The Best American Essays 2014 will be released next week. The publisher has also posted a list of the nominations online — we looked through them and picked out ten of the very best:

Joy by Zadie Smith
Thanksgiving in Mongolia by Ariel Levy
Seeing the Speed of Sound by Rachel Kolb
What Lies Beneath by William Langewiesche
Forty Thoughts on a Fourth Daughter by Mark Oppenheimer
The Old Man at Burning Man by Wells Tower
Wildcatting by Susan Elizabeth Shephard
The Ghost Writes Back by Amy Boesky
The Devil’s Bait By Leslie Jamison
Company Man by David Sedaris


A fantastic selection of essays for the next time you’re in that nonfiction mood. 


29 September. At one time I used to think: Nothing will destroy you, not this tough, clear empty head.
written by Franz Kafka, Diaries  (via kafkaesque-world)

(via dolorimeter)

Read Better, Read Faster
Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death

“I loved the idea that looking at a painting or listening to a concerto could make you somehow “transcend” the day-in, day-out bullshit that grinds you down: how in one instant of pure attention you could draw something inside that made you forever larger.”—Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club
You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
written by From Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules of Writing, via Brainpickings

(Source: bostonpoetryslam)

Oh, you, you think you’re pretty smart because you play the cynic. But malice can also be blinding.
written by Simone de Beauvoir, from The Mandarins

(Source: violentwavesofemotion)

Drink my soul, as if with a straw
I know it’s bitter, intoxicating taste.
written by Anna Akhmatova, from Drink My Soul, As If With A Straw

(Source: violentwavesofemotion)


Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Kurt Vonnegut: 16 Rules For Writing Fiction
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
9. Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about.
10. Do not ramble.
11. Keep it simple. Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred.
12. Have guts to cut. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.
13. Sound like yourself. The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child.
14. Say what you mean. You should avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing, if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.
15. Pity the readers. Our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists.
16. You choose. The most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.
Camerado, this is no book,
Who touches this touches a man,
(Is it night? are we here together alone?)
It is I you hold and who holds you,
I spring from the pages into your arms—decease calls me forth.
written by Walt Whitman, from “So Long!” Leaves of Grass (1891 edition)

(Source: apoetreflects)

 Doctor Zhivago