There are times when the thought of committing to reading a novel or a work of narrative nonfiction can seem overwhelming. When the distractions of the day do not offer enough concentrated time to get through a longer work, we are fortunate to have a long history of superb essay writing to draw on. The best essayists distill the essence of their topic into a more easily approached form. Here are some of the writers that I go to when I am in need of a brief respite from daily cares. Most of the writers on this list have numerous titles to choose from. The ones listed here are suggested starting points.
- John McPhee — Giving Good Weight
- E.B. White — One Man’s Meat
- Michel de Montaigne — Essays
- Joseph Epstein — Narcissus Leaves the Pool
- Anne Fadiman — At Large and At Small
- George Orwell — Essays
- Michael Chabon — Maps and Legends
- Reynolds Price — A Common Room
- Wendell Berry — Standing by Words
- Ursula K. Le Guin — The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction
- Joseph Mitchell — Up in the Old Hotel
Other favorites? Add them in the comments below!