Ralph Waldo Emerson

50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list. … Read More

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10 Famous Writers on How to Read

Recently, we came across Kurt Vonnegut’s term paper assignment for his 1965 “Form of Fiction” course at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, recently reprinted in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield. Needless to say, the assignment is almost a short story in and of itself — filled with Vonnegut’s delicious turns of phrase and serious expectations, plus his advice on how best to read fiction, or in particular, how best to read short stories that one can then talk or write about well. Inspired, we hunted around for other famous authors with opinions on how best to read — get a little instruction in something you’ve been doing all your life after the jump. … Read More

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