I love non-fiction long-form articles. Shorter than a book; it’s a great way to dip your toes into topics you might not normally examine. Case in point: I never would have thought a story about the American professional croquet scene in the 1980s would be of any interest to me. I was wrong. Check out this story if you’re curious.
There’s no strict definition for the length of a long-form article but many agree that the sweet spot is several thousand words. Wikipedia suggests that an article is “long-form” once it crests the 10,000 word mark.
When it comes to consuming long-form content, I find one of the biggest problems is FINDING that content. There are simply too many fantastic sources for long-form articles right now (a great problem to have). In the age of overabundant information, curation is key.
These are the long-form aggregators I use most:
- The Browser
- Digg Longreads
- The Electric Typewriter
- Reddit: Foodforthought
- Reddit: Indepthstories
- Reddit: Longform
- The Sunday Long Read
Honorable mention if you enjoy podcasts: The Guardian's Audio Long Reads.
The above are all general interest sites that aggregate and curate content from the best sources across the web (e.g. The Atlantic, Deadspin, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Wired, etc.). There are subject-specific aggregators as well, but I prefer to use the general sites. It exposes me to new topics and new content sources.
To manage the content from the above sites, I use Feedly, a news aggregator. I have a “Long Form” collection that includes all of the above sites and combines them into a single manageable headline feed.
For consumption, my preferred method is to read long form articles on my Kindle Paperwhite. I use the “Push to Kindle” service from fivefilters.org. This service emails articles to your Kindle where you can consume, highlight and take notes on the downloaded copy. The browser extension is particularly convenient.
Coda: One of the first long-form articles I remember reading and being blown away by was Paul Ford’s What is Code which was a mammoth 38,000 words. This article along with Tim Urban’s The Story of Us series are true exemplars of contemporary long-form non-fiction.