The Best Essays eBooks




Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
by Anna Quindlen
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead — and celebrating it all — as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.
As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. Using her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages, Quindlen talks about
Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”
Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. Sometimes I will see a photo of an actress in an unflattering dress or a blouse too young for her or with a heavy-handed makeup job, and I mutter, ‘She must not have any girlfriends. ’”
Stuff: “Here’s what it comes down to, really: there is now so much stuff in my head, so many years, so many memories, that it’s taken the place of primacy away from the things in the bedrooms, on the porch. My doctor says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, she doesn’t believe our memories flag because of a drop in estrogen but because of how crowded it is in the drawers of our minds. Between the stuff at work and the stuff at home, the appointments and the news and the gossip and the rest, the past and the present and the plans for the future, the filing cabinets in our heads are not only full, they’re overflowing.”
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.”
Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”
From childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, Quindlen uses the events of her own life to illuminate our own. Along with the downsides of age, she says, can come wisdom, a perspective on life that makes it satisfying and even joyful. Candid, funny, moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.


 



When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
by Terry Tempest Williams
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
Sorry, no description about this book. :(

 



Farther Away
by Jonathan Franzen
Farther Away

Jonathan Franzen's Freedom was the runaway most-discussed novel of 2010, an ambitious and searching engagement with life in America in the twenty-first century. In The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus proclaimed it "a masterpiece of American fiction" and lauded its illumination, "through the steady radiance of its author's profound moral intelligence, [of] the world we thought we knew."

In Farther Away, which gathers together essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years, Franzen returns with renewed vigor to the themes, both human and literary, that have long preoccupied him. Whether recounting his violent encounter with bird poachers in Cyprus, examining his mixed feelings about the suicide of his friend and rival David Foster Wallace, or offering a moving and witty take on the ways that technology has changed how people express their love, these pieces deliver on Franzen's implicit promise to conceal nothing. On a trip to China to see first-hand the environmental devastation there, he doesn't omit mention of his excitement and awe at the pace of China's economic development; the trip becomes a journey out of his own prejudice and moral condemnation. Taken together, these essays trace the progress of unique and mature mind wrestling with itself, with literature, and with some of the most important issues of our day. Farther Away is remarkable, provocative, and necessary.


 



Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood: The Good, The Bad, and the Scary
by Jill Smokler
Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood: The Good, The Bad, and the Scary

Based on the hugely popular website, ScaryMommy. com, Confessions of a Scary Mommy digs deep into the underbelly of parenting and tackles the issues many mothers are too afraid to expose.

Sometimes I just let my children fall asleep in front of the TV.

In a culture that idealizes motherhood, it’s scary to confess that, in your house, being a mother is beautiful and dirty and joyful and frustrating all at once. Admitting that it’s not easy doesn’t make you a bad mom; at least, it shouldn’t.

If I can’t survive my daughter as a toddler, how the hell am I going to get through the teenage years?

When Jill Smokler was first home with her small children, she thought her blog would be something to keep friends and family updated. To her surprise, she hit a chord in the hearts of mothers everywhere.

I end up doing my son’s homework. It’s wrong, but so much easier.

Total strangers were contributing their views on that strange reality called motherhood. As other women shared their stories, Jill realized she wasn’t alone in her feelings of exhaustion and imperfection.

My eighteen month old still can’t say “Mommy” but used the word “shit” in perfect context.

But she sensed her readers were still holding back, so decided to start an anonymous confessional, a place where real moms could leave their most honest thoughts without fearing condemnation.

I pretend to be happy but I cry every night in the shower.

The reactions were amazing: some sad, some pee-in-your-pants funny, some brutally honest. But they were real, not a commercial glamorization.

I clock out of motherhood at 8 P. M. and hide in the basement with my laptop and a beer.

If you’re already a fan, lock the bathroom door on your whining kids, run a bubble bath, and settle in. If you’ve not encountered Scary Mommy before, break out a glass of champagne as well, because you’ll be toasting your initiation into a select club.

I know why some animals eat their young.

In chapters that cover husbands (The Biggest Baby of Them All) to homework (Didn’t I Already Graduate?), Confessions of a Scary Mommy combines all-new essays from Jill with the best of the anonymous confessions.

Sometimes I wish my son was still little — then I hear kids screaming at the store.

As Jill says, “We like to paint motherhood as picture perfect. A newborn peacefully resting on his mother’s chest. A toddler taking tentative first steps into his mother’s loving arms. A mother fluffing her daughter’s prom dress. These moments are indeed miraculous and joyful; they can also be few and far between.” Of course you adore your kids. Of course you would lay down your life for them. But be honest now: Have you ever wondered what possessed you to sign up for the job of motherhood?

STOP! DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK UNTIL YOU RECITE THESE VOWS!

I shall remember that no mother is perfect and my children will thrive because, and sometimes even in spite, of me.

I shall not preach to a fellow mother who has not asked my opinion. It’s none of my damn business.

I shall maintain a sense of humor about all things motherhood.


 



Free Will
by Sam Harris
Free Will

Belief in free will touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality — as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement — without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.

In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.


 



When I Was a Child I Read Books
by Marilynne Robinson
When I Was a Child I Read Books
Sorry, no description about this book. :(

 



You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations
by Michael Ian Black
You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations

Darkly humorous and told with raw honesty, You're Not Doing it Right is Michael's debut memoir. In it, he takes on his childhood, his marriage, his children, and his career with unexpected candor and deadpan wit, as he shares the neuroses that have plagued him since he was a kid and how they shaped him into the man he is today.

In this funny-because-it's-true essay collection, Michael says the kinds of things most people are afraid to admit, and as a husband and father living in the suburbs, asks the question so many of us ask ourselves at one point or another. How did I end up here?


 



This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking
by John Brockman
This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking

Featuring a foreword by David Brooks, This Will Make You Smarter presents brilliant — but accessible — ideas to expand every mind.

What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? This is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge. org, posed to the world’s most influential thinkers. Their visionary answers flow from the frontiers of psychology, philosophy, economics, physics, sociology, and more. Surprising and enlightening, these insights will revolutionize the way you think about yourself and the world.

Daniel Kahneman on the “focusing illusion” • Jonah Lehrer on controlling attention • Richard Dawkins on experimentation • Aubrey De Grey on conquering our fear of the unknown • Martin Seligman on the ingredients of well-being • Nicholas Carr on managing “cognitive load” • Steven Pinker on win-win negotiating • Daniel C. Dennett on benefiting from cycles • Jaron Lanier on resisting delusion • Frank Wilczek on the brain’s hidden layers • Clay Shirky on the “80/20 rule” • Daniel Goleman on understanding our connection to the natural world • V. S. Ramachandran on paradigm shifts • Matt Ridley on tapping collective intelligence • John McWhorter on path dependence • Lisa Randall on effective theorizing • Brian Eno on “ecological vision” • Richard Thaler on rooting out false concepts • J. Craig Venter on the multiple possible origins of life • Helen Fisher on temperament • Sam Harris on the flow of thought • Lawrence Krauss on living with uncertainty


 



Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion
by Alain de Botton
Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion

What if religions are neither all true or all nonsense? The boring debate between fundamentalist believers and non-believers is finally moved on by Alain's inspiring new book, which boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are of course entirely false — and yet that religions still have some very important things to teach the secular world.

Religion for Atheists suggests that rather than mocking religions, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from them — because they're packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies. Blending deep respect with total impiety, Alain (a non-believer himself) proposes that we should look to religions for insights into, among other concerns, how to:

- build a sense of community

- make our relationships last

- overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy

- escape the twenty-four hour media

- go travelling

- get more out of art, architecture and music

- and create new businesses designed to address our emotional needs.

For too long non-believers have faced a stark choice between either swallowing lots of peculiar doctrines or doing away with a range of consoling and beautiful rituals and ideas. At last, in Religion for Atheists, Alain has fashioned a far more interesting and truly helpful alternative.


 



Life As I Blow It: Tales Of Love, Life & Sex . . . Not Necessarily In That Order
by Sarah Colonna, Chelsea Handler
Life As I Blow It: Tales Of Love, Life & Sex . . . Not Necessarily In That Order

In this wickedly funny and irreverent memoir, Chelsea Lately writer and comedian Sarah Colonna opens up about love, life, and pursuing her dreams… and then screwing it all up.
Sarah believes we all struggle to grow up. Sometimes we want to have fun, not take things too seriously, and have that fourth margarita. Other times we would like to get married, stay in, order Chinese food, and have a responsible, secure life.
From her formative years in small-town Arkansas to a later career of dates, drinks, and questionable day jobs, Colonna attempts to reconcile her responsible side with her fun-loving side. Sometimes this pans out, and sometimes she finds herself in Mexico handing out her phone number to anyone who calls her pretty. She moves to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but for years is forced to hone her bartending skills; she wants a serious boyfriend, but won’t give up nights at the bar with her friends. She tries to behave like an adult, but can’t seem to stop acting like a frat boy. In the end, she discovers that there doesn’t have to be just one or the other. And if there’s one thing Colonna has learned from her many missteps, it’s that hindsight is always 100 proof.

Includes a Foreword by Chelsea Handler


 



Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Avis Lang
Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

"A compelling appeal, at just the right time, for continuing to look up."-Air & Space

America's space program is at a turning point. After decades of global primacy, NASA has ended the space-shuttle program, cutting off its access to space. No astronauts will be launched in an American craft, from American soil, until the 2020s, and NASA may soon find itself eclipsed by other countries' space programs.

With his signature wit and thought-provoking insights, Neil deGrasse Tyson-one of our foremost thinkers on all things space-illuminates the past, present, and future of space exploration and brilliantly reminds us why NASA matters now as much as ever. As Tyson reveals, exploring the space frontier can profoundly enrich many aspects of our daily lives, from education systems and the economy to national security and morale. For America to maintain its status as a global leader and a technological innovator, he explains, we must regain our enthusiasm and curiosity about what lies beyond our world.

Provocative, humorous, and wonderfully readable, Space Chronicles represents the best of Tyson's recent commentary, including a must-read prologue on NASA and partisan politics. Reflecting on topics that range from scientific literacy to space-travel missteps, Tyson gives us an urgent, clear-eyed, and ultimately inspiring vision for the future.


 



Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now — As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
by Craig Taylor
Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now — As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It

Five years in the making, Londoners is a fresh and compulsively readable view of one of the world's most fascinating cities — a vibrant narrative portrait of the London of our own time, featuring unforgettable stories told by the real people who make the city hum.

Acclaimed writer and editor Craig Taylor has spent years traversing every corner of the city, getting to know the most interesting Londoners, including the voice of the London Underground, a West End rickshaw driver, an East End nightclub doorperson, a mounted soldier of the Queen's Life Guard at Buckingham Palace, and a couple who fell in love at the Tower of London — and now live there. With candor and humor, this diverse cast — rich and poor, old and young, native and immigrant, men and women (and even a Sarah who used to be a George) — shares indelible tales that capture the city as never before.

Together, these voices paint a vivid, epic, and wholly original portrait of twenty-first-century London in all its breadth, from Notting Hill to Brixton, from Piccadilly Circus to Canary Wharf, from an airliner flying into London Heathrow Airport to Big Ben and Tower Bridge, and down to the deepest tunnels of the London Underground. Londoners is the autobiography of one of the world's greatest cities.


 



All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps
by Dave Isay
All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps

In ALL THERE, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay shares stories of love and marriage from the revolutionary oral history project, revealing the many and remarkable journeys that relationships can take.

In stories that carry us from the excitement and anticipation of courtship to the deep connection of lifelong commitment, we discover that love is found in the most unexpected of places — a New York tollbooth, a military base in Iraq, an airport lounge — and learn that the course it takes is as unpredictable as life itself. As the storytellers in this book start careers, build homes, and raise families, we witness the life-affirming joy of partnership, the comfort of shared sorrows, and profound gratitude in the face of loss.

These stories are also testament to the heart’s remarkable endurance. In ALL THERE IS we encounter love that survives discrimination, illness, poverty, distance — even death. In the courage of people’s passion we are reminded of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. This powerful collection bares witness to real love, in its many varied forms, enriching our understanding of that most magical feeling.


 



How to Be Black
by Baratunde R. Thurston
How to Be Black

If You Don't Buy This Book, You're a Racist.

Have you ever been called "too black" or "not black enough"?

Have you ever befriended or worked with a black person?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

Raised by a pro-black, Pan-Afrikan single mother during the crack years of 1980s Washington, DC, and educated at Sidwell Friends School and Harvard University, Baratunde Thurston has over thirty years' experience being black. Now, through stories of his politically inspired Nigerian name, the heroics of his hippie mother, the murder of his drug-abusing father, and other revelatory black details, he shares with readers of all colors his wisdom and expertise in how to be black.

Beyond memoir, this guidebook offers practical advice on everything from "How to Be The Black Friend" to "How to Be The (Next) Black President" to "How to Celebrate Black History Month."

To provide additional perspective, Baratunde assembled an award-winning Black Panel — three black women, three black men, and one white man (Christian Lander of Stuff White People Like) — and asked them such revealing questions as:

"When Did You First Realize You Were Black?"

"How Black Are You?"

"Can You Swim?"

The result is a humorous, intelligent, and audacious guide that challenges and satirizes the so-called experts, purists, and racists who purport to speak for all black people. With honest storytelling and biting wit, Baratunde plots a path not just to blackness, but one open to anyone interested in simply "how to be."


 



Bossypants
by Tina Fey
Bossypants

Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update, " before "Sarah Palin, " Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)


 



Distrust That Particular Flavor
by William Gibson
Distrust That Particular Flavor

William Gibson is known primarily as a novelist, with his work ranging from his groundbreaking first novel, Neuromancer, to his more recent contemporary bestsellers Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History. During those nearly thirty years, though, Gibson has been sought out by widely varying publications for his insights into contemporary culture. Wired magazine sent him to Singapore to report on one of the world's most buttoned-up states. The New York Times Magazine asked him to describe what was wrong with the Internet. Rolling Stone published his essay on the ways our lives are all "soundtracked" by the music and the culture around us. And in a speech at the 2010 Book Expo, he memorably described the interactive relationship between writer and reader. These essays and articles have never been collected-until now. Some have never appeared in print at all. In addition, Distrust That Particular Flavor includes journalism from small publishers, online sources, and magazines no longer in existence. This volume will be essential reading for any lover of William Gibson's novels. Distrust That Particular Flavor offers readers a privileged view into the mind of a writer whose thinking has shaped not only a generation of writers but our entire culture.


 



It Chooses You
by Miranda July, Brigitte Sire
It Chooses You

In the summer of 2009, Miranda July was struggling to finish writing the screenplay for her much-anticipated second film. During her increasingly long lunch breaks, she began to obsessively read the PennySaver, the iconic classifieds booklet that reached everywhere and seemed to come from nowhere. Who was the person selling the “Large leather Jacket, $10”? It seemed important to find out — or at least it was a great distraction from the screenplay.

Accompanied by photographer Brigitte Sire, July crisscrossed Los Angeles to meet a random selection of PennySaver sellers, glimpsing thirteen surprisingly moving and profoundly specific realities, along the way shaping her film, and herself, in unexpected ways.

Elegantly blending narrative, interviews, and photographs with July’s off-kilter honesty and deadpan humor, this is a story of procrastination and inspiration, isolation and connection, and grabbing hold of the invisible world.


 



Shockaholic
by Carrie Fisher
Shockaholic

Infused with Carrie Fisher’s trademark incisive wit and on the heels of Wishful Drinking’s instant New York Times bestselling success, Shockaholic takes readers on another rollicking ride into her crazy life.

There is no shortage of people flocking to hear what Princess Leia has to say. Her previous hardcover, Wishful Drinking, was an instant New York Times bestseller and Carrie was featured everywhere on broadcast media and received rave reviews from coast to coast, including People (4 stars; one of their top 10 books of the year), Entertainment Weekly, New York Times, and scores of others.

Told with the same intimate style, brutal honesty, and uproarious wisdom that placed Wishful Drinking on the New York Times bestseller list for months, Shockaholic is the juicy account of Carrie Fisher’s life, focusing more on the Star Wars years and dishing about the various Hollywood relationships she’s formed since she was chosen to play Princess Leia at only nineteen years old. Fisher delves into the gritty details that made the movie — and herself — such a phenomenal success, admitting, “It isn’t all sweetness and light sabers.”


 



The New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass
by Bill Maher
The New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass

From bestselling author and host of HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher's new book of political riffs serves up a savagely funny set of rules for preserving sanity in an insane world A follow-up to the New York Times bestselling The New Rules, The New New Rules delivers a series of hilarious, intelligent rants on everything from same-sex marriage to healthcare, from Republican agendas to celebrity meltdowns, with all the razor-sharp insight that has made Bill Maher one of the most influential comedic voices shaping the political debate today. With another presidential campaign on the horizon and a stellar set of real- life characters to have fun with-"New Rule: If Charlie Sheen's home life means he can't have a TV show, then I say Newt Gingrich can't be president"-this enlightening and important book may be the best thing you pretend to read all year.


 






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