Essays are usually associated with boring assignments teachers give just to annoy you. Usually lengthy with plenty of long words and difficult language, essays are probably not what you consider when looking for your next read.
But I argue that essays are perfect reading material, especially if you love a variety of genres, because they’re basically mini books within a book. Romance? Yep. Science fiction? You betcha. Thrillers that leave you on the edge of your seat? Of course. And sometimes, all these can be found in one brilliant book that gives you plenty of excitement for whatever mood you’re in.
Romance? Yep. Science fiction? You betcha. Thrillers that leave you on the edge of your seat? Of course. And sometimes, all these can be found in one brilliant book that gives you plenty of excitement for whatever mood you’re in.
The following are my favorite collections from authors ranging in experience and expertise. The next time you’re looking for a good book, look no further than a collection of essays.
“The Empathy Exams” by Leslie Jamison
Jamison’s collection mainly focuses on human empathy and the different ways in which it can be expressed. Jamison uses her own experiences to explain this concept.
She describes danger tourism in gang-filled cities and mines that affect the lives of full communities. She uses her knowledge in the medical industry to explain female pain. When some people push their bodies past what’s natural, she breaks down our relationship with ourselves.
Without getting too heavy or intellectual, Jamison concisely explains her feelings and the feelings of others with vivid imagery and multiple perspectives.
“And Yet …” by Christopher Hitchens
After an illustrious career in journalism, Hitchens combines his published work into one book giving readers a well-researched and interesting variety of thoughts.
Hitchens has been praised for his sharp wit and criticism of dominant society. Spanning years and events, Hitchens provides unique perspectives on historical, political and wholly modern issues. Unfortunately, Hitchens died in 2011, so his essays lack a conversation on events facing the country today. But his perspectives on past events that are irrevocably linked to today let readers reconsider the modern world.
“Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay
Witty, funny and insightful, Gay’s work reflects her experience as a woman in today’s culture. Gay uses popular culture references (including “The Help” and “Girls”) to discuss what it means to be a woman and how society interprets that aspect of her personality.
Gay is not just a writer for women, however. Her insight into the world we live in gives all readers a chance to reflect on their own perceptions of society, culture and identity, as well as giving insight into another’s perspective of the same concepts.
“The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan
Featuring essays in both nonfiction and fiction, Keegan’s writing is something we, as college students, can relate to. Keegan wrote her works during her time as a student, making her work more relatable than some other collections.
Within fiction, Keegan writes about the effect growing up has on our perceptions of family, how love can change and explores relationships in high-stress situations. In nonfiction, Keegan discusses her relationship with her car, a personal interview with an exterminator and how comparison puts passion in context.
This collection is especially poignant for college students. Keegan’s work reflects relevant thoughts college students have without judgment.