We asked the people behind the excellent Bookriot.com to pick their favourite articles and essays for us. This is what they chose:
Roger Ebert: The Essential Man by Chris Jones — Jones is one of my favorite contemporary journalists. He writes spot-on profiles, and this generous, funny, and sad piece about Roger Ebert from 2010 never fails to make me cry. (Kim Ukura)
What Broke My Father’s Heart by Katy Butler — The decision about how to live the last part of our lives is a difficult one, made even more complicated by the advances in medical science and the monetary incentives in place in our medical system. In this piece Katy Butler looks at the different ways her parents died and how her father became a victim of a system that was supposed to help him. (Kim Ukura)
The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything by Linda Holmes — There is a lot of intellectual, artistic stuff produced every day. Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about how much of it I am going to miss. When that happens, I revisit this essay and it usually makes me feel better. (Kim Ukura)
SpongeBob’s Golden Dream by James Parker — Almost four years after I first read it, this essay remains my touchstone for the best kind of topical-yet-oracular cultural criticism. Taking “SpongeBob SquarePants” seriously, James Parker reads SpongeBob himself as a moral beacon of postmodern capitalism. It stings, and I smile. (Derek Attig)
Watch This Man by Pankaj Mishra — My favorite book review. The pleasure of “Watch This Man” is the pleasure of seeing a sharp mind dispassionately and patiently dismantling a popular thinker’s popular thoughts. Essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra takes on Niall Ferguson’s oeuvre, and his neomperialism, with wry aplomb. An extra delight is that, in this online version, you can also read a back-and-forth between Mishra and Ferguson that followed the original publication. (Derek Attig)
Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu by John Updike — In his final game with the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams - the greatest hitter who ever lived, aged 41 - lived up to the mythical image he had earned after more than twenty seasons in the Majors. John Updike was there and wrote this ode to Teddy Ballgame, the best piece of sports writing and one of the best essays I’ve ever encountered.
Mother Earth, Mother Board by Neal Stephenson — in 1993, cyberpunk author Neal Stephenson went world-traveling as a “hacker tourist,” to look at the massive cables laid across continents, forming the very physical and very literal backbone of the digital world. The article is fascinating not only for his exploration of different continents, but because it’s a look at the physical aspect of the internet, which we often forget about. And as an added feature, the article is now twenty years old, which makes it nearly an artifact all by itself. (Peter Damien)
Politics and The English Language by George Orwell — A classic screed against bad writing. As relevant today as it was in 1946, the essay combines Orwell’s unparalleled bullshit detector with his desire to write as forthrightly as he can. (Jeff O’Neal)
Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell — Agree or not, there’s no denying that this 1927 lecture is a masterful piece of writing. Logical and passionate, this is Bertrand Russell at his finest: “We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world — its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it.” (Derek Attig)
Cookbooks by Anthony Lane — No matter the mental weather, this essay on cookbooks — their frights and foibles — can reduce you to a giggling, quivering jelly. Jelly tied securely with a single chive. (Jennifer Paull)
Unflowered Aloes by Tom Bissell — We like to think that the books that are published get published because they are the very best books publishers had to choose from, and that the books that become renowned and widely sold are renowned and widely sold because they have the most literary value. But that’s not always the case. There’s a lot of luck and a lot of randomness involved, and Tom Bissell explores those elements in this piece, subtitled “Why literary success is a product of chance, not destiny.” (Rebecca Joines Schinsky)
For some of the internet’s best writing about books and reading, great literary links, and stunning reading lists go to Bookriot.com. And if you want to read something amazing but don’t know where to start, why not read your way into 25 amazing authors with their latest kickstarter project, Start Here.