The best long reads of 2013

10 of our most thought-provoking features — as chosen by you

Looking for some quality reading this holiday season? We’ve crunched the numbers and compiled a list of the year’s most popular long reads: the 10 most-read pieces of longform journalism on Macleans.ca.

Read on for links to some of this year’s most thought-provoking cover stories, investigations and features, from the gluten-free craze to the federal muzzling of scientists, the genius of a teenage physicist to why it’s time to legalize marijuana. Note: As some stories have evolved since publication, we’ve kept this list to those pieces we felt remained timely, relevant and engaging for a later read. When you’re finished with our top posts, peruse the rest of our most popular long reads.

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Jacob Barnett, boy genius
by Paul Wells

As a young child, he was diagnosed with severe autism. But his mother saw the spark of brilliance.

The dangers of gluten-free
by Cathy Gulli

Could one of the year’s most prominent health fads be doing more harm than good?

The new underclass
by Chris Sorensen

Why a generation of well-educated, ambitious, smart young Canadians has no future

Why Canada doesn’t work
by Chris Sorensen

With more excuses than solutions on the table, Canada’s skills mismatch could sink the economy

Why it’s time to legalize marijuana
by Ken MacQueen

After decades of wasted resources, clogged courtrooms and a shift in public perception, let’s end the war on weed

The heaven boom
by Brian Bethune

Heaven is hot again, and hell is colder than ever. Why so many people–including scientists–suddenly believe in an afterlife

When science goes silent
by Jonathon Gatehouse

With the muzzling of scientists, Stephen Harper’s obsession with controlling the government’s message verges on the Orwellian

The housing trap
by Charlie Gillis

Home ownership has troubling side effects, distorting the economy and taking a toll on our minds and bodies

Land of misfortune
by Tamsin McMahon

Why the world’s best and brightest struggle to find jobs in Canada, of all places

The wonder of Chris Hadfield
by Kate Lunau

He saw Earth from above, and shared his experience aboard the ISS with millions