Maybe you already love reading essays or short stories. Perfect: this Summer Book Bingo square is a freebie. But let’s assume this square gives you some pause. Maybe the term “essay” reminds you of those horrible things you were supposed to write in school, or “short stories” calls to mind unappetizing literary dissections in Language Arts class. No worries; we’ve got you covered!
While perusing The New Yorker website a while ago, I came across a piece on the nature of the American essay by Vinson Cunningham. Cunningham argues that what makes an essay uniquely American is its sermonizing nature – the way there is always an argument being put forth for the reader to consider and be converted to. Cunningham traces this quality back to America’s most famous essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s an interesting assertion, although there are certainly many molds for the contemporary essay. Following is a consideration of several recent essay collections by American authors. You can find these collections as well as others, here as a list in Seattle Public Library’s catalog.
This summer The Seattle Public Library, in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures, is excited to offer a summer reading program for adults called Summer Book Bingo! In order to help you along on your quest to complete your bingo sheet, we have pulled together some book suggestions based on each category. Follow this series throughout the summer!
Welcome to the nonfiction edition of the Summer Book Bingo category Collection of short stories – essays! Essay collections share the same versatility as short story collections: you can sit down and read several in a row, or read a single essay and go do something else without worrying about remembering the thread of facts. The topics, of course, range from personal essays, to humor, to factual domains like science or history. Here are just a few to get you started: Continue reading “Book Bingo: Short Stories II: Essays”
One of my favorite books in our poetry section isn’t a book of poetry at all. Richard Hugo’s The Triggering Town gathers nine brief lectures, essays and “sentimental reminiscences” by the beloved Seattle writer. I’m not a poet and I don’t plan to become one, but Hugo’s ideas are so wise and clear, and his humor and candor are so appealing that I suspect a lot of readers will enjoy this. Writers certainly will find plenty to think about here, and will jot down many of Hugo’s rules of thumb, such as “Use number 2 pencils … Don’t erase. Cross out rapidly and violently, never with slow consideration if you can help it.” Or “Use ‘love’ as a transitive verb for the first fifteen years.” Come to think of it, that last one is good advice for non-writers too. There is some great pragmatic discussion of being an artist in the material world (Hugo worked for Boeing for many years) and interesting local touches (for more see Hugo’s autobiography, The Real West Marginal Way, and the documentary film Richard Hugo: Kicking the Loose Gravel Home.) The wonderful chapter about Theodore Roethke, who taught Hugo at U.W. back in the 1940s, may leave you wanting more, and Straw for the Fire, fellow student David Wagoner’s recent collection from Roethke’s own notebooks, fits the bill perfectly.