All Time Best Essays

Today marks the release of Aleksandar Hemon’s excellent book of personal essays, The Book of My Lives, which we loved, and which we’re convinced deserves a place in the literary canon. To that end, we were inspired to put together our list of the greatest essay collections of all time, from the classic to the contemporary, from the personal to the critical. In making our choices, we’ve steered away from posthumous omnibuses (Michel de Montaigne’s Complete Essays, the collected Orwell, etc.) and multi-author compilations, and given what might be undue weight to our favorite writers (as one does). After the jump, our picks for the 25 greatest essay collections of all time. Feel free to disagree with us, praise our intellect, or create an entirely new list in the comments.

The Book of My Lives, Aleksandar Hemon

Hemon’s memoir in essays is in turns wryly hilarious, intellectually searching, and deeply troubling. It’s the life story of a fascinating, quietly brilliant man, and it reads as such. For fans of chess and ill-advised theme parties and growing up more than once.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion

Well, obviously. Didion’s extraordinary book of essays, expertly surveying both her native California in the 1960s and her own internal landscape with clear eyes and one eyebrow raised ever so slightly. This collection, her first, helped establish the idea of journalism as art, and continues to put wind in the sails of many writers after her, hoping to move in that Didion direction.

Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan

This was one of those books that this writer deemed required reading for all immediate family and friends. Sullivan’s sharply observed essays take us from Christian rock festivals to underground caves to his own home, and introduce us to 19-century geniuses, imagined professors and Axl Rose. Smart, curious, and humane, this is everything an essay collection should be.

The Boys of My Youth, Jo Ann Beard

Another memoir-in-essays, or perhaps just a collection of personal narratives, Jo Ann Beard’s award-winning volume is a masterpiece. Not only does it include the luminous, emotionally destructive “The Fourth State of the Matter,” which we’ve already implored you to read, but also the incredible “Bulldozing the Baby,” which takes on a smaller tragedy: a three-year-old Beard’s separation from her doll Hal. “The gorgeous thing about Hal,” she tells us, “was that not only was he my friend, he was also my slave. I made the majority of our decisions, including the bathtub one, which in retrospect was the beginning of the end.”

Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace

This one’s another “duh” moment, at least if you’re a fan of the literary essay. One of the most brilliant essayists of all time, Wallace pushes the boundaries (of the form, of our patience, of his own brain) and comes back with a classic collection of writing on everything from John Updike to, well, lobsters. You’ll laugh out loud right before you rethink your whole life. And then repeat.

Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin

Baldwin’s most influential work is a witty, passionate portrait of black life and social change in America in the 1940s and early 1950s. His essays, like so many of the greats’, are both incisive social critiques and rigorous investigations into the self, told with a perfect tension between humor and righteous fury.

Naked, David Sedaris

His essays often read more like short stories than they do social criticism (though there’s a healthy, if perhaps implied, dose of that slippery subject), but no one makes us laugh harder or longer. A genius of the form.

Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag

This collection, Sontag’s first, is a dazzling feat of intellectualism. Her essays dissect not only art but the way we think about art, imploring us to “reveal the sensuous surface of art without mucking about in it.” It also contains the brilliant “Notes on ‘Camp,'” one of our all-time favorites.

The Common Reader, Virginia Woolf

Woolf is a literary giant for a reason — she was as incisive and brilliant a critic as she was a novelist. These witty essays, written for the common reader (“He is worse educated, and nature has not gifted him so generously. He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others. Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole- a portrait of a man, a sketch of an age, a theory of the art of writing”), are as illuminating and engrossing as they were when they were written.

Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard

This is Dillard’s only book of essays, but boy is it a blazingly good one. The slender volume, filled with examinations of nature both human and not, is deft of thought and tongue, and well worth anyone’s time. As the Chicago Sun-Times‘s Edward Abbey gushed, “This little book is haloed and informed throughout by Dillard’s distinctive passion and intensity, a sort of intellectual radiance that reminds me both Thoreau and Emily Dickinson.”

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man, Henry Louis Gates Jr.

In this eloquent volume of essays, all but one of which were originally published in the New Yorker, Gates argues against the notion of the singularly representable “black man,” preferring to represent him in a myriad of diverse profiles, from James Baldwin to Colin Powell. Humane, incisive, and satisfyingly journalistic, Gates cobbles together the ultimate portrait of the 20th-century African-American male by refusing to cobble it together, and raises important questions about race and identity even as he entertains.

Otherwise Known As the Human Condition, Geoff Dyer

This book of essays, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year of its publication, covers 25 years of the uncategorizable, inimitable Geoff Dyer’s work — casually erudite and yet liable to fascinate anyone wandering in the door, witty and breathing and full of truth. As Sam Lipsyte said, “You read Dyer for his caustic wit, of course, his exquisite and perceptive crankiness, and his deep and exciting intellectual connections, but from these enthralling rants and cultural investigations there finally emerges another Dyer, a generous seeker of human feeling and experience, a man perhaps closer than he thinks to what he believes his hero Camus achieved: ‘a heart free of bitterness.'”

Art and Ardor, Cynthia Ozick

Look, Cynthia Ozick is a genius. One of David Foster Wallace’s favorite writers, and one of ours, Ozick has no less than seven essay collections to her name, and we could have chosen any one of them, each sharper and more perfectly self-conscious than the last. This one, however, includes her stunner “A Drugstore in Winter,” which was chosen by Joyce Carol Oates for The Best American Essays of the Century, so we’ll go with it.

No More Nice Girls, Ellen Willis

The venerable Ellen Willis was the first pop music critic for The New Yorker, and a rollicking anti-authoritarian, feminist, all-around bad-ass woman who had a hell of a way with words. This collection examines the women’s movement, the plight of the aging radical, race relations, cultural politics, drugs, and Picasso. Among other things.

The War Against Cliché, Martin Amis

As you know if you’ve ever heard him talk, Martin Amis is not only a notorious grouch but a sharp critical mind, particularly when it comes to literature. That quality is on full display in this collection, which spans nearly 30 years and twice as many subjects, from Vladimir Nabokov (his hero) to chess to writing about sex. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that he’s a brilliant old grump.

Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and the Arts, Clive James

James’s collection is a strange beast, not like any other essay collection on this list but its own breed. An encyclopedia of modern culture, the book collects 110 new biographical essays, which provide more than enough room for James to flex his formidable intellect and curiosity, as he wanders off on tangents, anecdotes, and cultural criticism. It’s not the only who’s who you need, but it’s a who’s who you need.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, Nora Ephron

Oh Nora, we miss you. Again, we could have picked any of her collections here — candid, hilarious, and willing to give it to you straight, she’s like a best friend and mentor in one, only much more interesting than any of either you’ve ever had.

Arguably, Christopher Hitchens

No matter what you think of his politics (or his rhetorical strategies), there’s no denying that Christopher Hitchens was one of the most brilliant minds — and one of the most brilliant debaters — of the century. In this collection, packed with cultural commentary, literary journalism, and political writing, he is at his liveliest, his funniest, his exactingly wittiest. He’s also just as caustic as ever.

The Solace of Open Spaces, Gretel Ehrlich

Gretel Ehrlich is a poet, and in this collection, you’ll know it. In 1976, she moved to Wyoming and became a cowherd, and nearly a decade later, she published this lovely, funny set of essays about rural life in the American West.”Keenly observed the world is transformed,” she writes. “The landscape is engorged with detail, every movement on it chillingly sharp. The air between people is charged. Days unfold, bathed in their own music. Nights become hallucinatory; dreams, prescient.”

The Braindead Megaphone, George Saunders

Saunders may be the man of the moment, but he’s been at work for a long while, and not only on his celebrated short stories. His single collection of essays applies the same humor and deliciously slant view to the real world — which manages to display nearly as much absurdity as one of his trademark stories.

Against Joie de Vivre, Phillip Lopate

“Over the years,” the title essay begins, “I have developed a distaste for the spectacle of joie de vivre, the knack of knowing how to live.” Lopate goes on to dissect, in pleasantly sardonic terms, the modern dinner party. Smart and thought-provoking throughout (and not as crotchety as all that), this collection is conversational but weighty, something to be discussed at length with friends at your next — oh well, you know.

Sex and the River Styx, Edward Hoagland

Edward Hoagland, who John Updike deemed “the best essayist of my generation,” has a long and storied career and a fat bibliography, so we hesitate to choose such a recent installment in the writer’s canon. Then again, Garrison Keillor thinks it’s his best yet, so perhaps we’re not far off. Hoagland is a great nature writer (name checked by many as the modern Thoreau) but in truth, he’s just as fascinated by humanity, musing that “human nature is interstitial with nature, and not to be shunned by a naturalist.” Elegant and thoughtful, Hoagland may warn us that he’s heading towards the River Styx, but we’ll hang on to him a while longer.

Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith

Smith may be best known for her novels (and she should be), but to our eyes she is also emerging as an excellent essayist in her own right, passionate and thoughtful. Plus, any essay collection that talks about Barack Obama via Pygmalion is a winner in our book.

My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum

Like so many other writers on this list, Daum dives head first into the culture and comes up with meat in her mouth. Her voice is fresh and her narratives daring, honest and endlessly entertaining.

The White Album, Joan Didion

Yes, Joan Didion is on this list twice, because Joan Didion is the master of the modern essay, tearing at our assumptions and building our world in brisk, clever strokes. Deal.

Aleksandar Hemon    Annie Dillard    Christopher Hitchens    Clive James    Cynthia Ozick    David Foster Wallace    David Sedaris    Edward Hoagland    Ellen Willis    Geoff Dyer    George Saunders    Gretel Ehrlich    Henry Louis Gates Jr.    James Baldwin    Jo Ann Beard    Joan Didion    John Jeremiah Sullivan    Martin Amis    Meghan Daum    Nora Ephron    Phillip Lopate    Susan Sontag    Virginia Woolf    Zadie Smith

“What are the best Essay Collections of all-time?” We looked at 681 of the top Essay Collections, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

With nearly enough books to read one a day for two years, there is bound to be something here to pique your interest! The top 25 essay collects, all appearing on 3 or more of the lists we aggregated from, appear below with images, links, and descriptions. The remaining 600 plus titles, as well as the articles we used, are alphabetically listed at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 25 Essay Collections



25 .) Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire 2

“In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.”

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24 .) A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

Lists It Appears On:

  • Wikipedia
  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot

In this exuberantly praised book – a collection of seven pieces on subjects ranging from television to tennis, from the Illinois State Fair to the films of David Lynch, from postmodern literary theory to the supposed fun of traveling aboard a Caribbean luxury cruiseliner

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23 .) Arguably by Christopher Hitchens

Lists It Appears On:

  • Wikipedia
  • Flavorwire 2
  • Library Thing

“Here, he supplies fresh perceptions of such figures as varied as Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Rebecca West, George Orwell, J.G. Ballard, and Philip Larkin are matched in brilliance by his pungent discussions and intrepid observations, gathered from a lifetime of traveling and reporting from such destinations as Iran, China, and Pakistan.

Hitchens’s directness, elegance, lightly carried erudition, critical and psychological insight, humor, and sympathy-applied as they are here to a dazzling variety of subjects-all set a standard for the essayist that has rarely been matched in our time. What emerges from this indispensable volume is an intellectual self-portrait of a writer with an exemplary steadiness of purpose and a love affair with the delights and seductions of the English language, a man anchored in a profound and humane vision of the human longing for reason and justice. “

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22 .) Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Lists It Appears On:

  • The Daily Beast
  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot

“Anne Fadiman is–by her own admission–the sort of person who learned about sex from her father’s copy of Fanny Hill, whose husband buys her 19 pounds of dusty books for her birthday, and who once found herself poring over her roommate’s 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only written material in the apartment that she had not read at least twice.

This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story. Writing with remarkable grace, she revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. As someone who played at blocks with her father’s 22-volume set of Trollope (“”My Ancestral Castles””) and who only really considered herself married when she and her husband had merged collections (“”Marrying Libraries””), she is exquisitely well equipped to expand upon the art of inscriptions, the perverse pleasures of compulsive proof-reading, the allure of long words, and the satisfactions of reading out loud. There is even a foray into pure literary gluttony–Charles Lamb liked buttered muffin crumbs between the leaves, and Fadiman knows of more than one reader who literally consumes page corners. Perfectly balanced between humor and erudition, Ex Libris establishes Fadiman as one of our finest contemporary essayists.”

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21 .) I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

Lists It Appears On:

  • Library Thing
  • Book Riot
  • Goodreads

“With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself.

Ephron chronicles her life as an obsessed cook, passionate city dweller, and hapless parent. But mostly she speaks frankly and uproariously about life as a woman of a certain age. Utterly courageous, uproariously funny, and unexpectedly moving in its truth telling, I Feel Bad About My Neck is a scrumptious, irresistible treat of a book, full of truths, laugh out loud moments that will appeal to readers of all ages.”

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20 .) I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flavorwire 2
  • Better World Books
  • Vox Magazine

“Nora Ephron returns with her first book since the astounding success of I Feel Bad About My Neck, taking a hilarious look at the past, the present, and the future, bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life, and recalling with her signature clarity and wisdom everything she hasn’t (yet) forgotten.

Filled with insights and observations that instantly ring true—and could have come only from Nora Ephron—I Remember Nothing is pure joy.”

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19 .) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Wikipedia
  • Goodreads

A recent transplant to Paris, humorist David Sedaris, bestselling author of “Naked”, presents a collection of his strongest work yet, including the title story about his hilarious attempt to learn French. A number one national bestseller now in paperback.

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18 .) Naked by David Sedaris

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Goodreads
  • Flavorwire 2

Welcome to the hilarious, strange, elegiac, outrageous world of David Sedaris. In Naked, Sedaris turns the mania for memoir on its ear, mining the exceedingly rich terrain of his life, his family, and his unique worldview-a sensibility at once take-no-prisoners sharp and deeply charitable. A tart-tongued mother does dead-on imitations of her young son’s nervous tics, to the great amusement of his teachers; a stint of Kerouackian wandering is undertaken (of course!) with a quadriplegic companion; a family gathers for a wedding in the face of imminent death. Through it all is Sedaris’s unmistakable voice, without doubt one of the freshest in American writing.

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17 .) Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss

Lists It Appears On:

  • Better World Books
  • Wikipedia
  • Goodreads

“Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays begins with a series of lynchings and ends with a series of apologies. Eula Biss explores race in America and her response to the topic is informed by the experiences chronicled in these essays — teaching in a Harlem school on the morning of 9/11, reporting for an African American newspaper in San Diego, watching the aftermath of Katrina from a college town in Iowa, and settling in Chicago’s most diverse neighborhood.

As Biss moves across the country from New York to California to the Midwest, her essays move across time from biblical Babylon to the freedman’s schools of Reconstruction to a Jim Crow mining town to post-war white flight. She brings an eclectic education to the page, drawing variously on the Eagles, Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Baldwin, Alexander Graham Bell, Joan Didion, religious pamphlets, and reality television shows.”

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16 .) Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Book Riot
  • Flashlight Worthy

Presenting the essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, SISTER OUTSIDER celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature. In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope. This commemorative edition includes a new foreword by Lorde scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke, who celebrates the ways in which Lorde’s philosophies resonate more than twenty years after they were first published.

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15 .) The Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Library Thing

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14 .) The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Wikipedia

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism.

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13 .) The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Lists It Appears On:

“The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays by double Hugo Award-winning essayist and fantasy novelist Kameron Hurley.

The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “”We Have Always Fought,”” which won the 2013 Hugo for Best Related Work. The Geek Feminist Revolution will also feature several entirely new essays written specifically for this volume.”

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12 .) The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Vox Magazine
  • Book Riot
  • Goodreads

“Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at The New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

Marina left behind a rich, deeply expansive trove of writing that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. Her short story “Cold Pastoral” was published on NewYorker.com. Her essay “Even Artichokes Have Doubts” was excerpted in the Financial Times, and her book was the focus of a Nicholas Kristof column in The New York Times. Millions of her contemporaries have responded to her work on social media.

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11 .) A Collection of Essays by George Orwell

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Library Thing
  • Wikipedia
  • Book Riot

One of the most thought-provoking and vivid essayists of the twentieth century, George Orwell fought the injustices of his time with singular vigor through pen and paper. In this selection of essays, he ranges from reflections on his boyhood schooling and the profession of writing to his views on the Spanish Civil War and British imperialism. The pieces collected here include the relatively unfamiliar and the more celebrated, making it an ideal compilation for both new and dedicated readers of Orwell’s work.

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10 .) Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flavorwire 2
  • Goodreads
  • Vox Magazine
  • Wikipedia

Against Interpretation was Susan Sontag’s first collection of essays and is a modern classic. Originally published in 1966, it has never gone out of print and has influenced generations of readers all over the world. It includes the famous essays “Notes on Camp” and “Against Interpretation,” as well as her impassioned discussions of Sartre, Camus, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, Levi-Strauss, sceince-fiction movies, psychoanalysis, and contemporary religious thought.

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9 .) Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith

Lists It Appears On:

  • Better World Books
  • Goodreads
  • The Daily Beast
  • Wikipedia

Split into five sections–Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering–Changing My Mind finds Zadie Smith casting an acute eye over material both personal and cultural. This engaging collection of essays, some published here for the first time, reveals Smith as a passionate and precise essayist, equally at home in the world of great books and bad movies, family and philosophy, British comedians and Italian divas. Whether writing on Katherine Hepburn, Kafka, Anna Magnani, or Zora Neale Hurston, she brings deft care to the art of criticism with a style both sympathetic and insightful. Changing My Mind is journalism at its most expansive, intelligent, and funny–a gift to readers and writers both.

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8 .) Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire 2
  • The Telegraph

“In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us―with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that’s all his own―how we really (no, really) live now.

In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTV’s Real World, who’ve generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina―and back again as its residents confront the BP oil spill.”

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7 .) The Common Reader by Virginia Woolf

Lists It Appears On:

  • Five Books
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire 2
  • Better World Books

Woolf’s first and most popular volume of essays. This collection has more than twenty-five selections, including such important statements as “Modern Fiction” and “The Modern Essay.”

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6 .) I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

Lists It Appears On:

  • Vox Magazine
  • Wikipedia
  • Book Browse
  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot

From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions — or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character who aims for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is. I Was Told There’d Be Cake introduces a strikingly original voice, chronicling the struggles and unexpected beauty of modern urban life.

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5 .) Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

Lists It Appears On:

  • Buzzfeed
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire 2
  • Library Thing
  • Better World Books

“In an age of Black Lives Matter, James Baldwin’s essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. With documentaries like I Am Not Your Negro bringing renewed interest to Baldwin’s life and work, Notes of a Native Son serves as a valuable introduction.

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in “The Harlem Ghetto” to a sobering “Journey to Atlanta.” “

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4 .) The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

Lists It Appears On:

  • Wikipedia
  • Buzzfeed
  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire 2

George Saunders’s first foray into nonfiction is comprised of essays on literature, travel, and politics. At the core of this unique collection are Saunders’s travel essays based on his trips to seek out the mysteries of the “Buddha Boy” of Nepal; to attempt to indulge in the extravagant pleasures of Dubai; and to join the exploits of the minutemen at the Mexican border. Saunders expertly navigates the works of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Esther Forbes, and leads the reader across the rocky political landscape of modern America. Emblazoned with his trademark wit and singular vision, Saunders’s endeavor into the art of the essay is testament to his exceptional range and ability as a writer and thinker.

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3 .) The White Album by Joan Didion

Lists It Appears On:

  • Publishers Weekly
  • Buzzfeed
  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire 2

First published in 1979, The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era―including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall―through the lens of her own spiritual confusion, Joan Didion helped to define mass culture as we now understand it. Written with a commanding sureness of tone and linguistic precision, The White Album is a central text of American reportage and a classic of American autobiography.

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2 .) Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace

Lists It Appears On:

  • Wikipedia
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire
  • Flavorwire 2
  • Tin House
  • Goodreads

Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike’s deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker at the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.

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1 .) Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flavorwire
  • The Daily Beast
  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Flavorwire 2
  • Better World Books

The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, decades after its first publication, the essential portrait of America―particularly California―in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.

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The Additional Best Essay Collection Books



 

#BookAuthorLists
(Book Appears On 2 Lists Each)
26A Field Guide to Getting LostRebecca SolnitGoodreads
Book Riot
27Art and ArdorCynthia OzickBook Riot
Flavorwire 2
28BossypantsTina FeyGoodreads
Better World Books
29Both Flesh and NotDavid Foster WallaceWikipedia
Goodreads
30Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and the ArtsClive JamesWikipedia
Flavorwire 2
31Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, PlacesUrsula K. Le GuinWikipedia
Library Thing
32Dress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDavid SedarisThe Daily Beast
Goodreads
33Forty-One False StartsJanet MalcolmSalon
Book Riot
34Housekeeping vs. the DirtNick HornbyWikipedia
Goodreads
35How to Be AloneJonathan FranzenGoodreads
Wikipedia
36Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?Mindy KalingGoodreads
Book Riot
37LabyrinthsJorge Luis BorgesWikipedia
Book Riot
38Let’s Explore Diabetes with OwlsDavid SedarisGoodreads
Salon
39Madness, Rack, and HoneyMary RuefleBook Riot
Goodreads
40Meditations From A Movable ChairAndre DubusBook Browse
Book Riot
41My Misspent YouthMeghan DaumFlavorwire 2
Goodreads
42Not That Kind of GirlLena DunhamBook Riot
Goodreads
43On Lies, Secrets, and SilenceAdrienne RichBook Riot
Flashlight Worthy
44Otherwise Known as the Human ConditionGeoff DyerBook Riot
Flavorwire 2
45Paris to the MoonAdam GopnikWikipedia
Book Riot
46Self-RelianceRalph Waldo EmersonBuzzfeed
Book Riot
47Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture ManifestoChuck KlostermanWikipedia
Goodreads
48Shadow and ActRalph EllisonWikipedia
Book Riot
49Small WonderBarbara KingsolverBook Browse
Library Thing
50State by StateSean Wilsey, Matt WeilandBook Browse
Wikipedia
51The Boys of My YouthJo Ann BeardBook Riot
Flavorwire 2
52The Crack-upF. Scott FitzgeraldWikipedia
Book Riot
53The Death of the MothVirginia WoolfBuzzfeed
Verso
54The Empathy ExamsLeslie JamesonBook Riot
Goodreads
55The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science FictionUrsula K. Le GuinWikipedia
Library Thing
56The Myth of Sisyphus and Other EssaysAlbert CamusGoodreads
Library Thing
57The Souls of Black FolkW. E. B. Du BoisWikipedia
Book Riot
58The UnspeakableMeghan DaumBook Riot
Goodreads
59The Wave in the MindUrsula K. Le GuinBook Riot
Tor
60Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black ManHenry Louis GatesBook Riot
Flavorwire 2
61This Angel on My ChestLeslie PietrzykBook Browse
Book Browse
62This Is the Story of a Happy MarriageAnn PratchettThe Missouri Review
Book Riot
63Tiny Beautiful ThingsCheryl StrayedBook Riot
Goodreads
64Under the Sign of Saturn: EssaysSusan SontagWikipedia
Verso
65We Should All Be FeministsChimamanda Ngozi AdichieGoodreads
Book Riot
66When I Was a Child I Read BooksMarilynne RobinsonThe Missouri Review
Book Riot
(Books Appear On 1 List Each)
67(Not That You Asked) Rants, Exploits and ObsessionsWikipedia
68100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to WriteSarah RuhlBook Riot
69A Better Angel : StoriesChris AdrianBook Browse
70A Better Hope: Resources for a Church Confronting Capitalism, Democracy, and PostmodernityStanley HauerwasLibrary Thing
71A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You : StoriesAmy BloomBook Browse
72A Book of PrefacesWikipedia
73A Brief History of The FloodJean HarfenistBook Browse
74A Causa das CoisasWikipedia
75A Certain WorldWikipedia
76A Devil’s ChaplainWikipedia
77A Few Words About BreastsNora EphronBuzzfeed
78A Man Without a CountryWikipedia
79A Massive SwellingWikipedia
80A Modern Proposal and Other WritingsJonathan SwiftBetter World Books
81A Moving TargetWikipedia
82A New Literary History of AmericaWikipedia
83A Night Without ArmorJewel KilcherBook Browse
84A Perfect Stranger : And other storiesRoxana RobinsonBook Browse
85A Place in the CountryWikipedia
86A Place to LiveNatalia GinzburgBook Riot
87A Place to Read: Life and BooksMichael CohenThe Missouri Review
88A Power Governments Cannot SuppressHoward ZinnLibrary Thing
89A Restricted CountryJoan NestleFlashlight Worthy
90A Reverie for Mister RayWikipedia
91A Room of One’s OwnVirginia WoolfGoodreads
92A Sad Heart At The SupermarketRandall JarrellFive Books
93A User’s Guide to the MillenniumWikipedia
94A Voice from the AtticWikipedia
95A Yankee in Canada, with Anti-Slavery and Reform PapersWikipedia
96A Year from MondayWikipedia
97A’ Cleachdadh na GàidhligWikipedia
98Acquainted with the Night (book)Wikipedia
99Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy CultureYtasha L. WomackTor
100Against Joie de VivrePhillip LopateFlavorwire 2
101Against the Current: Essays in the History of IdeasWikipedia
102Agamemnon’s Daughter : A Novella and StoriesIsmail KadareBook Browse
103Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science FictionDavid G. HartwellTor
104Alibis: Essays on ElsewhereAndré AcimanBook Riot
105All Aunt Hagar’s Children : StoriesEdward P. JonesBook Browse
106All I Really Need to Know I Learned in KindergartenWikipedia
107Alone With You : StoriesMarisa SilverBook Browse
108Alpha and Omega (Harrison)Wikipedia
109Alphabet of the ImaginationWikipedia
110Always Happy Hour : StoriesMary MillerBook Browse
111America and AmericansWikipedia
112American RomancesRebecca BrownBook Riot
113An Anthropologist on MarsWikipedia
114An Unfinished JourneyWikipedia
115An Unrestored WomanShobha RaoBook Browse
116An Urchin in the StormWikipedia
117Ancestor Stones : A NovelAminatta FornaBook Browse
118And Even NowMax BeerbohmFive Books
119And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A LifeCharles J. ShieldsTor
120Anglo-English AttitudesGeoff DyerThe Telegraph
121Annie Dillard,Total EclipsePublishers Weekly
122Any Small Thing Can Save You : A BestiaryChristina AdamBook Browse
123Apparition & Late Fictions : A Novella and StoriesThomas LynchBook Browse
124Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, ChelseaWikipedia
125Aspects of Scientific Explanation and other Essays in the Philosophy of ScienceWikipedia
126Bagombo Snuff Box : Uncollected Short FictionKurt VonnegutBook Browse
127Barbara the Slut and Other PeopleLauren HolmesBook Browse
128Bark : StoriesLorrie MooreBook Browse
129Barrel FeverWikipedia
130Battleborn : StoriesClaire Vaye WatkinsBook Browse
131Before the Mortgage: Real Stories of Brazen Loves, Broken Leases, and the Perplexing Pursuit of AdulthoodChristina AminiLibrary Thing
132Beirut 39 : New Writing from the Arab WorldSamuel ShimonBook Browse
133Beowulf : A New Verse TranslationSeamus HeaneyBook Browse
134Best Essays NorthwestWikipedia
135Best European Fiction 2010Aleksandar HemonBook Browse
136Betrayal of the LeftWikipedia
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