What does it mean to be a writer, anyway? This essay is an attempt to answer these questions, but its contents are not only meant for scribblers. Virginia Woolf — Death of the Moth. In the midst of an ordinary day, sitting in a room of her own, Virginia Woolf tells about the epic struggle for survival, and the evanescence of life. This short essay is a truly powerful one. At the beginning, the atmosphere is happy. The life is in full force.
And then, suddenly, it starts to fade away. Meghan Daum — My Misspent Youth. Many of us, at some point or another, dream about living in New York. Word on the street is: Probably the greatest film critic of all time, Roger Ebert, tells us not to rage against the dying of the light.
This essay is full of courage, erudition, and humanism. George Orwell — Shooting an Elephant. Orwell, apparently a free representative of the British rule, feels to be nothing more than a puppet succumbing to the whim of the mob. George Orwell — A Hanging. The most horrible thing is the normality of it. Christopher Hitchens — Assassins of The Mind. In one of the greatest essays written in defense of free speech, Christopher Hitchens shares many examples on how modern media kneel to the explicit threats of violence posed by Islamic extremists.
He recounts the story of his friend, Salman Rushdie, author of Satanic Verses who, for many years had to watch over his shoulder because of fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini.
With his usual wit, Hitchens shares various examples of people who died because of their opinions and of editors who refuse to publish anything related to Islam because of fear and it was written long before the Charlie Hebdo massacre. After reading the essay, you will realize that freedom of expression is one of the most precious things we have, and that we have to fight for it.
Christopher Hitchens — The New Commandments. Watch, as Christopher Hitchens slays one commandment after the other on moral, as well as historical grounds.
For example, did you know that there are actually many versions of the divine law dictated by God to Moses which you can find in the Bible? If you approach it with open mind, this essay may change the way you think about the Bible and religion in general. Phillip Lopate — Against Joie de Vivre. If you want to remain happy, just remain stupid. Personally, I can bear the onus of happiness or joie de vivre for some time. Philip Larkin — The Pleasure Principle.
This piece comes from the Required Writing collection of essays. Well worth a read. How the peaceful, European countries could engage in a war that would eventually cost more than 17 million lives? What stirs people to kill each other? Is it their nature, or are they puppets of imperial forces with agendas of their own? Zadie Smith — Some Notes on Attunement. This one is about the elusiveness of change occurring within you. For Zadie, it was hard to attune to the vibes of Joni Mitchell — especially her Blue album.
But eventually, she grew up to appreciate her genius, and all the other things changed as well. This essay is all about the relationship between human, and art.
We should like it because it has an instantaneous, emotional effect on us. Annie Dillard — Total Eclipse.
My imagination was always stirred by the scene of the solar eclipse in Pharaoh, by Boleslaw Prus. I wondered about the shock of the disoriented crowd when they saw how their ruler was apparently able to switch off the light. Getting immersed in this essay by Annie Dillard has a similar effect.
It produces amazement and some kind of primeval fear. After the eclipse, nothing is going to be the same again. This suicidally beautiful essay will teach you a lot about the appreciation of life. She was American, but her culture was grounded in Mexico.
In this way, she and her people were not fully respected in either of the countries. This essay is an account of her journey of becoming the ambassador of the Chicano Mexican-American culture. In terms of style, this essay is flawless. Mary Ruefle — On Fear. Most psychologists and gurus agree that fear is the greatest enemy of success or any creative activity.
Mary Ruefle takes on this basic human emotion with flair. Susan Sontag — Against Interpretation. In this highly intellectual essay, Sontag fights for art and its interpretation.
I always hated when at school they asked me: Hell if I know! I will judge it through my subjective experience! This is a heartwarming, coming of age story about a young girl who waits for her breasts to finally grow.
As it happens, the size of breasts is a big deal for women. Carl Sagan was one of the greatest proponents of skepticism, and an author of numerous books, including one of my all-time favorites — The Demon-Haunted World. He was also a renowned physicist and the host of the fantastic Cosmos: A Personal Voyage series, which inspired a whole generation to uncover the mysteries of the cosmos.
He was also a dedicated weed smoker — clearly ahead of his time. Internet is flooded with a large number of articles and videos that are supposed to tell you what to do with our lives. Most of them are worthless, but this one is different. Please, read the essay and let it help you gain fulfillment from your work.
John Jeremiah Sullivan — Mister Lytle. A young, aspiring writer is about to become a nurse of a fading writer — Mister Lytle Andrew Nelson Lytle , and there will be trouble. This essay by Sullivan is probably my favorite one from the whole list. Robert Atwan, the founder of The Best American Essays series, picks the 10 best essays of the postwar period. Links to the essays are provided when available. So to make my list of the top ten essays since less impossible, I decided to exclude all the great examples of New Journalism--Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr, and many others can be reserved for another list.
I also decided to include only American writers, so such outstanding English-language essayists as Chris Arthur and Tim Robinson are missing, though they have appeared in The Best American Essays series. And I selected essays , not essayists. A list of the top ten essayists since would feature some different writers.
And the best essays show that the name of the genre is also a verb, so they demonstrate a mind in process--reflecting, trying-out, essaying. Against a violent historical background, Baldwin recalls his deeply troubled relationship with his father and explores his growing awareness of himself as a black American. However you view the racial politics, the prose is undeniably hypnotic, beautifully modulated and yet full of urgency.
An essay that packed an enormous wallop at the time may make some of us cringe today with its hyperbolic dialectics and hyperventilated metaphysics.
Odd, how terms can bounce back into life with an entirely different set of connotations. What might Mailer call the new hipsters? Read the essay here. I was familiar with it as an undergraduate, hearing it used often by a set of friends, department store window decorators in Manhattan. In my eyes, no writer can ever reach the same status as Tolkien.
Shakespeare wrote about violence, tragedy, rape, death and pedophilia Juliet was 13 , while Tolkien's books are filled with love, friendship, loyalty, victory over evil, trust and goodness. Genius of the triple meaning. Oh Dio non posso credere ai miei occhi. Simone De Beauvoir wrote novels, essays, biographies, autobiography and monographs on philosophy, politics and social issues. She was known for her treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism; and for her novels, including She Came to Stay and The Mandarins.
She was also known for her lifelong open relationship with the famous French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. But furthermore, his poems are maybe the best in the French litterature.
Every sentence is just so well thought-out and beautifully composed. His writing is dense but in a rich, chocolatey way. His Don Quixote makes you laugh and makes you cry at the same time.
It examines the human condition cognitively and affectively with greater insight and universality than any other work by any other author. In fact, this meta-story examines "the author's psyche" any author's itself as a key construct in story development!
Because of these qualities and much more, many great writers agree with the proposition that Don Quixote is the most universal and greatest novel on the human condition ever written. As such, it belongs in the pantheon of the greatest intellectual and spiritual achievements of man, along with the Mass in B minor by Bach, Michaelangelo's Sixtine Chapel ceiling, and Newton's Principia.
I dare say that, in a just and enlightened world, Cervantes would be first in this list. His works are dramatic yet the characters are relatable, despite how old they are [much like Shakespeare's English, Goethe's German is pretty out-dated]. It never is hard to read them, they are full of wonderful poetry. And I am not a sucker for old stuff, but I treasure pure heartfelt poetry. Do my eyes deceive me? Seuss seriously missing from this list? Ok, his books might not seem like they're worth much when compared to Shakespeare, Asimov, Rowling and the other entries on this list, but he taught multiple generations about serious subjects in a fun and silly way.
When the Lorax was published, not that many people knew that cutting down trees and building factories was killing the environment. But, when he wrote the book, he specifically geared it towards children. He taught the people who would run the world someday. I'd like to think that many trees have been saved thanks to this man.
In addition, while some books may eventually be forgotten, Dr.
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.
Some of the most famous literary works are essays, written by great authors and writers. Essays span a variety of genres, including comedy, non-fiction, history, and current events. Essays span a variety of genres, including comedy, non-fiction, history, and .
Note: there are many, many, many great essays on writing. Bias has been extended here to personal favorites and those available to read online. Bias has been extended here to personal favorites and those available to read online. No matter what type of writing you like to read, you can't go wrong with a book by one of these best writers of all time. This list features the best writers ever, including, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Geoffrey Chaucer, Homer, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Herman Melleville, William Faulkner, and Edgar Allan Poe. Vote up .
Great Articles and Essays to Read Online - The Net's Best Nonfiction Must-read articles and essays by famous writers - the best examples of short articles and essays to read online - all-time great longform articles. Check the list, and you'll find online essays from the greatest authors of all time. This essay is all about writing better, so go to the source if you want the goodies. It’s almost like wandering around and peeking into the minds of the greatest writers and thinkers that ever lived. To make this list more comprehensive, below I.