It’s been a heck of a year. From a Senate race that transfixed the nation to a series of terrifying bombings in Austin to child separation policies at our border, Texas has been in the spotlight. But that’s not all we’ve been up to: Readers also came for our longform, from stories about Stephen Willeford, the hero of the Sutherland Springs shooting, to social media hysteria in Houston. Below are the Texas Monthly stories that garnered the most attention from our readers. (Head here for more of our favorite longform from 2018.)


20.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Attorney General Ken Paxton Spread False Information on Austin Bombings

Paxton incorrectly whipped up fear on Sean Hannity’s national television show.

By R.G. Ratcliffe


19.

Courtesy of Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) and the NOAA STAR Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB)

Why Dust From the Sahara Is Covering the Texas Sky

The Saharan dust brings us hotter days, hazy skies, and nicer sunsets.

By Doyin Oyeniyi


18.

Chris Covatta/Getty, Paul Chmielowiec/Getty

Forget the Polls — What Are the Betting Odds on Beto O’Rourke Versus Ted Cruz?

Let’s see where people are putting their money.

By Dan Solomon


17.

Johnny Hanson/Houston Chronicle/AP

The NRA Calls a Cease-Fire on Austin-Based Yeti Coolers

Stop blowing up your expensive coolers, says the firearms lobby.

By R.G. Ratcliffe


16.

Photographs by Matt Johnson

How a New Generation Is Reviving Small-Town Texas

Dismayed by sky-high rents and yearning for a slower-paced lifestyle, a new crop of Texans has ditched the big city to foster a rural renaissance across the state.

By John Nova Lomax


15.

Photograph by Jeff Wilson

The Astronaut Who Might Actually Get Us to Mars

The improbable journey of Franklin Chang Díaz, who immigrated to the U.S. at eighteen, became an astronaut, tied the record for most spaceflights, and now might hold the key to deep space travel.

By Katy Vine


14.

Pat Sullivan/AP

Clara Harris, Who Killed Cheating Husband With Her Mercedes, Released From Prison

Originally sentenced to twenty years for first degree murder, the former Houston dentist has been paroled.

By Skip Hollandsworth


13.

Illustration by David Palumbo

A Farewell to Dairy Queens

A recent spate of closures of the iconic restaurant chain has left many communities in the lurch.

By Loren Steffy


12.

Illustration by Edward Kinsella

The Doting Boyfriend Who Robbed Armored Cars

Beginning in 2015, Houston was plagued by a series of brutal armored car robberies that bewildered FBI agents for nearly two years. To finally bring down the unassuming mastermind behind it all, the agents had to stage an elaborate trap—and catch him in the act.

By Skip Hollandsworth


11.

Photograph by Trevor Paulhus

The Girl Who Told the Truth

A decade ago, Gabby Sones accused her parents and five others of running the most depraved child sex ring in Texas history. Now she’s ready to clear their names.

By Michael Hall


10.

Illustration by Jennifer Day; Alamo: SeanPavonePhoto/Getty

Should Texas Schoolchildren Be Taught That Alamo Defenders Were ‘Heroic’?

A committee is recommending that the State Board of Education cut the word from the school curriculum standards because it is ‘value-charged.’

By Carlos Sanchez


9.

What Could Ted Cruz’s Campaign Have Meant When It Called Beto O’Rourke a ‘Triple Meat Whataburger Liberal’?

Thank you, Ted Cruz campaign, for introducing the Whataburger-themed insult to Texas politics.

By Dan Solomon


8.

Photograph by LeAnn Mueller

The Hero of the Sutherland Springs Shooting Is Still Reckoning with What Happened that Day

A year in the life of Stephen Willeford, who disrupted the mass murder in his small town’s First Baptist Church and became known as the ultimate good guy with a gun.

By Michael J. Mooney


7.

Illustration by Tim McDonagh

How Houston Lost Its Mind Over a Trump Shirt

Outside a cookie shop in one of Houston’s most idyllic neighborhoods, a West University Place council member spied Trump’s name on a teenager’s shirt and yelled a few of the president’s worst words at her. Then the internet found out. It’s springtime in the age of hysteria.

By Mimi Swartz


6.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Beto O’Rourke’s Commentary on NFL Player Protests Is Blowing Up the Internet

“I can think of nothing more American,” the candidate said. It’s another viral hit for the digital wunderkind.

By Leif Reigstad


5.

Oli Scarff/Getty

Alex Jones’s Attorneys Argue That No Reasonable Person Would Believe What He Says

The Infowars honcho’s legal troubles mount.

By Dan Solomon


4.

Illustration by Corey Brickley

The Cartel Next Door

How prosecutors tied a brazen murder in an upscale Dallas suburb to one of Mexico’s most violent criminal organizations.

By Michael J. Mooney


3.

Illustration by Peter Strain

The Love Story That Upended the Texas Prison System

In 1967, a 56-year-old lawyer met a young inmate with a brilliant mind and horrifying stories about life inside. Their complicated alliance—and even more complicated romance—would shed light on a nationwide scandal, disrupt a system of abuse and virtual slavery across the state, and change incarceration in Texas forever.

By Ethan Watters


2.

Courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts; Retouching: Will Herwig

Schlitterbahn’s Tragic Slide

Jeff Henry often said that his goal in life was to make customers of his family’s legendary water parks happy—“to put a smile on their faces, to give them a thrill or two.” It was a beautiful vision. Until it went horribly wrong.

By Skip Hollandsworth


1.

John Moore/Getty

What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated?

An expert on helping parents navigate the asylum process describes what she’s seeing on the ground.

By Katy Vine