Explore essays and memoir
Best Book of 1766: Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling
Dave Haysom on why Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling is the best book of 1766.
Best Book of 1967: Ice by Anna Kavan
‘What a writer, and what a vision. What a perfect book to read in preparation for the end of the world.’
Best book of 1947: L’Écume des Jours by Boris Vian
‘In those spring nights, I sat by barbecue stalls in the streets of Beijing, reading this novel under dim streetlights while eating lamb skewers.’
Words and the Word
Miranda France on how C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot redrafted the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
Best Book of 1993: Written on the Body
‘Influences imprint themselves on our consciousness as light does a photograph, or trauma the psyche’
The Binoculars of Jah
‘No matter how I attempted to interpret the email, it could only be read in one way: I was out of the Bunny Wailer club. Jah Bunny had put a curse on me.’
The Sufferings of this Present Time Are Not Worthy to Be Compared With the Glory Which Shall Be Revealed in Us
‘Every sect needs jargon. We did not have churches, we had halls; services were called meetings; the congregation was the assembly; elders were overseers’
Teaching After Trump
‘In a country whose government we do not trust, who do we need more than writers and teachers? And what is more powerful than an inspired youth?’
The Day After Trump Won
‘I feel afraid, and I do not know what to make of yesterday’s belief. I can see that belief like an object shimmering underwater, a kind of relic.’
‘They knelt at my feet. They crawled naked across gleaming wooden floors.’
Crocodiles and Fairy Dust
‘I admit the sneaking feeling, just now and then, that those who govern us think we’re the problem.’
The Price of Freedom, Including VAT
‘I had lost my native country, now I was going to lose a continent.’
Raqqa Road: A Syrian Escape
‘The morning Helin walked out to die, she dressed carelessly in a loose T-shirt and jeans.’
Blue Hills and Chalk Bones
‘One day, something changes; a corporeal blip. For me, it happened in the months after turning thirteen: the synovial fluid in my left hip began to evaporate like rain.’
On Shakespeare and the Quest for Belonging
‘We may not belong to Shakespeare, nor he to us, ever.’
The Mask of Night
‘I puzzled over the language but disentangled its meaning slowly, carefully, eager to connect’ Lorna Gibb on Shakespeare’s Juliet.
To Thine Own Self Be True
‘If Shakespeare’s characters stand for anything, it’s for a slipperiness of identity.’ David Flusfeder on a dog named Shakespeare.
‘It is to Shakespeare’s pages I return whenever I feel I am sinking. There I can be sure to find a lifeline.’
‘Now we’ve fizzled into a ridiculous unsaid, a flaccid tale of love, or lack thereof, in the time of Ebola.’
First Sentence: Eliza Griswold
‘This, of course, was years before anyone knew or cared who Boko Haram was.’
From The Revenant through Jurassic Park and Godzilla, Darrell Hartman traces the evolving meaning of megafauna in popular culture.