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Essays are small windows into a writer’s mind. They can be personal, but many times essays are the author’s commentary about the world around them. Concentrated in topic, but expansive in emotions these small entries can have a powerful punch. The well written essay can make you laugh out loud, wince in pain, squirm in embarrassment, or smile with recognition. The best linger with you long after you have read them.
Here are some of my favorite collections:

Lots of candles, plenty of cake by Anna Quindlen – While examining her own life, Quindlen brings her unique viewpoint to issues most women face — aging and mortality, becoming more comfortable with ourselves, stepping aside for the next generation. Her essays sparkle with style and grace as well as insight.

I feel bad about my neck : and other thoughts on being a woman by Nora Ephron – Known for her sweet, funny screenplays such as When Harry met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You Got Mail, Ephron has written a book full of the silly, wonderful, and not-so-wonderful thoughts that pass through the sharp witted scribe. The chatty breezy style makes for enjoyable reading about subjects such as how hair dye has revolutionized the perception of aging, or how to divorce your once-loved apartment.

I can’t complain : (all too) personal essays by Elinor Lipman – The word that comes to mind is …. quirky. Or maybe smart. Or charming. Or just plain outlandish. But the word that explains Lipman’s essays the best is intimate. She lets you in to her perspective on the world and you just never want to leave that funny, zany place.

What the dog saw and other adventures by Malcolm Gladwell – Complied from essays appearing in the New Yorker, Gladwell adroitly explores the vicissitudes of American life — from looking at the marketing genius of Ron Popeil to a new take on the homelessness problem. He not afraid of tackling complex subjects, like the financial card shuffle that lead up to the Enron collapse, but there is always the human interest story at the center of his writing.

My nest isn’t empty, it just has more closet space : the amazing adventures of an ordinary woman by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Scottoline Serritella – Inspired by their weekly column “Chick Wit”
for the Phildelphia Inquirer, this author mother and her daughter tag-team their way through their dates, diets and dogs (as well as a couple of cats.) You can find Lisa’s perspective of having an adult daughter who doesn’t want her help, just her company or Francesca realizing that she may have lost data when her computer crashes, but not the really important things in her life. This book is like a conversation with your girlfriend over a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream — fun and delish!

Helen Freeman

Helen Freeman is the Technical Services librarian.