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One piece concerns California, one of Didion’s signature topics and one about which nobody else wrote quite like her — it dates from 1976. The other is a longer piece about a 1970 trip she took through the South with her husband, John Gregory Dunne.

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This much-anthologized meditation follows Dillard and her husband as they drive to a mountaintop in Washington to witness a total eclipse — that rare event when the sun becomes entirely obscured, turning day briefly into night. Dillard's rendering of this experience showcases her enviable abilities to both observe and describe. It's collected in


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"Directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury deftly catapult us into one of the most highly complex and wily relationships between writer and subject, where the unremitting pursuit of the ultimate scoop and the ever-shifting memory of a serial voyeur collide and create an entirely new truth,” said Nishimura. “Kane & Koury have created an endlessly fascinating exploration of desire, control and the stories we tell ourselves.”

Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation.

Though it's collected in his great and final collection of essays, , you can read an adaptation While it's a must-read for aspiring creative writers, it's about more than writing — much, much more — despite its brevity and characteristic Vonnegut wit. It opens with the best slam of the semicolon ever.

—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

David Rakoff died a little over a year ago at the too-early age of 47. Just a few months prior, he read this essay about his cancer, his imminent death, and dancing, aloud as part of 's live show. As always with Rakoff's work, it was funny, painful, and revealed the author's intense love of the English language. Warning: When you watch , you will laugh audibly, several times, and you might cry.

—Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

The briefest — and perhaps densest — essay on this list, "The Death of the Moth," on its face, is about exactly that: Woolf notices a moth caught in her window and witnesses its death. and then read it again, and again.

—Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Well-known nature writer Barry Lopez shocked many when he published in January, in which he confessed being raped throughout his adolescence by his mother's sometime boyfriend. It is an affecting and horrifying portrait of what it is to be a victim of sexual abuse. Unfortunately you do have to be a subscriber to read it (for now).

There is nothing more atrociously cruel than an adored child.

One of Emerson's most influential essays, you can read it or in nearly every collection of his works. While his prose's formality may be a shock at first, what he says he says with great clarity and to the great empowerment of his reader. It is a declaration of the fact that true happiness, in oneself and all relationships, must spurn from self-love and honest expression: "I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should."