10 Fun-to-Read Essay Collections

If you’re taking out 2016 Reading Challenge, you may have noticed that one of the requirements is to read a collection of essays. We’ve read a little chatter on social media that suggests a few are stumped by this one and looking for suggestions. To those unfamiliar with the literary or personal essay, the word essay probably brings to mind a lot of boring school work. However, these books are sure to banish any thoughts of boredom and have you searching for even more vibrant, interesting, hilarious, moving and insightful collections of nonfiction.

1. Naked by David Sedaris


Sedaris is one of the most popular essayist of our time. His collections of personal essays are use to make readers laugh. Naked is one of his earliest works full of strange, outrageous and unbelievably funny stories. Get a copy.

2. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott


The book of thoughts on faith does come with easy answers or cliche platitudes. Lamott writes a real, personal account of her coming to faith that will appeal to everyone, whether they consider themselves people of faith or not. Get a copy.

3. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith


Smith divides this book into four section: reading, seeing, being and feeling. She covers a wide range of topics including feminism, literature, family and celebrities. Get a copy.

4. Bossypants by Tina Fey


From growing up to learning improv to working at SNL to playing Sarah Palin to being a parent, Fey writes witty, beautiful essays about her life, her career and the people she loves. Get a copy.

5. Stranger Than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk


Known for his gritty fiction and often disturbing content, Palahniuk doesn’t shy away from the bizarre. In Stranger Than Fiction (also known by it’s new title, Nonfiction), Palahniuk gives readers a glimpse into some of the real-life stories that have inspired and influenced his work. Get a copy.

6. Lost Japan by Alex Kerr


Originally written in Japanese, Lost Japan is the first book written by a non-Japanese writer to win Japan’s Shincho Gakugei Literature Prize. Kerr explores Japan’s history, which is quickly vanishing amidst Japan’s modern culture. He also explores his experiences living and working in Japan. Get a copy.

7. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou


Angelou assembled these essays full of advice, insight and notes from her journey for the many women who looked to her as a mother figure. Get a copy.

8. I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron


The writer and director behind beloved films such as You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally, Ephron has always had sharp wit and sharper observations. I Remember Nothing takes a hilarious look at many aspects of life, especially life for women of a certain age. Get a copy.

9. French Lessons by Peter Mayle


Exploring different foods and events in France, Mayle tours France through it’s cuisine. Get a copy.

10. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion


In this collection of essays, Didion captures American life in the 1960s. Get a copy.

A few more classic essay collections:


A Modern Proposal and Other Writings by Jonathan Swift
Get a copy.






The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Get a copy.







Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Get a copy.





The Common Reader by Virgina Woolf
Get a copy.

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