1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:

http://contemporarylit.about.com/od/essay/

was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Creative Nonfiction

True stories and narrative craft in the short form comprise these collections of creative essays, the like of which range from McSweeney's to New Yorkeresque and beyond.

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes
In Levels of Life, Julian Barnes, winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, writes about grief and solitude, photography and hot air ballooning, loving and losing.

The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen
The Kraus Project is an inspiring introduction to the Austrian satirist Karl Kraus translated and annotated by Jonathan Franzen.

Gun Guys: A Road Trip by Dan Baum
Dan Baum is a liberal journalist who makes his home in Boulder, Colorado, and he's a gun fanatic, In Gun Guys, he explores both sides of the complex and combative issue of gun control in a way that is balanced and frequently funny.

Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace
Both Flesh and Not is a mixed bag of posthumous collection of previously uncollected essays, book reviews and notes from David Foster Wallace.

Things That Are by Amy Leach
A slim collection of nonfiction essays in which Amy Leach turns a playful and poetic lens on the natural world. Leach's writing and Nate Christopherson's accompanying pen and ink drawings are delightful.

Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries
Journalist, satirist, documentarian Jon Ronson takes readers with him in his gonzo exploration of the weirder side of life in Lost at Sea, a collection of previously published articles in which, with signature wit, he explores the fringes of culture.

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson
The ten essays in When I Was a Child I Read Books, Marilynne Robinson's collection of on matters of faith, will challenge and provoke readers to think beyond simple answers.

New Ways To Kill Your Mother by Colm Toibin
New Ways to Kill Your Mother asks a lot of its readers, but the book is not entirely out of reach to the lesser well-read. Those who are familiar with all of the writers Toibin discusses will surely be the most receptive audience, but Toibin does his best not to exclude those with a more casual library.

Life Sentences by William H. Gass
Essays from award winning essayist, novelist, and literary critic William Gas, in which he once again shows the various perspectives at which he can aproach the topics of reading, writing, and thought.

Zona by Geoff Dyer
A sprawling work caught between an essay, a novelization of a film, and a cinephile's diary, Zona is Geoff Dyer's celebration of Andrei Tarkovsky's under-appreciated film Stalker.

Distrust that Particular Flavor by William Gibson
Distrust that Particular Flavor is collects cyberpunk novelist William Gibson's essays, articles, talks, and various other nonfiction writings spanning 30 years across widely varying publications.

Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolano
In Between Parentheses - essays, articles, and speeches that Roberto Bolano wrote from 1998 to 2003, during the last five years of his life - the reader learns more about Roberto Bolano than any of the ostensible subjects about which the acclaimed Chilean novelist and poet writes.

Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea Handler, her friends, family,...
Chelsea Handler is the star of her own late-night talk show on E!, Chelsea Lately, and E!’s comedy series, After Lately. Chelsea Handler is still behaving badly — but mostly in good fun.

The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux
The Tao of Travel at one sitting is not a book that requires a straight-through read. Rather, one should skip about as one fancies, picking plums hither and yon. The subtitle is "Enlightenments from Lives on the Road" and there are many enlightening pieces within.

Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir by Ander Monson
Beyond its wildly captivating surface elements, the essays in Vanishing Point all return to themes of writerly ownership and its limitations. Vanishing Point attempts to find functionality in memoir without narration, all while searching for the appropriate place to situate that extracted "I." Ander Monson attempts to pull himself out of his own...

The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann
In The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, David Grann collects twelve previously published articles of murder, mystery and obsession.

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
The essays in novelist Zadie Smith's Changing My Mind come together like a patchwork quilt: a pattern of beauty runs throughout this collection, but the individual pieces are cut in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount Jr
Humorist Roy Blount Jr. collects a compendium of words alphabetically to explore their origins, spellings, pronunciations,and various other aspects in as unique and funny a writer's reference book imaginable.

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America
In homage to the WPA books of the 1930's, 'State by State,' features 50 personal essays on 50 states by 50 writers.

Essays by Wallace Shawn
Essays is an eclectic collection of the hyper-talented playwright's musings, interviews, and serious exposition on politics, social responsibility, and the power and excitement of the theatre.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
A collection of essays that David Foster Wallace wrote for various publications during the early 1990's. It's a mixed bag of compositions, two of which are absolute must-reads.

The Best American Travel Writing 2009
The Best American Travel Writing 2009 takes us to places we'll never see (and may never have heard of). The authors of these essays are masters of bringing the world into our imaginations, inspiring journeys by cleaving faithfully to the writing teacher's admonition to show, not tell.

The Best American Sports Writing 2009
The foreword and introduction of a book are usually things to be glanced at, gotten through as quickly as possible on the way to the "good stuff." Here, the "good stuff" begins in the foreword, continues into the introduction, and comes to fruition in the double-dozen stories that comprise the meat of The Best American Sports Writing 2009.

The Best American Essays 2008
A wide choice of essays from authors both well known and unknown. The good in this collection is really good.

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008
Innovative reportage that spans the subjects of biotechnology, linguistics, zoology, and cosmology, among others.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008
Featuring fiction, nonfiction, journalism, comics, and humor, The Best American Nonrequired Reading is doubtlessly the most eclectic of Houghton Mifflin's Best American series.

The Best American Sports Writing 2008
Not merely about sports, these pieces are about the sports figures they catalogue, people with their foibles and finery laid bare.

I Was Told There¹d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Fifteen essays ranging from childhood to present, some with coming-of-age themes, others about making transitions and embracing change, many about the ways in which we discover our own identities.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
David Sedaris' latest collection exhibits, although in fits and starts, some of the same cleverly self-deprecating humor that I've become accustomed to reading from this hilarious author.

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
'Maps and Legends' is a slim romp through Michael Chabon's love of genre fiction whose high points emerge when the author gets personal, describing how he came to write.

Ultimate Blogs edited by Sarah Boxer
New York Times journalist Sarah Boxer recommends 27 masterpiece blogs in her book.

Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer
Geoff Dyer is a man who "lives in London where he spends much of his time wishing he lived in San Francisco." That's exactly the feeling of restlessness one gets from Dyer's collection of travel essays.

Psychogeography by Will Self
This fantastic collection of 55 essays is culled from British author Will Self's eponymous "Independent" column and is themed around an intimate acquaintance between Self and his environs.

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
From Stephen Colbert, the host of television's highest-rated punditry show The Colbert Report, comes the book to fill the other 23½ hours of your day.

Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs
Possible Side Effects explores the concept of cause and effect. It is a cautionary tale in essay form. Be forewarned and read the label: hilarious, troubling, and shocking results might occur.

A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut
A Man Without a Country is Kurt Vonnegut’s hilariously funny and razor-sharp look at life, art, politics, and the condition of the soul of America today.

Life Interrupted, The Unfinished Monologue by Spalding Gray
Spalding Gray, America's captivating teller of angst-filled stories, ended his life in 2004, after two gruesome years of suicidal depression...

The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers
This book is a collection of conversations between writers and their "mentors," taken from the pages of The Believer, along with previously unpublished conversations.

On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
Frankfurt explores in short order (67 pages) how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin
George Carlin's irreverent jabs at everything are best appreciated as an audio book, read by the author.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
Sarah Vowell, known for her journalistic contributions to PRI's This American Life, travels through the American past and, in doing so, investigates the roads of her own life.

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
Amy Tan has touched millions of readers. With the same spirit and humor that characterize her acclaimed novels, she now shares her insight into her own life and how she escaped the curses of her past to make a future of her own.

Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans
Irreverent, eclectic, and really really funny, the selections in this book range from jokes to plays and back to essays and interviews. It is not easily classifiable.

Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch by Hollis Gillespie
Hollis Gillespie recounts and celebrates a childhood that others might soon forget, and adulthood friends who would be impossible to fabricate. Funny!

The Funny Thing Is... by Ellen DeGeneres
Why did a successful, busy television personality choose to write yet another book? She says, "I'd rather write a book than read a book. It's like reading, only you get paid for it."

Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
David Sedaris' Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim, another collection of essays based on the diary he has kept every day for some thirty-odd years. While most of these stories have seen print already in Esquire, GQ and the New Yorker, Sedaris' work is so contained and addictive, you can't eat just one.

Naked: Writers Uncover the Way We Live on Earth
Naked brings together thirty-one pieces by writers who examine and challenge the way people live with our environment. Edward Abbey's correspondence rants against passive nonresistance. Stacey Richter mines the questionable legacy of John James Audubon, Bruce Chatwin makes a case for nomadism and T. C. Boyle suggests we are all wild at heart, and not particularly well-groomed.

Global Village Idiot by John O’Farrell
John O’Farrell is a columnist with the Guardian as well as a writer for the TV show Spitting Image and a joke writer for Tony Blair. Global Village Idiot is a reprinting of many of his Guardian columns over the period of time beginning with George W. Bush on the campaign trail and ending on the desert trails leading to Baghdad.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs reminds me of a drunken night out with friends discussing the parallels between Three's Company and the bible or recounting childhood rules of kickball or other such topics that occupy the minds of the over-educated, under-challenged class.

Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin
In "Feeding a Yen," Calvin Trillin's most recent collection of food essays, we tag along as he seeks out such delicacies as pimientos de Padron in Spain, pan bagnat in Nice and boudin in Louisiana. These are foods that comprise Trillin's "Register of Frustration and Deprivation"...

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Upon reading only a couple of the essays collected in "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," I knew two things immediately: her voice is one of an unbiased observer who doesn't judge, but merely collects people, places, events, information and structures them so that they are compellingly readable. Secondly, Joan Did ion's prose is some of the most artfully arranged I have ever read.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 by Dave Eggers
The latest edition to Houghton Mifflin's Best American Series, "The Best American Nonrequired Reading" flaunts Dave Eggers as its editor, whose bestselling memoir, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," which in 2000 turned him into an overnight pop-cultural icon.

Jenkins at the Majors
Dan Jenkins' felicity with words may be equal to the inimitable Herbert Warren Wind, the platinum standard for every golf writer who wielded a pen. His knowledge of golf is equal though of a more recent vintage, one that spans the last 60 years, and Jenkins does Wind one better in his unparalleled ability to bring a sense of humor and comparison to a very serious sport.

Journalism by Joe Sacco
Joe Sacco delivers a definitive collection of short-form comics journalism that includes war reportage from Iraq, documentation of India's untouchables, and more.

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.