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.
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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. Gloria E. 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.
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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. 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. The Internet is flooded with a large number of articles and videos that are supposed to tell you what to do with our lives.
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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.
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The amount of beautiful sentences it contains is just overwhelming. It also takes you to the Old South which has an incredible atmosphere. Joan Didion — On Self Respect. Normally, with that title you would expect some straightforward advice about how to improve your character and get on with your goddamn life — but not from Joan Didion.
You can learn more from this essay than from whole books about self-improvement. Susan Sontag — Notes on Camp. After reading this essay, you will know what camp is. You will vastly increase your appreciation for art. All the listicles we usually see on the web simply cannot compare with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson — Self-Reliance. Written in , it still inspires generations of people. It will let you understand what it means to be self-made. It contains some of the most memorable quotes of all time.
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Emerson told me and he will tell you to do something amazing with my life. The language it contains is a bit archaic but that just adds to the weight of the argument. You can consider it to be a meeting with a great philosopher who really shaped the ethos of the modern United States. He sees right through the hypocrisy and cruelty behind killing hundreds of thousands of innocent lobsters — by boiling them alive. This essay uncovers some of the worst traits of modern American peoples.
After reading this essay, you may reconsider the whole animal-eating business.
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The famous novelist and author of the most powerful commencement speech ever done is going to tell you about the joys and sorrows of writing a work of fiction. But you love that child and you want others to love it too. If you ever plan to write a novel, you should definitely read that one. And the story about the Chinese farmer is just priceless. Margaret Atwood — Attitude. This is not an essay per se, but I included it in the list for the sake of variety. Soon after leaving the university, most graduates have to forget about safety, parties, and travel, and start a new life — one filled with a painful routine that will last until they drop.
Read that one as soon as possible.
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To summarize the story would be to spoil it, so I recommend that you just dig in and devour this essay during one sitting. No need for flowery adjectives here. To me, Terence McKenna was one of the most interesting thinkers of the twentieth century. McKenna consumed psychedelic drugs for most of his life and it shows in a positive way. Many people consider him a looney, and a hippie, but he was so much more than that.
He had the courage to go into the abyss of his own psyche, and come back to tell the tale. He also wrote many books most famous being Food Of The Gods , built a huge botanical garden in Hawaii , lived with shamans, and was a connoisseur of all things enigmatic and obscure.
Take a look at this essay, and learn more about the explorations of the subconscious mind. Novelist, professor and all round legend, Gay wrote this witty and thoughtful collection of essays chronicling her journey as a woman and feminist who likes pink and dancing to Blurred Lines. The columnist and co-host of podcast, The High Low releases her first book of non-fiction essays next month and it is an ode to female friendship.
Beautifully written and full of poignant insights gained on that amble through the most confusing decade of you life, your 20s. Irish Times columnist and deputy features editor, Ingle was talking openly about her life long before it was a remotely acceptable thing in Ireland.