What do you like to read about? Believe it or not, we don’t always know. 

We’ve published stories that we thought would be our greatest hits, only to watch them fizzle on the fuse. Likewise, we’ve run articles that we suspected might be too weird for you, and you apparently adored them. (Our sixth-most popular story of the year, barely missing the cut here, is about human composting.) Which is to say, you’re an unpredictable, nonconformist pack of free thinkers, and we wouldn’t have you any other way. 

Here are our five most popular stories of 2021.

Credit: TNC

5. World’s Largest Seagrass Project Proves “You Can Actually Restore the Oceans”

One thing we’ve learned about you is that stories about the oceans call to you like the Sirens’ song. Maybe it’s a spiritual thing. Maybe the seas are sacrosanct. Maybe you just can’t get enough of the beach. Whatever the reason, this one struck a chord, seaweed and all.

Cool pavement LA
Photo courtesy of StreetsLA

4. L.A.’s New Reflective Streets Bounce Heat Back into Space

It’s getting hot out there. Especially in cities, summer heat is turning into a perennial health hazard. So we’re not altogether surprised that this story about heat-repelling streets got your attention. Sometimes something as simple as a coat of paint can make for the most compelling solution. Throw in an outer-space angle, and it seems you’re all ears.

Credit: Peter Helm

3. Vancouver Gave Homeless People $5,800. It Changed Their Lives.

Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where a single infusion of cash could mean the difference between paying — or not paying — next month’s rent, a parking fine, a tuition bill. It’s a common dilemma, which is why perhaps so many of you were so taken by this story of transforming lives with a single boost of financial help.

Credit: Israel Andrade

2. Spain’s Four-Day Work Week Is a Game Changer

If you’re a former office worker turned digital nomad, you probably sense that work will never be the same. Perhaps you now have more control over when, where and how much you work. As with many societal sea changes, governments are playing catch up. But we suspect that many of you have been ready to embrace this particular change for years.

Photo courtesy Hamburg Sanitation Department

1. Don’t Toss It, Fix It! Europe Is Guaranteeing Citizens the “Right to Repair”

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that you, the Reasons to be Cheerful reader, would have a passion for fixing things. After all, it’s our raison d’être. But your enthusiasm for this story has revealed an even deeper affinity for mending, revamping and otherwise resurrecting apparently broken things rather than throwing up your hands and walking away. Great minds think alike.