The Best American Magazine Writing 2019

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

2019 was a tough year in current events. 
This collection of exemplary magazine writing helps make sense of it all and to put words to events and issues we are facing that, at times, seem to make no sense at all. And for that, I thank all the journalists and writers, as well as the editor. I’d recommend this to, well, anyone. 

Thanks to @NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
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A very strong collection of work from 2019 with a good variety of tones and themes. It is heavy on socio-political reporting--but let's be honest, that's where most of the best work is happening. As someone who feels a bit overwhelmed by how much magazine/blog writing is out there in the world, it is nice to have a solid collection to get a feel for what is happening in long form journalism.
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I’ve always loved the Best American collections. They’re a fantastic way to discover new or new to you writers and incredible work you may have missed over the year. This was my first time reading Best American Magazines but I adored it!

Even if you love magazines like me, it’s impossible to read every great article. This collection is full of award nominated and winning pieces from a wide variety of sources, online and paper, regional and national. Often when reading any type of anthology, some pieces will stand out and others will be not so good or even hard to get through. Best American Magazines 2019 is so expertly curated that there’s not a single dud in the bunch. In my mind and as the editor himself says in the introduction, journalism is in a new sort of golden age with an unprecedented amount of diverse writers writing about diverse topics. We see this prominently in this collection which includes two pieces by formerly incarcerated authors looking at the prison industrial complex and life after, a story on immigration, one on the end of life, and so many other unique and worthwhile reads. 

I initially considered writing a sentence or two about each piece in this collection but there’s 17 and they’re all so unique and worthwhile. I think different pieces will stand out or feel more meaningful and important to different people. For me, someone who majored in Middle East Studies and who is deeply fascinated in the region, the piece I felt most grateful to read was Ben Taub’s Shallow Graves about the aftermath of the defeat of ISIS in Iraq. It was such a devastating and heartbreaking piece and something, even as someone who reads extensively in the region and with a special interest in terrorism and counterterrorism, I was completely unaware of. Ben Taub writes about the lawless nature of how the corrupt Iraqi government is dealing with people who had been associated with ISIS and frankly, endless numbers of innocents who are getting caught up in this attempt to render justice. I think my jaw dropped reading this piece. I had nightmares. It really affected me. 

I was also so stunned by the final piece, Skinned by Lesley Nneka Arimah, a Nigerian woman author, the lone fiction piece in the collection. It looks at women and agency versus being controlled by men, their bodies, their freedom or lack thereof, and the societal effects. I think this is a story that will stick with me for a long time. It was absolutely stunning and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone. Truly short fiction at its absolute finest. I can’t wait to get my hands on her short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.

Other notable pieces for me were Hannah Drier’s A Betrayal about a teen who so desperately sought to escape his connection to the MS-13 gang and was screwed over in the end by the cops and FBI and instead of being protected was sent back to his home country by ICE to a certain death. I also gained a lot from both Robert Wright and Reginald Dwayne Betts pieces on incarceration and their lives and struggles afterwards. I was also surprised by how much I both learned and enjoyed from Jeff MacGregor’s Taming the Lionfish about the ecosystem threatening abundance of the Lionfish and how various passionate and dedicated Floridians are working to do what they can about the situation. 

Truly an outstanding collection of pieces all around and I could honestly rave about each and every piece. Highly recommended for fellow journalism and nonfiction lovers. And check out that Lesley Nneka Arimah story!
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As indicated, this book does contain the Best American Magazine Writing 2019. All seventeen stories are winners or finalists in prestigious writing competitions. 

The stories are all non-fiction. The subjects vary from porn presidents to life in prison to end of life choices. 

My personal favorite is “How to be an Artist” that contains 35 rules to make a life for yourself in art. I am still imagining what my life totem would look like. Obviously, it would have quite a few books incorporated in it—just like my life.

If you enjoy watching documentaries or news magazine shows, Best American Magazine Writing 2019 is a good choice. The stories are interesting and varied. 4 stars!

Thanks to Columbia University Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Solid investigative articles on everything from health issues to drug dealing to immigration, culled from major magazines in 2019. I could have done without the editor's overly self-praising introduction, but the rest offers interesting and good reads from excellent journalists.
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There are many concerns by those in the writing profession that magazine journalism is on the decline, however this collection certainly proves that theory wrong. I read all of the Best American series that I can get my hands on, and I am all too happy to read a collection of magazine writing as well. Great editing job and I look forward to the next book in the series.
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Another wonderful collection of magazine articles reminds me of how much good incisive writing magazines produce.#netgalley#columbiauniverity
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What a great collection! Truly the best of 2019 and a great reminder that neither journalism nor magazines are dead just because they are more on digital paper than dead tree paper.
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A fun collection of the best magazine stories of 2019. Enjoyed this one!

Many thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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In the Introduction Adam Moss is worried about magazine-journalism in the age of the internet. There are many other kinds of journals around: short and medium-form written articles, photo-journalism, Twitter, Instagram etc. – it’s a question if magazine writing even exist in 2019. The book tries to prove that it does, and it’s a great collection of long-form articles from American journals.

The selected topics are about economy, politics, wars, #metoo, black guys in prison, etc., which is OK, but I’m not equally interested in all of these. In general, I found the first half of the book more interesting than the second.

First, A Kingdom from Dust is about a billionaire couple, who made a fortune by growing fruits in California with Mexican workers, and there’s an interesting twist about the water they used in the orchards. Shallow Graves is the actual best article in the book: I wasn’t aware of the situation in Iraq after ISIS. It’s a deep and moving article about the fate of the people, who remained in cities, which were occupied before by the Islamic State – and now they have to face the revenge of Iraq. The Genocide the U.S. Didn’t See Coming is about the rohingyas – again an important topic and a pretty good item.

There’s a National Geographic article about plastics – I’m not a huge fan of NG, nor this article is dramatic enough. The First Porn President, and changes is racism, mandatory subjects in 2019, but it seems the editor selected the most important topics instead of the best articles…

At the end, I enjoyed the prison-stories, but I wasn’t interested how can I die the best way in Columbia. Lionfishes and a Breakup Museum in Zagreb – a big step from the shallow graves, and at last a fictional story about a society, where non-married woman has to be naked on the street.

I don’t think these were the best magazine articles from the last year, but it’s a very good selection with important topics and interesting articles. Magazine journalism is definitely alive, and this book is a good source to see which journals I may read regularly.
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I read Skinned by Lesley Nneka Arimah, and I strongly recommend this piece. Wonderfully written and also a reflection of our created caste systems. This piece brings light to how we “other” people with labels, with Skinned using literal skin to show the society who is unmarried (uncovered) and who is married (covered in wife cloth). Recommended.
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