2021 Favorite Stories

Louise Matsakis
3 min readDec 31, 2021


It has been an incredibly rough year, both professionally and personally. But when I look back at what I read, I feel lucky to have spent so much time consuming amazing stories. Every December, I collect 30 of my favorites from the past 12 months — 10 about tech, 10 about China, and 10 that fit into a category that could more or less be labeled “general interest.” I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. (They are not listed in any particular order.)

General Interest

  1. The Human Toll of America’s Air Wars By Azmat Khan in The New York Times (December)
  2. The Abortion I Didn’t Have By Merritt Tierce in The New York Times (December)
  3. The Politics of Housework By Pat Mainardi in Redstockings (Originally published in 1970, but I read it this year)
  4. The Subtle Look and Overwhelming Feel of Today’s Misogyny By
    Anne Helen Petersen in Culture Study (November)
  5. Turkmenistan’s Dirty Secret By Aaron Clark and Matthew Campbell in Bloomberg Businessweek (October)
  6. Unlimited Sand and Money Still Won’t Save the Hamptons By Polly Mosendz and Eric Roston in Bloomberg Businessweek (October)
  7. The Shadow Penal System for Struggling Kids By Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker (October)
  8. The Time Tax By Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic (July)
  9. What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind By Jennifer Senior in The Atlantic (August)
  10. The Mysterious Origins of the Cerne Abbas Giant By Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker (May)

Technology, Baby!

  1. Revolt of the Delivery Workers By Josh Dzieza in New York Magazine and The Verge (September)
  2. The Pain Was Unbearable. So Why Did Doctors Turn Her Away? By Maia Szalavitz in WIRED (August)
  3. Bad News: Selling the story of disinformation By Joseph Bernstein in Harpers (August)
  4. Airbnb Is Spending Millions of Dollars to Make Nightmares Go Away By Olivia Carville in Bloomberg Businessweek (June)
  5. They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines — and Started a Cold War By Andy Greenberg in WIRED (April)
  6. Delicious biryani, compliments to the robo-chef By Varsha Bansal in Rest of World (June)
  7. ‘FIND THIS FUCK:’ Inside Citizen’s Dangerous Effort to Cash In On Vigilantism By Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler in Motherboard (May)
  8. I’ll Take ‘White Supremacist Hand Gestures’ for $1,000 By Ben Smith in The New York Times (May)
  9. Fact-checking Modi’s India By Sonia Faleiro in Rest of World (May)
  10. Domestic Workers in Gulf Countries Vent Woes on TikTok By Louise Donovan in The New York Times (April)

China & Taiwan

  1. In China, Tesla Is a Catfish, and Turns Auto Companies Into Sharks By Li Yuan in The New York Times (November)
  2. The Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth By Deborah Brautigam and Meg Rithmire in The Atlantic (February)
  3. Millions of Leaked Police Files Detail Suffocating Surveillance of China’s Uyghur Minority By Yael Grauer in The Intercept (January)
  4. Forget Amazon. Chinese ecommerce sellers are taking on the world By Zeyi Yang in Protocol (August)
  5. How a Dating App Helped a Generation of Chinese Come Out of the Closet By Yi-Ling Liu in The New York Times (March 2020, but I read it this year)
  6. Inside Aranya, China’s Exclusionary Paradise By Coral Yang in Sixth Tone (July)
  7. As China Targets H&M and Nike, Local Brands See Their Chance By Li Yuan in The New York Times (April)
  8. The road to electric is filled with tiny cars By Lavender Au in Rest of World (February)
  9. A Woman Called ‘Hey’ By Zhang Yue in Sixth Tone (November 2020, but I read it this year)
  10. Taiwan Hunters Contend With Taboos, and Trials, to Uphold Tradition By Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien in The New York Times (April)