Recommended reading for the Essay Challenge – and “Why read essays?”


I hope that all of you who are participating in the 2012 Essay Challenge have had a good start to your 2012. If you’re still considering the challenge, it’s not too late to sign up – just click on over and add your blog to the Mr. Linky.

I know that a lot of people wonder why anyone would read essays for fun. I’ve heard comments like, “Aren’t those the horrible things we were forced to write in school?” But essays can be so much more than three points and a conclusion. I read essays to learn, to laugh, to understand, to be convinced, to live vicariously through the author, to explore other people’s points of view.

Personally, I love travel essays, essays about literature, personal essays, essays about history – and so much more. If you’re not sure exactly what I’m talking about, I hope you’ll peruse some of my reviews and reviews from last year’s participants that I’m linking to in this post – they’ll give you a good idea of the variety of essay collections available. The lowest commitment level for the challenge is only 10 essays – that’s less than one per month. I challenge you to give it a try!

~ The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ The Conscious Reader, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ “The Death of the Author” by Roland Barthes, reviewed at C’est la vie!

~ Far and Away: A Prize Every Time by Neil Peart, reviewed at The Written World

~ The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorie Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ “Growing Pains” by Michael Thomas Ford, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ “Helping Students Understand Assessment” by Jan Chappuis, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ “Life Without Go-Go Boots” by Barbara Kingsolver, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood, reviewed at C’est la vie!

~ “Notable Quotables” by Louis Menand, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ “Scenarios on the Use of Formative Classroom Assessments” by Cassandra Erkens, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ “Solipsism” by Ander Monson, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie, & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood by Jane Yolen, reviewed at Books and Movies

~ “What It Means to Be an American” by Qiong Li and Marilynn B. Brewer (and six other essays), reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ “What Makes Superman So Darned American” by Gary Engle, reviewed at The Conscientious Reader

~ “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision” by Adrienne Rich, reviewed at C’est la vie!

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10 Responses to Recommended reading for the Essay Challenge – and “Why read essays?”

  1. Kailana says:

    I am going to TRY and read an essay collection a month. We will see how that goes… I am reading David Sedaris and then we are reading the Atwood in February, so that is a start. :) I browsed the library the other day for some interesting titles and some of these sound good. I also want to read more Sedaris. I need to see if my library has Wendell Berry after all your mentions.
    Kailana´s last post ..MWF seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

    • ChrisCross53 says:

      What about George Orwell? I’ve never been able to get along with his novels, but his essays are interesting, thought provoking, and incredibly well written – many years ago Penguin published the collections Inside the Whale and Decline of the English Murder, but I think more recent compilations of his work are now available.
      And you could go further back in time and read some of Charles Lamb’s essays: he wrote a very funny account of how roast pork came to be ‘discovered’.
      Perhaps I should join in …
      ChrisCross53´s last post ..Dickens and Daughter

      • CarrieK
        Twitter: booksandmovies
        says:

        ChrisCross – I’d love it if you joined us! And I have been wanting to read Charles Lamb for ages now – hope to find a copy this year.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kelly – I got my copy of In Other Worlds and I am so excited to read it next month!

  2. ChrisCross53 says:

    There, I’ve joined! I wasn’t going to join any more book challenges, but I’ll give it a whirl. Carrie, I’m sure you would enjoy Charles Lamb – some of his work is available to download free from Project Gutenberg.
    ChrisCross53´s last post ..An Enjoyable Page Turner is Tremendous Fun

  3. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – January 15, 2012 | BOOKS AND MOVIES

  4. Nan says:

    I’ve just joined, and I have a houseful of essays. I don’t think I’ll read a book at a time, though I might. I think I’d rather go from book to book reading what catches my fancy. We’ll see.
    Nan´s last post ..Essay Reading Challenge – 2012

  5. Pingback: Announcing the 2013 Essay Challenge | BOOKS AND MOVIES

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