?
The Big Uneasy by Nathan Heller - What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus?
Renewing the University by Alan Jacobs - When students demand the intervention of administrative authority to solve every little conflict, they end up simply reinforcing a power structure in which students and faculty alike are stripped of moral agency
The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt - In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like
The Trigger Warning Myth by Aaron R. Hanlon
- Coddled students aren’t the cause of a mental health crisis on campus, they’re just pawns in the culture wars
The Doctrine of Academic Freedom
by Sandra Y.L. Korn
- Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice
Academic Freedom Is Academic Justice by Garrett M. Lam - Experimental results, unlike institutional practices, cannot run counter to our values since they are neither moral nor immoral but amoral
A huge collection of all the best articles/essays we read in 2017, plus a a few from 2016 that we missed last year…. enjoy!
After Life by Joan Didion - In the aftermath of her husband’s death, Didion meditates on the fragility of life
Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes by David Foster Wallace - I grew up inside vectors, lines and lines athwart lines, grids - and, on the scale of horizons, broad curving lines of geographic force
Three by David Sedaris - A trio of the best Sedaris stories including The Youth in Asia, Jesus Shaves and Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities
Peculiar Benefits by Roxane Gay - Until visiting Haiti, I had no idea what poverty really was or the difference between relative and absolute poverty
Mirrorings by Lucy Grealy - An outstanding essay that describes the author’s changing self image as she went through years of reconstructive facial surgery
Scars by David Owen - A life in injuries
The Kingdom of Snow and Ghosts by Michael Chabon - There may never again be a tedium so wretched and marvelous as that produced by television in the heyday of the aerial
Dead Man Laughing by Zadie Smith - “My father had few enthusiasms, but he loved comedy.”
Patient by Rachel Riederer - Two of the tires are sitting on my left leg, and my right leg is wedged into the little crevice between the pairs
Mistakes Were Made, Errors Happened by Karl Taro Greenfeld - I was looking for a soft future and didn’t see any reason why a kid like me wouldn’t find his way in the Tokyo summer
The Power of Touch - Touch is the first of our senses to develop, and it remains emotionally central to our lives. Why have scientists been slow to appreciate its power?
Lies vs. Your Brain - Unfortunately, it’s no contest. Here’s what psychology tells us about how our minds process lies
How We Learn Fairness - It’s a truth universally acknowledged that capuchin monkeys prefer grapes to cucumbers…
Pornucopia - Critics say that porn degrades women, dulls sexual pleasure, and ruins authentic relationships – are they right?
Why Can’t We Fall Asleep? - Here’s what’s supposed to happen when you fall asleep…
The Work We Do While We Sleep - It’s strange, when you think about it, that we spend close to a third of our lives asleep…
The Walking Dead - Did you get enough sleep last night? Are you feeling fully awake, like your brightest, smartest, and most capable self?
Why Not a Three-Day Week? - Why working longer may not mean working better
No, Mornings Don’t Make You Moral - No, Mornings Don’t Make You Moral
When It’s Bad to Have Good Choices - It may not surprise you to learn that healthy, well-fed people in affluent countries are often unhappy and anxious…
Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect - If some people require fewer hours and some require more to reach an identical point, doesn’t that imply that some individual difference other than practice is at play?
Why Are Babies So Dumb If Humans Are So Smart? - As a species, humans are incredibly smart so why are our babies are among the dumbest—or, rather, the most helpless—that exist?
Could boredom be curable? - An elusive human annoyance may finally be yielding its secrets
How to Tell When Someone Is Lying - Many of us believe that we can tell when someone else is lying, and, over the years, a folklore has developed around the facial and physical cues that can give someone away…
You Have No Idea What Happened - Why we remember so many things wrong
Problems Too Disgusting to Solve - Why nobody wants to drink recycled pee
I Don’t Want to Be Right - If factual correction is ineffective, how can you make people change their misperceptions?
A Call for Spelling Standardization (or Is That Standardisation?) - British English, American English, Noah Webster English, or New Yorker English? Let’s just pick one and stick with it
Love by Lauren Slater - Scientists say that the brain chemistry of infatuation is akin to mental illness—which gives new meaning to ‘madly in love’
Masters of Love by Emily Esfahani Smith - Science says lasting relationships come down to — you guessed it —kindness and generosity
This is Emo by Chuck Klosterman - No
woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to
deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a
No Labels, No Drama, Right? by Jordana Narin - Every time his name popped up on my phone, my heart raced. Still, we were never more than semiaffiliated…
In Relationships, Be Deliberate by Emily Esfahani Smith and Galena Rhoades - For milestones like moving in together, intent (rather than chronology) determines success
Love Is Like Cocaine by Helen Fisher - From ecstasy to withdrawal, the lover resembles an addict
My Superpower Is Being Alone Forever by Joe Berkowitz and Joanna Neborsky - Sometimes
when a radiant single lady comes floating along the sidewalk like a
dream, I think about stopping her. But I never would…
Twelve Rude Revelations About Sex by Alain de Botton - In
order to transcend the discomfort that sex typically stirs, you may
need to radically rethink desire, marriage, fidelity, and much more
Why Developing Serious Relationships in Your 20s Matters by Elizabeth Spiers - Are
you in your twenties? Have you been told that now is your time to build
your own life and not worry about things like settling down and having
London Bridge Is Down by Sam Knight - The secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death
You Are the Product by John Lanchester - No human enterprise, no new technology or utility or service, has ever been adopted so widely so quickly…
This Article Won’t Change Your Mind by Julie Beck - The facts on why facts alone can’t fight false beliefs
Constant Anxiety Won’t Save the World by Julie Beck - Spreading fear and worry about issues you care about on social media can lead to burnout rather than action
The Nationalist’s Delusion by Adam Serwer - Trump’s supporters backed a time-honored American political tradition, disavowing racism while promising to enact a broad agenda of discrimination
A Bigger Problem Than ISIS? by Dexter Filkins - The Mosul Dam is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people
Why The Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming From Inside The White House by Michael Lewis - Does anyone in the White House really understand what the Department of Energy actually does?
What’s Killing America’s Black Infants? by Zoe Carpenter - Racism is fueling a national health crisis
To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation by Jeanne Marie Laskas - Over eight years, through millions of letters, the staff of the White House mailroom read the unfiltered story of a nation
How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder by Philip Ball - What’s the difference between physics and biology?
For more great reads last year check out our 100 Best Articles of 2016 and 2017!
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion - This 1968 classic captured its era like few other books
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris - A great collection of classic Sedaris including countless much loved pieces
My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum - A collection of outstanding essays about growing up in Generation X
Just Kids by Patti Smith - On art, love and music in a lost New York
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch - A spelldinding memoir of sexuality, gender and violence
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers - A story of lost youth that pushes the boundaries of nonfiction
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - A classic tale of a dysfunctional, counter-cultural childhood spent in extreme poverty
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison - A deeply personal mediation on empathy
Hunger by Roxane Gay - A memoir of the author’s body
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan - A breathtaking and harrowing account of mental illness
Irritable Hearts by Mac McClelland - On love and PTSD
The Machine Zone by Alexis C. Madrigal - This is where you go when you just can’t stop looking at pictures on Facebook
Think Globally, Destroy Locally by Alexis C. Madrigal - Environmentalism for the 21st Century
Extra T Alexis C. Madrigal - Why testosterone is the drug of the future
The Perfect Milk Machine by Alexis C. Madrigal - While there are more than 8 million Holstein dairy cows in the US, there is one bull that has been scientifically calculated to be the very best in the land. He goes by the name of Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddi
How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood by Alexis C. Madrigal - Inside the mind of Netflix’s amazing genre classification engine
A collection of paired essays offering alternative perspectives on contentious topics - a great resource for teachers and students