Excellent essays

In Book Bingo, one of our squares is a “Book of Essays.”
Lark mentioned that this category might be a challenging one, so I thought I’d throw together a list of sure-bet books of essays.
Here goes…
First, here are the essays by journalists:
The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People by Susan Orlean
Another master writer of the biographical profile
Any essay collection by Anna Quindlen. Try:
  • Thinking Out Loud: On the Personal, the Political, the Public and the Private
  • Living Out Loud
  • Loud and Clear
Essays on modern women’s lives… and much more
Next, the essays by authors:
Thurber Country: A Collection of Pieces About Males and Females, Mainly of Our Own Species by James Thurber
Dude was a master of satire
Any essay collection by Anne Lamott. Try:
  • Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
  • Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
An irreverent but hopeful look at faith, by a lovely writer
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Essays as memoir, by the great novelist
Slouching Towards Gomorrah by Joan Didion
Essays on America in the 1960s
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
A collection by the essayist who died days after her graduation from Yale
Any essay collection by Meghan Daum. Try:
  • My Misspent Youth
  • The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

A stunningly sharp Gen X essayist

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
Another excellent Gen X essayist; she’s also a history nerd, so it’s all good
Any essay collection by Nora Ephron. Try:
  • Crazy Salad   
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
  • I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections
  • Wallflower at the Orgy
  • The Most of Nora Ephron
The smartest, funniest essays I’ve ever read about being a woman
Finally, the comedians:
If you have a favorite comedian, check to see if s/he has written a book. If so, probably it’s essays. Here are some other suggestions:
An essay collection by Jim Gaffigan. Try:
  • Food: A Love Story
  • Dad Is Fat
Perfectly hilarious observations about food and family life
From the brain that created 30 Rock
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
From the brain that created Parks and Recreation
Any essay collection by David Sedaris. Try:
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls
  • Holidays on Ice
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day
  • Naked
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
The witty observer of the absurd
While I’m skittish about short stories, I adore (adore!) essays. I think it’s because short stories end too quickly, and I want more time with the characters. But with essays, it’s usually just the perfect amount of time to spend with that idea. Then it’s on to something new and equally fascinating and delightful.
And essays allow the voice of the author to shine through, and when the author has a distinct voice, that’s a gorgeous thing.

4 thoughts on “Excellent essays

  1. I guess I have no excuses now not to find a book of essays for this bingo category. 🙂 I appreciate the list of possible reads; I've scribbled down several titles already. Oh…and I'll be doing a post about your awesome bingo card next week. Hope you don't mind.

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