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13 Of Our Favorite Personal Essays We Published This Year

A woman who confronted her abusive stepfather. A man who bought a house in Detroit for $500. A 33-year-old who suffered and survived a stroke. Reflections on love, loss, and life in these great essays.

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Why I Bought a House in Detroit For $500 — Drew Philp

hotograph by Mike Williams

After college, as his friends left Michigan for better opportunities, Drew Philp was determined to help fix his broken, chaotic city by building his own home in the middle of it. He was 23 years old.

When the Monster Saves You — Ashley C. Ford

Christina Lu for BuzzFeed

Ashley Ford came out to her middle school guidance counselor. What happened when, four months later, her counselor was arrested for sexual misconduct.

The Worst Day of My Life Is Now New York's Hottest Tourist Attraction — Steve Kandell

STAN HONDA / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly 13 years after his sister’s death, Steve Kandell paid a reluctant Sunday visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where public spectacle and private grief have a permanent home together.

Try to Leave Me If You Can — Katherine Faw Morris

Justine Zwiebel/BuzzFeed

Wilkes County, North Carolina, isn't so far — physically — from where she lives now, but to Katherine Faw Morris, her impoverished home is now worlds away.

I Was Sure Freezing My Eggs Would Solve Everything — Doree Shafrir

Illustration by Kelsey King for BuzzFeed

When she was 35 and single in New York City, Doree Shafrir was convinced she'd be alone forever. Would undergoing a costly procedure to buy herself time be the right choice?

The Sad, Strange, True Story of Sandy Allen, the Tallest Woman in the World — Sandra Allen


At 7'7", Sandy Allen was the tallest woman on earth. When the author discovered the coincidence of their names, she began looking into the fascinating and deeply sad life of this Indiana woman, who died a folk hero.

Piecing Together My Abusive Ex-Boyfriend’s Final Summer — Leigh Stein

Jenny Chang/BuzzFeed

Leigh Stein thought if she could figure out why he’d stabbed someone, then died in a motorcycle crash, she'd be able to find closure with their abusive relationship. But the story of his death was just as complicated as that of his life.

I Had a Stroke at 33 — Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

Illustration by Perrin for BuzzFeed

On New Year’s Eve 2007, a clot blocked one half of Christine Hyung-Oak Lee's brain from the other. Her reality would never be the same again.

How Madewell Bought and Sold My Family's History — Dan Nosowitz

Dan Nosowitz / BuzzFeed

In 1937, Dan Nosowitz's great-grandfather started a workwear company in New England called Madewell. In 2006, 17 years after the last factory shut down, J.Crew relaunched a women’s clothing company with the same name and logo, based on a 50-year history in which it had no part.

The Strange, Isolated Life of a Tuberculosis Patient in the 21st Century — Natalie Shure

llustration by Ashley Mackenzie for BuzzFeed

While volunteering for the Peace Corps in Ukraine in 2010, Natalie Shure contracted a severe version of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Two years of painful, isolating treatment taught her the vital role social media may play in finally eradicating this disease.

What Having an Abortion in 1959 Was Like — Diana Wiener

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

A 74-year-old grandmother tells the story of this illegal, secret, expensive and incredibly scary experience.

My Stepfather, the Peeping Tom — Michelle Tea

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

Michelle Tea's mother’s husband confessed to having spied on her in her bedroom and bathroom years ago. Figuring out how to maintain a relationship with him — and with her mother — has been traumatic, even if they don’t consider it sexual abuse.

How I Escaped a Kidnapping Attempt in Yemen — Gregory D. Johnsen

Illustration by Sam Kalda for BuzzFeed

Yemen was like a home away from home for Gregory D. Johnsen — until the day he was nearly abducted in broad daylight. How having narrowly missed suffering a grim fate has affected his relationship with that country.

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