The year in review: Our most-read feature articles of 2021, part 2

The coronavirus crisis and the volcanic eruption on La Palma dominated the news headlines over the past 12 months, but readers of the EL PAÍS English Edition had a wealth of other topics to discover. Check out numbers one to 10 on our list

Ursula Corbero Jimmy Fallon
Úrsula Corberó on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.’
Simon Hunter

Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, another extraordinary year of news is drawing to a close. Just like in 2020, the EL PAÍS newsroom has been working flat out to inform the public of all the latest developments from the health crisis, and the English Edition has been toiling just as hard to bring all of that news to its readers too.

It’s no surprise, then, to see that numerous news stories about Covid-19 are among our most-read articles of the year, accompanied, of course, by coverage of the spectacular eruption of a new volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma.

But away from current affairs, the English Edition has brought its readers a regular diet of feature articles too, on subjects ranging from a Brazilian model with Down syndrome making a stand on the catwalk, to how the existence of a new planetary body could explain the peculiar movements of celestial objects orbiting beyond Neptune

This is part two of our curated list of most-read feature articles of the year, you can read part 1 here.

Thanks to you all for reading, and let’s hope for everyone’s sake that there is a little bit less news in 2022...

10. ‘Money Heist’ star Úrsula Corberó dazzles Jimmy Fallon on US late-night debut

Spanish TV show ‘Money Heist’ took the world by storm when it was picked up by Netflix, and the last episodes of its run recently landed on the streaming service. One of the biggest stars to emerge from the phenomenon is Úrsula Corberó, who made a spectacular debut on US late-night talk shows with Jimmy Fallon.

9. I just took a two-week trip from Spain to the UK with my family – here’s what it was like, and what it cost

Forgive the autobombo, as the Spanish would say, but understandably there has been huge interest in the travel restrictions since the coronavirus pandemic hit – in particular, for our readers, between the UK and Spain. In this post from our Trans-Iberian blog, this journalist recounted a family trip to England this Easter, detailing the cost of the Covid testing involved as well as the eery post-apocalyptic scenes in Gatwick Airport.

8. Basque ‘genetic singularity’ confirmed in largest-ever study

An article that examines the largest-ever study of almost 2,000 DNA samples carried out by researchers at Pompeu Fabra university (UPF) in Barcelona, and which confirmed the “genetic singularity” of the Basques in Europe. Interestingly, this story found most readers in the United States.

7. Spanish fan of ‘Gone with the Wind’ star Vivien Leigh to auction off rare memorabilia

Elvira Clara Bonet, from Barcelona, kept up a decade-long correspondence with Hollywood legend Vivien Leigh and amassed a collection of personal objects were due to go under the hammer earlier this year.

6. The underwater ‘hotspot’ feeding La Palma’s volcano will create new islands

Our stories about the eruption of the new volcano on La Palma were hugely popular with readers all over the world, but none more so than this one, which examines how the Canary Islands were formed and what is likely to happen to them in the future.

5. The WWI British spy who lived over ancient treasure on a Spanish islet

Hugh Borthwick, the Scot who owned the outcrop of Fraile in the 1910s, ignored the Roman and Islamic vestiges at his feet: he was too busy keeping his eye on passing German warships. This is his story.

4. Planet X: a new member of the Solar System club?

Astronomers are investigating “strange” movements that in 2016 led to the theory of the existence of an additional planet beyond Neptune’s orbit that has not yet been detected. This potential planet has become known colloquially as Planet 9, or Planet X. As with many of our science stories, this one proved a viral hit.

3. Maju de Araújo, the Brazilian model with Down syndrome making a stand on the catwalk

Maria Julia de Araújo, 19, is a model who is less than five feet tall, well below the usual height required for the catwalks. She doesn’t have a slender body like the top models who grace magazine covers worldwide. She has long, straight hair, almond-shaped brown eyes and an easy smile. Even so, Maju, as she is known, has become a model of international renown.

2. ‘We will be dying from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in a decade’

“If we don’t do something, in 20 years the antibiotics that exist today will not be able to treat the infections we have. It’s going to be the next pandemic.” So explained Edith Heard, director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, in this interview with EL PAÍS.

1. A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our most-read story of 2020 is also our most-read story of 2021. This groundbreaking article has been seen more than 20 million times in its original Spanish version, has been translated from Spanish to six different languages, and has crossed borders thanks to its concise and visual way of explaining how the coronavirus is transmitted via aerosols. It has also picked up a number of awards, including the Kavli Science Award, considered the Pulitzer of scientific journalism.

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