The Best Essays eBooks




It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir)
by Wade Rouse
It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir)

How come the only thing my family tree ever grows is nuts?”

Wade Rouse attempts to answer that question in his blisteringly funny new memoir by looking at the yearly celebrations that unite us all and bring out the very best and worst in our nearest and dearest. Family is truly the only gift that keeps on giving — namely, the gifts of dysfunction and eccentricity — and Wade Rouse’s family has been especially charitable: His chatty yet loving mother dresses her son as a Ubangi tribesman, in blackface, for Halloween in the rural Ozarks; his unconventional engineer of a father buries his children’s Easter eggs; his marvelously Martha Stewart–esque partner believes Barbie is his baby; his garage-sale obsessed set of in-laws are convinced they can earn more than Warren Buffett by selling their broken lamps and Nehru jackets; his mutt Marge speaks her own language; and his oddball collection of relatives includes a tipsy Santa Claus with an affinity for showing off his jingle balls.

In the end, though, the Rouse House gifted Wade with love, laughter, understanding, superb comic timing, and a humbling appreciation for humiliation. Whether Wade dates a mime on his birthday to overcome his phobia of clowns or outruns a chub-chasing boss on Secretary’s Day, he captures our holidays with his trademark self-deprecating humor and acerbic wit. He paints a funny, sad, poignant, and outlandish portrait of an an all-too-typical family that will have you appreciating — or bemoaning — your own and shrieking in laughter.


 



Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
by Patton Oswalt
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Prepare yourself for a journey through the world of Patton Oswalt, one of the most creative, insightful, and hysterical voices on the entertain­ment scene today. Widely known for his roles in the films Big Fan and Ratatouille, as well as the television hit The King of Queens, Patton Oswalt — a staple of Comedy Central — has been amusing audiences for decades. Now, with Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, he offers a fascinating look into his most unusual, and lovable, mindscape.

Oswalt combines memoir with uproarious humor, from snow forts to Dungeons & Dragons to gifts from Grandma that had to be explained. He remem­bers his teen summers spent working in a movie Cineplex and his early years doing stand-up. Readers are also treated to several graphic elements, includ­ing a vampire tale for the rest of us and some greeting cards with a special touch. Then there’s the book’s centerpiece, which posits that before all young creative minds have anything to write about, they will home in on one of three story lines: zom­bies, spaceships, or wastelands.

Oswalt chose wastelands, and ever since he has been mining our society’s wasteland for perversion and excess, pop culture and fatty foods, indie rock and single-malt scotch. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is an inventive account of the evolution of Patton Oswalt’s wildly insightful worldview, sure to indulge his legion of fans and lure many new admirers to his very entertaining “wasteland.”


 



How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
by Stanley Fish
How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One

Some appreciate fine art; others appreciate fine wines. Stanley Fish appreciates fine sentences. The New York Times columnist and world-class professor has long been an aficionado of language. Like a seasoned sportscaster, Fish marvels at the adeptness of finely crafted sentences and breaks them down into digestible morsels, giving readers an instant play-by-play.

In this entertaining and erudite gem, Fish offers both sentence craft and sentence pleasure, skills invaluable to any writer (or reader). How to Write a Sentence is both a spirited love letter to the written word and a key to understanding how great writing works; it is a book that will stand the test of time.


 



How Reading Changed My Life
by Anna Quindlen
How Reading Changed My Life

A recurring theme throughout Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life is the comforting premise that readers are never alone."There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, " she writes, "a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but never really a stranger. My real, true world." Later, she quotes editor Hazel Rochman: "Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere." Indeed, Quindlen's essays are full of the names of "friends, " real or fictional-Anne of Green Gables and Heidi; Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen, to name just a few-who have comforted, inspired, educated, and delighted her throughout her life. In four short essays Quindlen shares her thoughts on the act of reading itself ("It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light"); analyzes the difference between how men and women read ("there are very few books in which male characters, much less boys, are portrayed as devoted readers"); and cheerfully defends middlebrow literature:
Most of those so-called middlebrow readers would have readily admitted that the Iliad set a standard that could not be matched by What Makes Sammy Run? or Exodus. But any reader with common sense would also understand intuitively, immediately, that such comparisons are false, that the uses of reading are vast and variegated and that some of them are not addressed by Homer.
The Canon, censorship, and the future of publishing, not to mention that of reading itself, are all subjects Quindlen addresses with intelligence and optimism in a book that may not change your life, but will no doubt remind you of other books that did. -Alix Wilber(less)


 



Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East
by Pico Iyer, Robin Desser
Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East
Sorry, no description about this book. :(

 



Dave Barry Talks Back
by Dave Barry, David Groff, Jeff MacNelly
Dave Barry Talks Back
Sorry, no description about this book. :(

 



Dave Barry Turns Fifty
by Dave Barry
Dave Barry Turns Fifty

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist comes a celebration of the aging process. Not just Dave's, but that of the whole Baby Boom Generation-those millions of us who set a standard for whining self-absorption that will never be equaled, and who gave birth to such stunning accomplishments as Saturday Night Live!, the New Age movement, and call waiting. Here Dave pinpoints the glaring signs that you've passed the half-century mark:

- You are suddenly unable to read anything written in letters smaller than Marlon Brando.
- You have accepted the fact that you can't possibly be hip. You don't even know if "hip" is the right word for hip anymore, and you don't care.
- You remember nuclear-attack drills at school wherein you practiced protecting yourself by crouching under your desk, which was apparently made out of some kind of atomic-bomb-proof wood.
- You can't name the secretary of defense, but you can still sing the Mister Clean song.

So pop open a can of Geritol®, kick back in that recliner, grab those reading glasses, and let the good times roll-before they roll right over you!


 



I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections
by Nora Ephron
I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections

Nora Ephron returns with her first book since the astounding success of I Feel Bad About My Neck, taking a cool, hard, hilarious look at the past, the present, and the future, bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life, and recalling with her signature clarity and wisdom everything she hasn’t (yet) forgotten.

Ephron writes about falling hard for a way of life (“Journalism: A Love Story”) and about breaking up even harder with the men in her life (“The D Word”); lists “Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again” (“There is no explaining the stock market but people try”; “You can never know the truth of anyone’s marriage, including your own”; “Cary Grant was Jewish”; “Men cheat”); reveals the alarming evolution, a decade after she wrote and directed You’ve Got Mail, of her relationship with her in-box (“The Six Stages of E-Mail”); and asks the age-old question, which came first, the chicken soup or the cold? All the while, she gives candid, edgy voice to everything women who have reached a certain age have been thinking… but rarely acknowledging.

Filled with insights and observations that instantly ring true — and could have come only from Nora Ephron — I Remember Nothing is pure joy.


 



The Mind's Eye
by Oliver Sacks
The Mind's Eye

In Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks explored music and the brain; now, in The Mind's Eye, he writes about the myriad ways in which we experience the visual world: how we see in three dimensions; how we recognize individual faces or places; how we use language to communicate verbally; how we translate marks on paper into words and paragraphs; and, even how we represent the world internally when our eyes are closed. Alongside remarkable stories of people who have lost these abilities but adapted with courage, resilience and ingenuity, there is an added, personal element: one day in late 2005, Sacks became aware of a dazzling, flashing light in one part of his visual field; it was not the familiar migraine aura he had experienced since childhood, and just two days later a malignant tumor in one eye was diagnosed. In subsequent journal entries — some of which are included in The Mind's Eye — he chronicled the experience of living with cancer, recording both the effects of the tumor itself, and radiation therapy. In turning himself into a case history, Sacks has given us perhaps his most intimate, impressive and insightful (no pun intended) book yet.


 



In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy
by Adam Carolla
In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy

A couple years back, I was at the Phoenix airport bar. It was empty except for one heavy-set, gray bearded, grizzled guy who looked like he just rode his donkey into town after a long day of panning for silver in them thar hills. He ordered a Jack Daniels straight up, and that's when I overheard the young guy with the earring behind the bar asking him if he had ID. At first the old sea captain just laughed. But the guy with the twinkle in his ear asked again. At this point it became apparent that he was serious. Dan Haggerty's dad fired back, "You've got to be kidding me, son." The bartender replied, "New policy. Everyone has to show their ID." Then I watched Burl Ives reluctantly reach into his dungarees and pull out his military identification card from World War II. It's a sad and eerie harbinger of our times that the Oprah-watching, crystal-rubbing, Whole Foods-shopping moms and their whipped attorney husbands have taken the ability to reason away from the poor schlub who makes the Bloody Marys. What we used to settle with common sense or a fist, we now settle with hand sanitizer and lawyers.

Adam Carolla has had enough of this insanity and he's here to help us get our collective balls back.

In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks… And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy is Adam's comedic gospel of modern America. He rips into the absurdity of the culture that demonized the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, turned the nation's bathrooms into a lawless free-for-all of urine and fecal matter, and put its citizens at the mercy of a bunch of minimum wagers with axes to grind. Peppered between complaints, Carolla shares candid anecdotes from his day-to-day life as well as his past — Sunday football at Jimmy Kimmel's house, his attempts to raise his kids in a society that he mostly disagrees with, his big showbiz break, and much, much more. Brilliantly showcasing Adam's spot-on sense of humor, this book cements his status as a cultural commentator/comedian/complainer extraordinaire.


 



My Reading Life
by Pat Conroy
My Reading Life

Bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life.

Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is a voracious reader. Starting as a childhood passion that bloomed into a life-long companion, reading has been Conroy’s portal to the world, both to the farthest corners of the globe and to the deepest chambers of the human soul. His interests range widely, from Milton to Tolkien, Philip Roth to Thucydides, encompassing poetry, history, philosophy, and any mesmerizing tale of his native South. He has for years kept notebooks in which he records words and expressions, over time creating a vast reservoir of playful turns of phrase, dazzling flashes of description, and snippets of delightful sound, all just for his love of language. But for Conroy reading is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity.
In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of reading through an array of wonderful and often surprising anecdotes: sharing the pleasures of the local library’s vast cache with his mother when he was a boy, recounting his decades-long relationship with the English teacher who pointed him onto the path of letters, and describing a profoundly influential period he spent in Paris, as well as reflecting on other pivotal people, places, and experiences. His story is a moving and personal one, girded by wisdom and an undeniable honesty. Anyone who not only enjoys the pleasures of reading but also believes in the power of books to shape a life will find here the greatest defense of that credo.

BONUS:  This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Pat Conroy's The Death of Santini.


 



Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories
by Mike Birbiglia
Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories

Hello, I am Mike Birbiglia and I want you to read my book. Too on the nose? Sorry. Let me dial it back.

 I’m Mike Birbiglia and I’m a comedian. You may know me from Comedy Central or This American Life or The Bob & Tom Show, but you’ve never seen me like this before.

Naked.

Wait, that’s the name of another book. Also I’m not naked as there are no pictures in my book. Also, if there were naked pictures of me, you definitely wouldn’t buy it, though you might sneak a copy into the back corner of the bookstore and show it to your friend and laugh. Okay, let’s get off the naked stuff.

This is my first book. It’s difficult to describe. It’s a comedic memoir, but I’m only 32 years old so I’d hate for you to think I’m “wrapping it up,” so to speak. But I tell some personal stories. Some REALLY personal stories. Stories that I considered not publishing time and time again, especially when my father said, “Michael, you might want to stay away from the per­sonal stuff.” I said, “Dad, just read the dedication.” (Which I’m telling you to do too. )

Some of the stories are about my childhood, some are about girls I made out with when I was thirteen, some are about my parents, and some are, of course, about my bouts with sleepwalking. Bring this book to bed. And sleepwalk with me.


 



Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
by Terry Tempest Williams
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.


 



The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder
by Erin Blakemore
The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder

An exploration of classic heroines and their equally admirable authors, The Heroine's Bookshelf shows today's women how to tap into their inner strengths and live life with intelligence and grace.

Jo March, Scarlett O'Hara, Scout Finch — the literary canon is brimming with intelligent, feisty, never-say-die heroines and celebrated female authors. Like today's women, they placed a premium on personality, spirituality, career, sisterhood, and family. When they were up against the wall, authors like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott fought back — sometimes with words, sometimes with gritty actions. In this witty, informative, and inspiring read, their stories offer much-needed literary intervention to modern women.

Full of beloved heroines and the remarkable writers who created them, The Heroine's Bookshelf explores how the pluck and dignity of literary characters such as Jane Eyre and Lizzy Bennet can encourage women today.

Each legendary character is paired with her central quality — Anne Shirley is associated with irrepressible "Happiness, " while Scarlett O'Hara personifies "Fight" — along with insights into her author's extraordinary life. From Zora Neale Hurston to Colette, Laura Ingalls Wilder to Charlotte Brontë, Harper Lee to Alice Walker, here are authors and characters whose spirited stories are more inspiring today than ever.


 



Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary
by David Sedaris, Ian Falconer
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.

In "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck, " three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. In "Hello Kitty, " a cynical feline struggles to sit through his prison-mandated AA meetings. In "The Squirrel and the Chipmunk, " a pair of star-crossed lovers is separated by prejudiced family members.

With original illustrations by Ian Falconer, author of the bestselling Olivia series of children's books, these stories are David Sedaris at his most observant, poignant, and surprising.


 



The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption
by Jim Gorant
The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

An inspiring story of survival and our powerful bond with man's best friend, in the aftermath of the nation's most notorious case of animal cruelty.

Animal lovers and sports fans were shocked when the story broke about NFL player Michael Vick's brutal dog fighting operation. But what became of the dozens of dogs who survived? As acclaimed writer Jim Gorant discovered, their story is the truly newsworthy aspect of this case. Expanding on Gorant's Sports Illustrated cover story, The Lost Dogs traces the effort to bring Vick to justice and turns the spotlight on these infamous pit bulls, which were saved from euthanasia by an outpouring of public appeals coupled with a court order that Vick pay nearly a million dollars in "restitution" to the dogs.

As an ASPCA-led team evaluated each one, they found a few hardened fighters, but many more lovable, friendly creatures desperate for compassion. In The Lost Dogs, we meet these amazing animals, a number of which are now living in loving homes, while some even work in therapy programs: Johnny Justice participates in Paws for Tales, which lets kids get comfortable with reading aloud by reading to dogs; Leo spends three hours a week with cancer patients and troubled teens. At the heart of the stories are the rescue workers who transformed the pups from victims of animal cruelty into healing caregivers themselves, unleashing priceless hope.

Includes an 8-page photo insert.

Watch a video


 



Half Empty
by David Rakoff
Half Empty

The inimitably witty David Rakoff, New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Get Too Comfortable, defends the commonsensical notion that you should always assume the worst, because you’ll never be disappointed.

In this deeply funny (and, no kidding, wise and poignant) book, Rakoff examines the realities of our sunny, gosh­ everyone-can-be-a-star contemporary culture and finds that, pretty much as a universal rule, the best is not yet to come, adversity will triumph, justice will not be served, and your dreams won’t come true.

The book ranges from the personal to the universal, combining stories from Rakoff’s reporting and accounts of his own experi­ences: the moment when being a tiny child no longer meant adults found him charming but instead meant other children found him a fun target; the perfect late evening in Manhattan when he was young and the city seemed to brim with such pos­sibility that the street shimmered in the moonlight — as he drew closer he realized the streets actually flickered with rats in a feeding frenzy. He also weaves in his usual brand Oscar Wilde–worthy cultural criticism (the tragedy of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, for instance).

Whether he’s lacerating the musical Rent for its cutesy depic­tion of AIDS or dealing with personal tragedy, his sharp obser­vations and humorist’s flair for the absurd will have you positively reveling in the power of negativity.


 



The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
by Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Kaufmann
The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs

Nietzsche called The Gay Science "the most personal of all my books." It was here that he first proclaimed the death of God — to which a large part of the book is devoted — and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence.

Walter Kaufmann's commentary, with its many quotations from previously untranslated letters, brings to life Nietzsche as a human being and illuminates his philosophy. The book contains some of Nietzsche's most sustained discussions of art and morality, knowledge and truth, the intellectual conscience and the origin of logic.

Most of the book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the last part five years later, after Beyond Good and Evil. We encounter Zarathustra in these pages as well as many of Nietzsche's most interesting philosophical ideas and the largest collection of his own poetry that he himself ever published.

Walter Kaufmann's English versions of Nietzsche represent one of the major translation enterprises of our time. He is the first philosopher to have translated Nietzsche's major works, and never before has a single translator given us so much of Nietzsche.


 



The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
by John Gardner
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

This classic guide, from the renowned novelist and professor, has helped transform generations of aspiring writers into masterful writers — and will continue to do so for many years to come.  
John Gardner was almost as famous as a teacher of creative writing as he was for his own works. In this practical, instructive handbook, based on the courses and seminars that he gave, he explains, simply and cogently, the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner’s lessons, exemplified with detailed excerpts from classic works of literature, sweep across a complete range of topics — from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence. Written with passion, precision, and a deep respect for the art of writing, Gardner’s book serves by turns as a critic, mentor, and friend. Anyone who has ever thought of taking the step from reader to writer should begin here.


 






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