Single parenting in a pandemic: ‘I cry alone in the car so the kids don’t...

Lia Hynes

Author Ruth Gilligan: ‘I have slowly colonised our flat’s small second bedroom into my writing...

Sophie Grenham

About 400,000 women in Ireland have this condition and don’t know

IMAGE

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 currently has no women sitting on it. Why?

Lynn Enright

And now Dermaplaning. When will it be okay for women to have hair?

Kate Demolder

3 Mother’s Day gifts that aren’t flowers or chocolates

IMAGE

Non-colour nail polish for when you’ve finally removed your gel nails

Holly O'Neill

Lady Gaga offers reward after dog-walker shot 4 times, pets stolen

Jennifer McShane

Anne Hathaway says she was ‘ninth choice’ for one of her most iconic roles

Jennifer McShane

Image / Editorial

6 brilliant essay collections for when you can’t commit to a whole book


by Jennifer McShane
16th Jan 2021

Time these days is a contradiction.  Slow-moving, yet somehow passing in the blink of an eye. From home-schooling to work, to family and the rest, some days starting a book feels a mammoth task because you know deep down, it may be months before you reach the end. Essay collections fill that void. You can consume one in no time at all and feel you’ve learned something new, without the pressure to read on. The below all address a myriad of subjects (some tougher than others) and offer an enlighted glimpse at the world


 Emilie Pines’ Notes to Self 

Emilie Pine is a startling writer. Her immensely powerful collection of deeply personal, interlocking essays on addition, rape and infertility jump out from each page. Each story is emotive; from the loneliness of infertility to the wrenching exhaustion of loving an addict and, above all, it’s real. The UCD lecturer shrewdly self-examines, yet her singular voice is almost a rallying cry; a call to arms for women. She’s that voice. The voice inside that wonders time and time again, ‘is it just me who feels like this?’ One of its greatest achievements is that it almost totally silences those waves of doubt we can constantly feel. A triumph.

Patrick Freyne’s Ok, Let’s Do Your Stupid Idea

Irish Times journalist Patrick Freyne has had a lot of stupid ideas in his life. Like the time he, aged five, decided to let a horse out of its gate “just to see what would happen” or when he jumped out of a plane for charity (even though he didn’t care much for the charity) the time he set up a pirate radio station, tried to be a rockstar, or was a dish washer on the set of Braveheart. Then there are the camping trips, rural Ireland, the sudden death of a too-young friend. Reading his funny, strange and, at times devastating perspective through a series of essays, he elevates the ordinary – when perhaps it is not so ordinary at all. A must-read.

Zadie Smith’s Intimations 

This is the only collection of six essays that explores life in lockdown. However, don’t worry, far from being a historical, political or comprehensive account of 2020 (because there’s plenty of time for that), her illuminating “personal essays: small by definition, short by necessity” are much easier to digest.  She looks with sensitivity and intimacy at what was unprecedented year offering connection, and by the time you get to the end, a wish that she had written more.

Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror

The subtitle of this volume is Essays On Self-Delusion and Tolentino expertly expands on this idea of how we see ourselves – it’s at the heart of all nine of them.  The backdrops and players change – the “hell of the Internet”, reality TV, scammer culture, drugs, white weddings – but the lies we tell ourselves and the façade we offer runs through as a constant. It makes for an absorbing and fascinating look at the very public elements of millennial life today.

Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism

This collection is meant to be an uncomfortable read for white women – it must be. Here, Kendall lays bare concisely calls for solidarity in what she describes as a non-inclusive movement. “It isn’t about saying the right words at the right time,” she says, this being the backbone of her message throughout the book. Over 16 essays, she calls for action, and highlights how often white feminists do not engage with issues that do not affect them because, even though white women might still be an oppressed group, they still ultimutely have the power to oppress black women. In 2021, this is an essential read.

Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings

In what can only be described as a blistering collection, Hong deftly explores the “under-reported” Asian-American experience. A child of Korean immigrants, she was born in Los Angeles’s Koreatown, and her essays explore her personal experiences in combination with cultural criticism. Across the collection, beautifully details how her life and art have been shaped by her Korean American identity and openly tells of how race affected all aspects of her life, including her friendships and mental health.


Read more: #IMAGEReads: 6 brilliant books to look forward to in 2021

Read more: Shifting perspectives: 5 books especially worth reading during the pandemic

Also Read

deal with grief
EDITORIAL
6 books, plays and podcasts to help you deal with grief

Death is a natural part of life, yet there’s no...

By Grace McGettigan

ultimate guide to home renovation
EDITORIAL
Here’s what you need to know to avoid a hellish (and budget-busting) home renovation

After undergoing her own home overhaul, interior designer and architect...

By IMAGE Interiors & Living

EDITORIAL
Eclipsed: The powerful, all-female play exposing a Magdalene Laundry you need to see

‘Eclipsed’ director Kate Canning told Jennifer McShane of the challenges...

By Jennifer McShane

glitter
EDITORIAL
The grown up guide to wearing glitter lips

If Tom Ford, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel and Nars tell you...

By Holly O'Neill

EDITORIAL
9 beautiful Champagne glasses to order in time for NYE

Ring in the New Year (and bid a welcome adieu...

By Lauren Heskin

EDITORIAL
GoFundMe CEO: ‘Ireland is the most generous nation in the world’

These days, it’s easier than ever to give something back....

By Jennifer McShane

books
EDITORIAL
8 brilliant books worth reading (that you may have missed)

 With so many brilliant books out in 2020, there’s every...

By Jennifer McShane

ADVICE, RELATIONSHIPS, BEAUTY
Cosmetic injectables: ‘It takes a brave and honourable clinic to tell someone ‘you don’t need this”

 Less may be more when it comes to cosmetic enhancements,...

By Amanda Cassidy