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Essay Books Reading

There’s something about a shiny new collection of essays that makes my heart beat a little faster. If you feel the same way, can we be friends? If not, might I suggest that perhaps you just haven’t found the right collection yet? I don’t expect everyone to love the thought of sitting down with a nice, juicy personal essay, but I also think the genre gets a bad rap because people associate it with the kind of thing they had to write in school.

Well, essays don’t have to be like the kind of thing you wrote in school. Essays can be anything, really. They can be personal, confessional, argumentative, informative, funny, sad, shocking, sexy, and all of the above. The best essayists can make any subject interesting. If I love an essayist, I’ll read whatever they write. I’ll follow their minds anywhere. Because that’s really what I want out of an essay — the sense that I’m spending time with an interesting mind. I want a companionable, challenging, smart, surprising voice in my head.

So below is my list, not of essay collections I think everybody “must read,” even if that’s what my title says, but collections I hope you will consider checking out if you want to.

1. Against Interpretation — Susan Sontag
2. Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere — André Aciman
3. American Romances — Rebecca Brown
4. Art and Ardor — Cynthia Ozick
5. The Art of the Personal Essay — anthology, edited by Phillip Lopate
6. Bad Feminist — Roxane Gay
7. The Best American Essays of the Century — anthology, edited by Joyce Carol Oates
8. The Best American Essays series — published every year, series edited by Robert Atwan
9. Book of Days — Emily Fox Gordon
10. The Boys of My Youth — Jo Ann Beard
11. The Braindead Megaphone — George Saunders
12. Broken Republic: Three Essays — Arundhati Roy
13. Changing My Mind — Zadie Smith
14. A Collection of Essays — George Orwell
15. The Common Reader — Virginia Woolf
16. Consider the Lobster — David Foster Wallace
17. The Crack-up — F. Scott Fitzgerald
18. Discontent and its Civilizations — Mohsin Hamid
19. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric — Claudia Rankine
20. Dreaming of Hitler — Daphne Merkin
21. Self-Reliance and Other Essays — Ralph Waldo Emerson
22. The Empathy Exams — Leslie Jameson
23. Essays After Eighty — Donald Hall
24. Essays in Idleness — Yoshida Kenko
25. The Essays of Elia— Charles Lamb
26. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader — Anne Fadiman
27. A Field Guide to Getting Lost — Rebecca Solnit
28. Findings — Kathleen Jamie
29. The Fire Next Time — James Baldwin
30. The Folded Clock — Heidi Julavits
31. Forty-One False Starts — Janet Malcolm
32. How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America — Kiese Laymon
33. I Feel Bad About My Neck — Nora Ephron
34. I Just Lately Started Buying Wings — Kim Dana Kupperman
35. In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction — anthology, edited by Lee Gutkind
36. In Praise of Shadows — Junichiro Tanizaki
37. In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens — Alice Walker
38. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? — Mindy Kaling
39. I Was Told There’d Be Cake — Sloane Crosley
40. Karaoke Culture — Dubravka Ugresic
41. Labyrinths — Jorge Luis Borges
42. Living, Thinking, Looking — Siri Hustvedt
43. Loitering — Charles D’Ambrosio
44. Lunch With a Bigot — Amitava Kumar
45. Madness, Rack, and Honey — Mary Ruefle
46. Magic Hours — Tom Bissell
47. Meatless Days — Sara Suleri
48. Meaty — Samantha Irby
49. Meditations from a Movable Chair — Andre Dubus
50. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood — Mary McCarthy
51. Me Talk Pretty One Day — David Sedaris
52. Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal — Wendy S. Walters
53. My 1980s and Other Essays — Wayne Koestenbaum
54. The Next American Essay, The Lost Origins of the Essay, and The Making of the American Essay — anthologies, edited by John D’Agata
55. The Norton Book of Personal Essays — anthology, edited by Joseph Epstein
56. Notes from No Man’s Land — Eula Biss
57. Notes of a Native Son — James Baldwin
58. Not That Kind of Girl — Lena Dunham
59. On Beauty and Being Just — Elaine Scarry
60. Once I Was Cool — Megan Stielstra
61. 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write — Sarah Ruhl
62. On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored — Adam Phillips
63. On Lies, Secrets, and Silence — Adrienne Rich
64. The Opposite of Loneliness — Marina Keegan
65. Otherwise Known as the Human Condition — Geoff Dyer
66. Paris to the Moon — Adam Gopnik
67. Passions of the Mind — A.S. Byatt
68. The Pillow Book — Sei Shonagon
69. A Place to Live — Natalia Ginzburg
70. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination — Toni Morrison
71. Pulphead — John Jeremiah Sullivan
72. Selected Essays — Michel de Montaigne
73. Shadow and Act — Ralph Ellison
74. Sidewalks — Valeria Luiselli
75. Sister Outsider — Audre Lorde
76. The Size of Thoughts — Nicholson Baker
77. Slouching Towards Bethlehem — Joan Didion
78. The Souls of Black Folk — W. E. B. Du Bois
79. The Story About the Story — anthology, edited by J.C. Hallman
80. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again — David Foster Wallace
81. Ten Years in the Tub — Nick Hornby
82. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man — Henry Louis Gates
83. This Is Running for Your Life — Michelle Orange
84. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage — Ann Patchett
85. Tiny Beautiful Things — Cheryl Strayed
86. Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture — Gerald Early
87. Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints — Joan Acocella
88. The Unspeakable — Meghan Daum
89. Vermeer in Bosnia — Lawrence Weschler
90. The Wave in the Mind — Ursula K. Le Guin
91. We Need Silence to Find Out What We Think— Shirley Hazzard
92. We Should All Be Feminists — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi
93. What Are People For? — Wendell Berry
94. When I Was a Child I Read Books — Marilynne Robinson
95. The White Album — Joan Didion
96. White Girls — Hilton Als
97. The Woman Warrior — Maxine Hong Kinston
98. The Writing Life — Annie Dillard
99. Writing With Intent — Margaret Atwood
100. You Don’t Have to Like Me — Alida Nugent

If you have a favorite essay collection I’ve missed here, let me know in the comments!

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IMPORTANCE OF READING                (745 Words)

  • Introduction
  • It widens the horizon of thinking
  • It plays a key role in academic success
  • it’s an unending company
  • it brings the best out of someone
  • conclusion

Reading has at all times and in all ages been a great source of knowledge. Today the ability to read is highly valued and very important for social and economic advancement. In today’s world with so much more to know and to learn and also the need for a conscious effort to conquer the divisive forces, the importance of reading has increased. In the olden days if reading was not cultivated or encouraged, there was a substitute for it in the religious sermon and in the oral tradition. In the nineteenth century, Victorian households used to get together for an hour or so in the evenings and listen to books being read aloud, But ,today we not only read, we also want to read more and more and catch up with the events taking place around us.

Reading skills are essential to succeed in society. Those who are good readers tend to exhibit progressive social skills. A person who is widely read is able to mix with others. He is a better conversationalist then those who do not read. He can stand his ground. Reading broadens the vision. It is in a way a substitute for travel. It is not possible to travel as much one would like to and reading can fill in the gap created by the lack of travel. Having confidence in reading only comes from the daily practice of reading. A good reader can interact with others in a far better way because reading has widened his vision and point of view. Thus a widely-read man is a better conversationalist and is able to see the other side point of view.

Educational researchers have found that there is a strong correlation between reading and academic success. A student who is a good reader is more likely to do well in school and pass exams than a student who is a weak reader. Good reader can understand the individual sentences and organizational structure of a piece of writing. They can comprehend ideas, follow arguments and detect implications. Good readers can extract from the writing what is important for the particular task they are employed in and they can do it quickly. Educational researchers have also found a strong correlation between reading and vocabulary knowledge. Students who have a large vocabulary are usually good readers. This is very surprising, since the best way to acquire large vocabulary is to read extensively and if you read extensively you’re likely to be or become a good reader.

Books are no doubt very faithful friend of a reader. They never betray but accompany the reader, either sitting alone or traveling. Those who are habitual of reading feel comforted with books. It soothes and relieves tension and loneliness. Medically it also plays a vital role to eradicate depression and unrest. Books are great assassins of boredom. It just kills the boring time.

We are the dwellers of this speedy advancing world. Everything is moving so fast just like a rocket. To keep the pace, we must also need to do things that benefit us. Reading is no doubt a stupendous habit. It can make a stagnant, barren mind rich and cultivatable. It pours rich thoughts in minds. It brings the best out of someone. Reading also helps one to see the present in relation to the past and the future and thus develops a historical perspective. But, care is needed to ensure that reading doesn’t become a substitute for the real life. The moment one ceases to enjoy the ordinary pleasures and happiness of life and is content to enjoy them vicariously through fictional and historical representation, one loses all the benefits of reading and loses contact with life.

As a result of reading books over a period of time, a learning process is formed. There are a great many benefits to be gained from reading books. It is proven that in this technological society the demands for higher levels of literacy are creating unfavorable consequences for those who fall short. This is even more of reason to get into the habit of reading books, but with the cinema and television taking up a great deal of attention of children, teenagers and even adults, the habit of serious reading is dying out. We must never let it die out.

Written By:
A Friend of Mine.

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