The Morning: Overlooked stories

Good reads and listens you may have missed.

December 27, 2021

By the staff of The Morning

Good morning. Today we look back at stories from this year that didn't receive as much attention as they deserved.

A photo by Isaac Wright during a climb on the Queensboro Bridge.Isaac Wright

Overlooked stories

How does a New York Times story get overlooked? Often, it's a case of bad luck. We publish a great piece of writing, then some major news occupies everyone's attention for the day. Or editors make a last-minute change that cuts an article from this newsletter or moves it off the front page.

As we did at the end of last year, the Morning team reached out to editors around the Times newsroom to ask for their favorite articles — and, this year, podcast episodes — that may have flown under the radar.

If there's one thing that bonds the stories in this collection, it's that they remain relevant after a year in which so much of our world seemed to change. "It ran inside the paper," one editor said about a story he sent us, "but it has aged well."

Enjoy these 25 great stories.

1. Isaac Wright's PTSD therapy was climbing. His climbing made him a fugitive.

2. A day in the life of a pro tennis ball kid.

3. This conversation will change how you think about thinking.

4. Democrats loved Iowa. Iowa stopped loving them back.

5. The beach buskers, bait sellers and heladeros that make a New York City summer.

6. There are parts of the West where the stars shine so bright they light up the sand. But when the world is on fire, all you see is smoke.

7. Building homes for the 21st century: "It's cool as hell. And it's modern, and it's noncombustible."

8. An easy way to prevent heat deaths: Plant more trees.

9. To power the earth, some start-ups are looking to the energy that powers the sun.

10. An assault left a Venezuelan girl pregnant. Her mother and teacher were arrested over her abortion.

11. The Ethiopian government rounded up people of Tigrayan descent — young men and women, mothers with children, the elderly.

12. People predicted the pandemic would kill cities. They were wrong.

Stylish in New York City.OK McCausland for The New York Times

13. Ten photographers showed us how America dresses.

14. Sophie made music that sounded like joy. "It's unashamed. It's proud. It's loud."

15. When the local video store went out of business, he built his own — in his basement.

16. They looked at Bitcoin's technology and saw a new way to build the internet.

17. Dave Eggers can see the tech dystopia on our horizon.

18. We were promised self-driving cars. What's taking so long?

19. Qualified immunity protects police officers. Two lawyers debated whether that's a good thing.

20. A novel made the editor of Vanity Fair ask: "What are the limits of humanity?"

21. What parenting in a pandemic sounds like. "I can't escape these kids. They eat all day long."

22. A discovery in low gravity: For the first time in his life, he could stand.

23. Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record. We tracked it step by step.

24. Was that million-dollar basketball card signed by Mom?

25. Goodbye to a Yankee farmer, the ghost of Exit 8.


The Virus
  • Winsome Sears, Virginia's incoming lieutenant governor, is a Black woman, an immigrant and a Trump supporter. She wants voters of color to rethink the G.O.P.
  • Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running for Senate in Pennsylvania, is under renewed scrutiny for his history of dispensing dubious medical advice.
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu in Cape Town in 2018.Sumaya Hisham/Reuters
Other Big Stories
A training session near Kyiv, Ukraine, this month.Oksana Parafeniuk for The New York Times

"A writer uniquely attuned to the disorder and fragmentation of our times." Michiko Kakutani remembers Joan Didion.

Omicron is not a story about the failure of vaccines or a sign that Covid will forever dominate our lives, Daniela Lamas argues.

Politico rounded up the year's worst political predictions.

Subscribers enjoy more.

Stay fully informed with unlimited access to every article. Subscribe to The Times today.


Great find: He paid $30 for a drawing. It could be worth millions.

Yassification: Catherine was great. But was she a girl boss?

Quiz time: Have you taken the Great News Quiz of 2021 yet?

Advice from Wirecutter: Consider a new cellphone plan or carrier.

Lives Lived: Jean-Marc Vallée, the director behind the film "Dallas Buyers Club" and the HBO show "Big Little Lies," was famous for a naturalistic and generous approach that brought out the best in those he worked with. He died at 58.

Edward O. Wilson was a biologist and author who conducted pioneering work on biodiversity, insects and human nature. He died at 92.


The New York Times

(A lot of) best books

The editors of the Times Book Review read a lot of books every year. They also compile a lot of lists, and we're here to help you make sense of them.

From 100 notable books …: Fiction, memoirs, nonfiction or poetry — this list has it all.

… to the top 10: The editors deliberate throughout the year to whittle the list of 100 down to 10.

Critic's picks: The Times's book critics also make their own lists based on the books they reviewed throughout the year. (If you want to know how they get there, you can read their discussion.)

Gift list: Books make for excellent gifts, and these 71 dazzling titles — including thrillers, cookbooks, photography collections and more — will delight any reader.

The outside: We know not to judge a book by its cover, but some covers deserve praise. The Book Review's art director picked his favorites.


What to Cook
David Malosh for The New York Times

Take leftover ham, sauté onions and make irresistible bite-size sandwiches.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art hopes to entice visitors with 150 Disney artifacts.

What to Watch

"West Side Story" used to be a musical told through movement. Now, The Times's dance critic writes, it's a musical "told through words. So many, many words."

Now Time to Play

The pangram from yesterday's Spelling Bee was flipbook. Here is today's puzzle — or you can play online.

Here's today's Mini Crossword, and a clue: Morning pastry (five letters).

If you're in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. After invading Afghanistan, Soviet troops killed the country's president 42 years ago today. The war would last more than nine years.

"The Daily" is an update on the labor shortage in the U.S. On the Book Review podcast, David Sedaris and Paul Muldoon.

Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti, Ashley Wu and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at

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