17 Essays by Female Writers That Everyone Should Read


The Fourth State of Matter,” Jo Ann Beard

This moving essay captures the events in Jo Ann Beard’s life preceding and surrounding the 1991 shooting at the University of Iowa, which claimed the lives of four faculty members and one student in the physics department, where Beard worked part-time. The juxtaposition of Beard’s daily struggles — caring for her sick dog, navigating a separation, and getting rid of squirrels from her attic — with the shooting underscores the unpredictability, shock, and otherworldliness of tragedy.