In lieu of me releasing my essay collection in a week, I thought it would make sense to recommend some of my favorite essay collections that I’ve read. If you’re a fan of essay collections, the ones listed here should be on your list to read if you haven’t read them already. And even if you don’t like essay collections, these books should do the trick and put you onto them.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Fire Next Time is the quintessential essay collection. Most people have read this collection, even if they have never read another essay collection. You don’t need me to tell you what The Fire Next Time is great. It touches heavily on race issues in America in the 1960s, but as you read it, Baldwin’s reflections feel like something that could have been written about today’s America. Read it, if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.
We Were Eight Years In Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Another essay collection that speaks on the topic of race. This time during the Obama presidency. If you were left dumbfounded by the events of the 2016 election like I was, this collection will shed some light on how the results of the election were able to happen and how it probably shouldn’t have been as shocking as it was. Coates is a terrific writer as he tackles each year of Obama’s tenure through an essay. It’s a thought-provoking collection that has to be read to fully absorb its message.
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
In Bad Feminist, Gay tackles the current state of feminism by expressing her feelings and experiences with it as well as highlighting how it is used in pop culture. Roxanne Gay is one of my favorite writers. I have connected with everything she has written and Bad Feminist is no different. I love how she is able to write with the intention to inform her audience about something while also managing to make it entertaining and not a chore to read. The essays in the collection range from funny to heartbreaking. But they are all powerful and worth reading.
My Body by Emily Ratajkowski
The most recent book on this list that I’ve read. When I put My Body on a whim, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. Ratajkowski is a famous model, most widely known for appearing in the controversial Blurred Lines music video with Robin Thicke. This is her first essay collection and it is incredible. Ratajkowski’s essays talk about the commodification of women in the modeling industry, the culture’s fetishization of girls and female beauty, its obsession with and contempt for women’s sexuality, the perverse dynamics of the fashion and film industries, and the gray area between consent and abuse. It’s an engaging read even if you’re not familiar with Ratajkowski. One of the best books you’ll ever read from a celebrity. A low bar to clear. But it’s more of a testament to how talented of a writer Ratajkowski is.