Personal Essays: Some of the best (with links)

3 Nov

The students in my “Opinion Writing” class this week discussed how to best write personal experience essays. And as is usually the case in my teaching, I taught how to write well by reading well-written pieces.

So, we discussed such essayists as Joan Didion and Anne Lamott; David Sedaris and Kurt Vonnegut. We read some of their best work out loud, and talked about what makes their essays so powerful. (Note: it includes things like a powerful story, relatable experiences, powerful emotions, lyrical words.)

In case you’d like to read some of these essays for yourself, check out the following links:

17 Personal Essays that will Change your Life (a fun Buzzfeed list)

‘The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan (a fabulous essay that started as Keegan’s Yale commencement address; it’s now part of an essay collection)

Bookmark this: Nora Ephron’s ‘A Few Words about Breasts’ (one of the iconic recent American essays, this is Ephron at her finest)

5 David Foster Wallace Essays you Should Read Before seeing The End of the Tour (GQ’s really good list of essential Wallace essays, published in advance of a recent movie on the writer)

David Sedaris in The New Yorker (Sedaris’ essay archives from The New Yorker)

Sex, drugs and superheroes: Our 10 best personal essays (Salon’s favorite essays of the last year are a good place to start)

E.B. White, The Art of the Essay No. 1 (The Paris Review’s interview with the late great essayist)

How to Write a Personal Essay (a really cool, useful guide from Utne Reader)



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