September 26, 2022
The essay is an underappreciated form of writing. They’re short enough to be read in one sitting, can range in tone and subject from the ridiculous to the profound, and are a great way to discover new writers or dip into the works of the masters. Here are a few suggestions to get your started on your essay journey!
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
John Green is perhaps best known for writing the blockbuster teen novel The Fault in Our Stars, but his first book of essays has also racked up rave reviews. The Anthropocene Reviewed is a collection of the author’s reviews on everything from keyboards to the Canada Goose, and even the silliest seeming topic could leave you feeling moved.
Serious Face by John Mooallem
I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobsen
Fans of the television comedy series Broad City will recognize Abbi Jacobsen, but readers don’t need to be familiar with the show to appreciate Jacobsen’s memoir-in-essays. The book centers on a soul-searching road trip, and Jacobsen’s voice is genuine, vulnerable, and always funny.
Upstream by Mary Oliver
Fans of naturalist-poet Walt Whitman will enjoy Mary Oliver’s collected essays, which ponder the importance of both nature and literature in the author’s life. Like in her poetry, Oliver’s writing is approachable, deceptively simple, and packed with meaning.
I’d Like to Play Alone, Please by Tom Segura
If you’re looking for a new appreciation of life’s everyday little problems told with a hefty dose of humor, what better source than a stand-up comedian? Tom Segura describes how years of touring, producing weekly podcasts, and parenting young kids left him, well, tired. And the feeling of kinship he felt when his young son delivered the title line: “I’d like to play alone, please.” After years of COVID, quarantines, and restrictions, who can’t relate to that one?
The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson
Readers continue to turn to the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead for its warm, moving story of family and faith. Marilynne Robinson’s essays offer a similar experience, but this time addressing issues of humanity and religion in a more direct, frank way.
Goodbye, Again by Jonny Sun
A Yale graduate with a master’s degree in architecture, Jonny Sun really came into the public eye when he started writing for the hit Netflix show BoJack Horseman and hit it big on Twitter with his concise observations about loneliness and anxiety. That same voice is centered here in essays that range from touching to hilarious.
Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson
Phoebe Robinson’s career took off with her hit podcast (and eventual HBO series) 2 Dope Queens, and she now spends her time as a comedian, actress, and, of course, essayist. This is her second book of essays, which explores current events including COVID, quarantining, racial tensions, mental health, and growing to love her natural hair.
Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light by Helen Ellis
Although Helen Ellis can be described as both a short story writer and an essayist, we think her most appropriate title is humorist. Where else can you find collected essays on Las Vegas poker professionals, back-alley beauty treatments, cutthroat garage sale strategies, and middle-aged ladies battling middle-age?