essays

Jun 26, 2019

T Kira Madden's debut memoir in essays is brutal in the best way: gorgeously written, relentlessly honest, and impossible to put down. If you're into stories about daughters who love and struggle with imperfect parents, read this. If you relate to families filled with dysfunction, read this. If you love someone who is queer, read this. If you have a soft spot for essays that make you cry at work, read this. Seriously--I could find a reason for everyone to read this book. Been touched somehow by adoption? By trauma? By being a lost teenager? By having to leave home to find it again? This book

The Faraway Nearby

By Rebecca Solnit
4
Rated by Chris K.
Dec 1, 2017

This evocative collection of meditations emerged from a time of crisis in Solnit's life, and centers on her mother's descent into Alzheimer's and her own diagnosis of and treatment for potential cancer. Solnit's writing is fluid and meandering, flowing lyrically from thought to thought, topic to topic. Themes recur frequently and range widely: life in the arctic, decaying apricots, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Che Guevara, leprosy, The Arabian Nights, Buddhism, ice, mirrors, breath, wounds, knots, and more. Central to the entire enterprise is consideration of the nature and purpose of stories

May 12, 2017

How do you raise a feminist? This little book offers 15 suggestions for taking on the task and offers insight into how we can tackle living as feminists in our everyday lives. Dear Ijeawele is powerfully short and gets to the point, as a manifesto should. Her recommendations include; “ 'Because you are a girl' is never a reason for anything”; “teach her to love books”; and “teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary.”


Written as a letter to a friend, Dear Ijeawele, is a fast read with the potential to start conversations about what it means to be a woman today. 

Bad Feminist

By Roxane Gay
5
Rated by Amy F.
Mar 12, 2016

Immediately after finishing the downloadable audiobook of Bad Feminist, crisply narrated by the inestimable Bahni Turpin, I placed the print book on hold. There are just too many interesting, important and often hilarious moments to absorb in one go. Turpin's reading is too good to pass up, so I wholeheartedly recommend the audiobook, but on this second time through, I'd like the luxury of reading and then rereading those paragraphs that give me the most to think about.


Roxane Gay is both a fiction writer and an essayist, as well as a social media cultural commentator. Bad Feminist was my

Feb 6, 2015

What began as an exercise to work through daunting experiences would eventually become this powerful collection of essays about understanding Asperger Syndrome. Finding Kansas captures Aaron Likens' introspective journey from awkward early teens to roller-coaster 20s and onward to an empowering future.


To Aaron, Kansas represents a place where he is safe and confident. (Believe it or not, he's not from Kansas.) He was diagnosed with Aspeger's as a young man, so writing became a way for him to tease out how the disorder had played a role in his early behaviors and interactions. He analyzes

Stitches

By Anne Lamott
5
Rated by Bethany T.
Jul 29, 2014

"It can be too sad here.  We often lose our way."  Anne Lamott's latest musing on faith focuses on the thorny parts of life and love—grief, anger, pain—and how to keep living throughout it all.  Stitching together the ripped shreds of ourselves, she says, is the answer.  Community, faith, music, even something as mundane as replacing smelly, stained floorboards—all of these help us sew our lives together and move on, stronger for the scar tissue that has knitted us whole again.   Like many of Lamott's works on faith, Stitches blends deep and insightful theological musings with personal (and

Wild Comfort

By Kathleen Dean Moore
5
Rated by Hannah Jane C.
Dec 23, 2013

Perhaps the best essay in Wild Comfort is the piece that launches the collection, The Solace of Snakes.  It’s possible that it’s my favorite essay because of her cunning implementation of snake tins (sheets of metal) to give snakes a proper home in a cleared field.  Kathleen Dean Moore further explains her recordings each day as she carefully lifts the snake tins and examines the life beneath: “A large vole. . . dropping blind babies from her teats like ripe plums,” garter snakes, rubber boas, an alligator lizard – treasures of the dark that are suddenly revealed in the light of Moore’s simple

Oct 2, 2013

Don’t be fooled, you’ll learn nothing about diabetes or owls here, but the random suggestion makes it all the more entertaining.  Shortly before this book was released, I had the privilege of attending “An Evening with David Sedaris” in Kansas City, where I got a preview of some of the hilarious treasures to come in Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.  Sedaris likes to test his pieces with various live audiences, tweaking them along the way until they are primed for publishing, and I was excited to hear some of my favorites again in their polished state. 


This collection is packed with a

Jan 20, 2013

Don’t mind the title, this book is much better than leftover cake.  Editors Kim Perel and Wendy Sherman have stitched together a collection of personal essays from women who reveal the joys, dramas, peculiarities, and even tragedies faced during the first months and years of marriage.  Each offers a unique perspective, but the stories read well as a whole, each with a dose of humor to tie them together and remind us that sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.

Perhaps most meaningful to me, many of these narratives are fond reflections that come decades after the first “I do,”

Nov 19, 2012

Editors Anderson & Forman, both writers and parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), have compiled an anthology of essays and verse detailing experiences with ASD either as parents, teachers, advocates and therapists.  All of the contributors are experienced writers and parents of children with ASD who candidly share their journeys and life changing experiences as they navigate the world of ASD.  John Elder Robison (Look Me in the Eye) shares his unique insight as a person with ASD and a parent of a child with ASD in an enlightening forward to this anthology.  The contributors

Jun 21, 2011

I usually like funny, fast-paced reads only if they’re poking fun at our society or have some deeper cultural undertones. But occasionally even I get sick of dwelling in life’s neurotic muck and want something to read that’s light-hearted and escapist, but still realistic enough that my eyeballs don’t get strained from rolling too far back into my head.

My mom has been on my case to read Lisa Scottoline’s legal thrillers, but I’m allergic to adrenaline, or at least anything with the word “thriller” in it. Then one day my mom emailed me the link to Scottoline’s “Chick Wit” column from the

Oct 21, 2010

scl.jpgI stumbled upon this essay by Jonathan Acuff on CNN.com one day, which lead me to his blog, which lead me to his book Stuff Christians Like. I’m not a Christian, so why did I like this book so much? I think there are three reasons: it’s full of satire, subcultures, and kindness, three of my favorite things. Acuff might have intended his book to be a way for Christians to poke fun of their idiosyncrasies with inside jokes. But being a non-Christian, I never felt left out of the joke. It’s as if a really cool friend asked me to join him at his really awesome church, held my hand the whole

Mike Nelson’s Mind over Matters

By Michael J. Nelson
3
Rated by Amanda H.
Sep 25, 2010

mind over matters As a fan of the show Mystery Science Theater 3000, I have a great appreciation for Michael J. Nelson. Sure, some people prefer Joel, the first host, but I started with Mike and have always had a soft spot for his dorky delivery and hapless enthusiasm. And as the head writer, his wit was a major force behind the overall flavor of the show’s ten seasons. So I'm happy to say that his skill in crafting funny material transfers well to his books, which include the comedic essay collections Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese and Mike Nelson's Mind over Matters. While Movie Megacheese focuses

Mar 30, 2010

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Reasons I enjoyed this book

A. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE STAND-UP COMEDY. I listen to it on XM radio, watch Comedy Central and visit the comedy clubs as often as possible.

B. I am a female. I enjoyed reading about these comedians and why some women did not find their shtick so funny.

C. I have been with the same (awesome) dude for 14 years and like to live vicariously through books.

D. Nothing beats a good, deep belly laugh. I love a good, deep belly laugh.

I wholeheartedly believe that New York Magazine was right when they said "If you've laughed in the last ten years, Ben Karlin was

Feb 2, 2010

Lights on a Ground of Darkness: An Evocation of a Place and Time originally was published in 2005 by the University of Nebraska Press. That handsome little hardcover, though, was a limited edition; one thousand copies were printed, each of them numbered and signed by the author. Last September, under its Bison Books imprint, the press re-released the book in a mass-market paperback edition -- and Publishers Weekly promptly named it one of the top 20 books published last fall by independent and university presses. The praise is deserved. Kooser is best-known for his poetry; he's a Pulitzer