Long Reads Of The Week - 15 December

1 | Some heartening end-of-year reading: according to Zack Beauchamp at Think Progress, 2013 was the best year in human history, with war, poverty and inequality all in broad decline. And you thought we were all doomed.

2 | We spend a third of our lives asleep, and yet most of us don't understand how to do it properly. Writing for The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova explains how the brain works when we first wake up and why 'hitting snooze' is often the first bad decision we make each day.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

3 | Steve McQueen is being tipped as the first black man ever to win an Oscar for Best Director for 12 Years A Slave. Dan P. Lee's find out what making the film was like for him in an excellent interview for New York Times Magazine.

4 | Fan fiction has long been a subject of fun for people on the outside, but what happens when 'real' writers start faking it for fun? For The Verge, Adi Robertson delves into the world of unreliable authors, nerd trolling and the worst things ever written.

5 | In 2019, Eddie Izzard is planning a move into politics. But as the Guardian's Decca Aitkenhead discovers in surprisingly prickly interview, the comedian and marathon runner hasn't fleshed out too many of the details of his plan.