Here in one place are her thoughts on climate change, pop culture, and a host of other topics. With Erosion: Essays of Undoing , Terry Tempest Williams again turns her attention to the American West, confronting the imprint that human desire, political mismanagement, and extractive industry has made on a landscape that long predates us and will exist after we are gone.
With a vivid attentiveness to the details of the land around her, details that seem all the more urgently important for the threats they face, she examines erosion—both of the physical landscape and the mental attitudes that have driven its destruction—as a process that can be damaging, restorative, or a mix of the two. What good were words or writing in the face of injustice? The result was Dictionary of the Undoing , a compendium of the words that Freeman felt were essential today. As a tourist in , Sonya Bilocerkowycz encounters Ukraine at a time of revolution, one when political idealism has reached a fever pitch.
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Cover not yet available. Article continues after advertisement. 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. Probably the greatest film critic of all time, Roger Ebert, tells us not to rage against the dying of the light.
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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 of 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 the 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 an 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.
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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. Mary Ruefle — On Fear.
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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.
Most of them are worthless, but this one is different. Please, read the essay and let it help you gain fulfillment from your work.
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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.
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.