His opinions, insights and deconstruction of other writers and literary works are also pretty eye opening, even though I come from a hard sciences background, if only to understand what someone so ridiculously well read has to say about those things. His general musings on life, modernity and culture are also pretty great.
The best place to start (in my opinion) is with This is Water, his commencement address to the incoming class at Kenyon College back in 2005:
It's a great read, but it's even more enjoyable listening to him deliver it:
He wrote a long-essay for Harper's on the experience of traveling on a cruise ship. You can find a free pdf of it doing a google search for "On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise".
I highly recommend that essay.
The link to the free pdf is the first search result in the query above.
Pale King might be a bit of a different beast. The focus on the IRS is somewhat particular, and you may miss big beats because of ignorance about the IRS. But at the same time, some of the accounting minutiae are such that I don't think you're expected to understand them.
Anyway! I wouldn't let this steer you away. To me, the joy of DFWs writing is the individual sentences. The mannerisms and humanity of the characters. If you miss some details because they're US focused, I don't think it'll be anything important.
This happens a lot in one of my favourite DFW essays, E Pluribus Unum, which although a little dated, still does a great job of illustrating the impacts of "self-aware" media consumption, and how it affects the richness (or lack thereof) of culture.
I tried to complete my essay by using great essayists examples and also by helping https://gpalabs.com/coursework-writing.html That is good combination for me because it is much more easier to do it in such way.
I would like to get new essay example of Hawking, is someone can share it please, i would be thankfull
I've written about homelessness in the Bible Belt- a supremely taboo topic; and I've observed commonalities between the ideals of Pope Francis' detractors within Roman-Catholicism and that of Positive Christianity- the denomination literally begat by the Nazis. I draw more parallels than conclusions, but having gone to a school without a debate program I feel obligated to define as many left-field arguments as I can, for posterity or for poops and giggles.
What's your favorite book of science essays?
Ultimate Questions by Bryan Magee (more philosophy of knowledge than science per se).
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.
The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski are not essays, but it is one of the finest writings on science I've read.
The Art of Doing Science and Engineering by Richard W. Hamming
Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson
I can't not help mention The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, which is fiction, but hear me out - it melds natural philosophy, alchemy, maths, history, Newton, Leibniz, The Sun King, British parliament, colonialism, slavery, Egypt, India, war, finance, commerce, revenge, satire and so much more. I've learnt more about the origins of the Royal Society and the early days of modern science from these three books than anywhere else.
Virginia Woolf, as an example, was a superb essayist.
In addition to many other interesting subjects, the book asks the question, “are all these dead white men really that important to study the work of?”
Spoiler: he says yes, but the pantheon of great works must be expanded to include those of equal merit previously ignored. Virginia Woolf is one of those he puts on that pedestal with Homer, Virgil, and all the rest.
Coincidentally, there's another HN post right now about another female, and black, essayist I adore: bell hooks.
One of the cruxes being that opinions matter and the reinforcements culture (such as the compilations of widely shared lists like these) provides sustains their exclusion.
I'd give it a look, it's not preachy and it's thoroughly entertaining.
Here's an example from my life. Many years ago, I was a music student. Part of being a music student means taking theory and history. We learned about all of the Western Classical composers, and I remember learning, very briefly, about Clara Schumann. She was taught as a footnote, as the object of desire of Robert Schumann, Brahms, and others. I never knew, until recently, what a gifted and talented composer she was. Her compositions, imo, stand at the same level as her male contemporaries.
- The Wreck of Time - Annie Dillard
- Death of a Moth - Virginia Woolf
- A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf
- The Study of the Negro Problems - W.E.B. DuBois
- On Going Home - Joan Didion
- In History - Jamaica Kincaid
- Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema - Laura Mulvey
- How It Feels to be Colored Me - Zora Neale Hurston
- Memory and Imagination - Patricia Hampl
- Anger and Tenderness - Adrienne Rich
- In Plato's Cave - Susan Sontag
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami
- The Laugh of the Medusa - Hélène Cixous
Here is my favorite, On The Shortness of Life:
1) Bertrand Russell. Read "The Conquest of Happiness" and you shall never know unhappiness.
2) Henry David Thoreau. Read "Walden"
These two chaps have a tranquillizing effect on me.
Could you mention some particular essays that would be at the top of your list? Thanks.
Johnson of the Lives, is much, different, much more lively than the Johnson of the Rambler, esp his sense of humor is on full display. I greatly recommend the "Life of Savage" and "Life of Addison" from the lives.
I think Macaulay is exceptional, his essays like "Warren Hastings", "Samuel Johnson" (Which he wrote for Encyclopedia Britannica), "Ranke's History of the Pope's", etc are such stunning works, the reader shall find it very difficult to put them down once they start.
Btw I don't think Goodjoke's comment deserved to get killed off, but I will dare to say to Goodjoke that maybe "a little more carrot and less stick" is in order: what's the best essay of the group of authors you mentioned?
The fact that the original list is (almost?) all white men is the kind of thing (like all male panels) which will attract negative attention these days. There are people on HN who think conceptualizing diversity on the basis of gender or ethnicity is a dangerous distraction from what they claim is the really important form of diversity, which is intellectual diversity. It's that kind of Thielian position that GoodJokes is challenging, quite rightly.
I basically built it exactly for these sorts of reasons I found that I had all this dead time. On my commutes and in between running errands, or biking, and I wanted to maximize my learning and staying informed.
> uses some beautiful sounding Machine Learning AI models to convert articles to Audio
+1 to the sibling comment. I downloaded the app because I happen to be in a great mood, but if I wasn’t I probably would have left without signing up if there wasn’t an audio sample.
Could you (or jonjacky or someone else) mention some particular essays, from those writers or others, you would rate most highly? Thanks. Then you might help get people reading them. (The ones in my list I consider, not just good, but incredibly good, endlessly re-readable.)
I put a huge collection of my favourite quotes/bits from my readings online here. (with reliable sources, I hope, please let me know if any are fake/wrongly attributed)
This list (especially the top 3/4) are essays that I've read many times and loved and lived with. Some writers (e.g. Emerson, Hazlitt, Chesterton, Stevenson, James, Mencken, Russell) have so many essays I love and have read many times that it's hard to single out just one. It's been more like living with them than 'reading' them. With them (and most of all, Emerson), even trying to single out one or a few essays would be strange, like trying to pick a favourite Miles Davis album - there are dozens; it's the air I breathe, it's who I am.
Yes, I toyed with removing the "Great" from the headings (also I have pages on great musicians, great writers etc). But what the hell, that's what the word means I suppose, "things I think are great". I do believe that "instead of there being no disputing about tastes, they are the one thing worth disputing about".
I was surprised that so many comments are like "Why aren't there women/non-white/etc' people on the list. I don't know. They're also concentrated in a certain time period (see timeline diagram on this page ), no-one complained about that. I seem to feel more at home with 19th C writers! (also 16-17th C e.g. La Bruyere, and ancient stuff e.g. Plutarch) I'm white and male, I don't know if those writers resonated more with me for that reason; I guess that had something to do with it. Most of what I came across wasn't by female or non-Anglo writers, I think.
I don't care what someone's sex, colour, country, sexuality etc is, in art, music, writing or anything. To expect or insist on proportional representation of each sub-section of humanity in someone's list of their favourites - or even a list of the greatest, the classics - seems to utterly miss the point. Why focus on the creator, not their creation? If some superior works aren't read for whatever reason, ok great, bringing them to attention is a very worthy task. But to insist they be read because they're female, black or whatever, which people sometimes seem to be doing, seems misguided to me. It would be strange, for example, if someone suggest I should listen to more white or female musicians. They just say "Listen to this!" if they'd heard something they love, and if I love it too, I'll keep listening, and seek out more of their work.
I was reading about "the essay canon" recently. There was a paper that analysed the school essay readers and found that only one writer was added to the essay canon in the 1990s - Deborah Tannen: chapters from You Just Don't Understand. It so happens that I've been a huge fan of that book for decades, recommend it to everyone, have lent the book to many people, rarely go a week in life without understanding something in life better with some insight I learnt from it (or her previous book That's Not What I Meant!). I just don't think of it as an essay.
Same with SARK, probably the female writer dearest to me, who was a close companion and friend, particularly when I was in my 20s. I've read and re-read her first 1/2 dozen books countless times. I lived with, by and from them. Plus they're colourful, hand-written and hand-drawn, and in that way superior to any other books I know of.
re Virginia Woolf: I read a lot of her essays decades ago, and while I really liked them, I haven't returned since.
Some feminist street cred: Harriet Martineau's wiki page says "Martineau wrote many books". Before I changed that a couple of years ago, it said, bizarrely, that she wrote only one book. On Emerson's wiki page, first in the list of influences in the sidebar is his aunt (and, effectively, father) Mary Moody Emerson. She wasn't even on there until I added her recently. I only recently learned about what an overwhelmingly huge influence she was on him - he's in many ways her project, her creation - his voice is recognizably hers, speaking through him.
 My "great musicians" list http://www.adamponting.com/great-musicians/ is overwhelmingly black, and my "youtube favourites" http://www.adamponting.com/youtube-favourites/ are overwhelmingly black and female. I'm not sure why!
Maggie Nelson (more prose)