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Excellent Personal Essays

April 22, 2019

As you have probably guessed, I read an incredible amount of young adult fiction and classic literature. But did you know personal essays are in my top 3 favorite genres? Check out some of my favorite writers.

The personal essay, in my opinion, has a bad rap. It was the writing prompt and assignment we wished would go away. There were many times in grade school I remember being hunched over a blank page, thinking, "My life is not that interesting - why am I doing this?" But here's the secret: you don't need an extrordinary life to write an amazing personal essay. In fact, the more mundane parts of life shine best in an essay. I know I've talked about how much I love David Sedaris, but here are a few other essayists who really have a way with words.

Lindy West

I've never laughed so hard in my life as when Lindy West penned the essay "Are You There, Margaret? It's Me, a Person Who Is Not a Complete Freak." Her humor feels like it was written for me, with BIG CAPTIAL STATEMENTS and Guy Fieri jokes. West is a force of nature and her writing is funny, sincere, and bold. I will go from crying to laughing in the same paragraph, and I love that. I highly recommend her book Shrill, which has been turned into a TV series. She also has her first work of fiction coming out soon called The Witches are Coming.

Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson's book Furiously Happy is one of the few books that I have bought after reading it just so I can flip through it from time to time. Lawson goes from explaining her struggles with mental illness and depression to crazy joyful moments that elicit belly laughs. Her theory is to make the sparse happy moments you have the absolute happiest they can be. I think that's sound advice. Her other book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, is also worth a read.

Mira Jacob

I'll be honest, I'm a sucker for a graphic memior, and Mira Jacob's new book Good Talk is one of the best. Her art style isn't something I've seen before, as it has photo backgrounds with drawings of Jacob and her family. And since the stories center around her son asking questions, the medium allows Jacob to write beautifully and quickly. This is a book you can devour in a sitting or two, and it will leave you wanting more.



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Emily is the Branch Services Specialist at the Main Library. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and playing with her dog, Fern.


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