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How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

How to Write Book Titles in Your Essays

3-minute read

  • 26th May 2023

When writing an essay, you’re likely to mention other authors’ works, such as books, papers, and articles. Formatting the titles of these works usually involves using quotation marks or italics.

So how do you write a book title in an essay? Most style guides have a standard for this – be sure to check that first. If you’re unsure, though, check out our guide below.

Italics or Quotation Marks?

As a general rule, you should set titles of longer works in italics , and titles of shorter works go in quotation marks . Longer works include books, journals, TV shows, albums, plays, etc. Here’s an example of a book mention:

Shorter works include poems, articles, chapters of books, episodes of TV shows, songs, etc. If it’s a piece that’s part of a biggHow to Write Book Titles in Your Essayser work, the piece considered a short work:

Exceptions to the Rule

The rule for writing book titles in italics applies specifically to running text . If the book title is standing on its own, as in a heading, there’s no need to italicize it.

Additionally, if the book is part of a larger series and you’re mentioning both the title of the series and that of the individual book, you can consider the book a shorter work. You would set the title of the series in italics and place the book title in quotation marks:

Punctuation in Book Titles

Do you need to apply italics to the punctuation in a book title? The short answer is yes – but only if the punctuation is part of the title:

If the punctuation isn’t part of the title (i.e., the punctuation is part of the sentence containing the title), you shouldn’t include in the italics:

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Summary: Writing Book Titles in Essays

We hope you’ll now feel confident when you’re writing and formatting book titles in your essays. Generally, you should set the title in italics when it’s in running text. Remember, though, to check your style guide. While the standards we’ve covered are the most common, some style guides have different requirements.

And once you finish writing your paper, make sure you send it our way! We’ll make sure any titles are formatted correctly as well as checking your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation, referencing, and more. Submit a free sample to try our service today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write the title of a book in a sentence.

Set the title of the book in italics unless the book is part of a larger work (e.g., a book that’s part of a series):

When do you use quotation marks for titles?

Place titles of shorter works or pieces that are contained in a larger work in quotation marks:

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How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: A Simple Guide

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Julia McCoy

how to write a book title in an essay

Mastering the art of citation is crucial for academic writing, and one common dilemma writers face is how to write a book title in an essay.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the ins and outs of citing book titles, exploring different citation styles, and providing practical tips to ensure your essays are not only well-written but also properly referenced.

Whether you’re navigating the nuances of MLA, APA, or Chicago style, we’ve got you covered with clear guidelines and examples to help you confidently write book titles in your next masterpiece.

Let’s get started!

Table Of Contents:

How to write book titles in essays, how to format book citations, writing various types of titles in essays, emphasizing book titles in essays, punctuating and capitalizing book titles, examples of writing book titles in essays, faqs – how to write a book title in an essay.

Writing book titles in essays can be tricky, especially with different style guides like MLA, APA, and Chicago. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with some tips and examples on how to quote a book title in your essay.

MLA Style Guide

In MLA style, book titles are italicized, both in the text of your paper and in the Works Cited list.

For example: Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a powerful novel about the lasting impact of slavery.

how to write a book title in an essay

Similarly, in the style guide of the American Psychological Association, book titles should also be italicized in the text and the reference list.

For instance: In The Catcher in the Rye , Holden Caulfield grapples with the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Chicago Manual

In Chicago style, book titles are italicized in the text and the bibliography.

Like this: Michael Pollan explores the origins of our food in The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals .

Regardless of the style guide, there are some general formatting rules to keep in mind.

Titles of books should be underlined or italicized. Titles of stories, essays, and poems are placed in quotation marks.

Refer to the text specifically as a novel, story, essay, memoir, or poem, depending on what it is.

Capitalization Rules

Use capital letters to write the title of a novel.

For example, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Quotation Marks

Titles of stories, essays, and poems are placed in “quotation marks.” This helps differentiate them from longer works like novels or non-fiction books.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into some specifics for different types of titles you might encounter.

Journal Articles

If the book title is part of a larger work, like a journal article, it should be underlined instead of italicized.

Short Stories

Titles of short stories should be placed in quotation marks.

For example: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.

Chapter Titles

When referencing a chapter title, enclose it in quotation marks.

For instance: “The Boy Who Lived” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone .

Article Titles

Article titles, like those found in English-language newspapers or magazines, should also be placed in quotation marks.

For example: “Why We Crave Horror Movies” by Stephen King.

Newspaper Titles

Italicize the names of newspapers, like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal .

The names of websites should generally be italicized, such as The Huffington Post or BuzzFeed .

Book Series

When referring to a book series as a whole, italicize the name of the series. Individual books within the series should also be italicized.

For example: the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, which includes titles like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets .

Sometimes you want to draw extra attention to a book title in your essay. Here’s how to do it effectively.

When to Italicize

As a general rule, italicize the titles of longer works such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums.

When to Use Quotation Marks

Shorter works like poems, articles, book chapters, songs, TV episodes, or other shorter works should be placed in quotation marks.

Exceptions to the Rules

As with any rule, there are exceptions. Some style guides prefer underlining to italics. Others may recommend using quotation marks around the title and italicizing or underlining the name of the newspaper or magazine it appears in.

When in doubt, always check with your instructor or the publication you’re writing for.

Punctuation and capitalization are key when it comes to book titles in essays. Get it wrong, and your writing won’t look as polished.

Using Question Marks

If a book title ends with a question mark or exclamation point, include it in the italics.

For example: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

In general, capitalize the first word and all major words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions).

Don’t capitalize articles, prepositions, or conjunctions unless they’re the first or last word.

Some style guides recommend capitalizing prepositions five letters or longer.

how to write a book title in an essay

Title case is the most common form of title capitalization and is found in all four major title capitalization styles (AP, APA, MLA, and Chicago).

Capitalize the first word in the title, the last word in the title, and all “major” words in between.

Proper Nouns

Always capitalize proper nouns, such as the names of people, places, organizations, or other proper nouns in a book title.

For example: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling.

Let’s look at some examples of how to write book titles in various situations.

Classic Literature

When referencing a classic work of literature, italicize the book’s title in the text of your paper.

In the Works Cited entry, include the author’s full name, the title of the book (in italics), the publisher, and the year of publication.

For example:

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice . Penguin Classics, 2002.

Contemporary Literature

For a contemporary work, follow the same format in the text of your essay.

In the Works Cited entry, include the author’s name, book title (in italics), publisher, year of publication, and medium of publication (print, web, etc.).

Here’s an example:

Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad . Doubleday, 2016. Print.

Non-Fiction Works

When citing a non-fiction book, use the same format as you would for a fictional work. Italicize the book title in the text and the Works Cited entry. Include the author’s name, book title (in italics), publisher, year of publication, and medium of publication.

For instance:

Krakauer, Jon.  Into the Wild . Anchor Books, 1997. Print.

How do you write the title of a book in a sentence?

In sentences, capitalize the first word and proper nouns. If it’s central to your point, italicize it.

Is a book title italicized or in quotes?

Book titles are usually italicized. Quotes are for shorter works like articles or poems.

How do you write a book title in a handwritten essay?

If handwritten, underline book titles instead of using italics to highlight them.

So there you have it – your complete guide to how to write a book title in an essay. By following these simple rules for MLA, APA, and Chicago style, you’ll be able to format your book titles correctly every time.

Remember, the key is to be consistent and pay attention to the details. Whether you’re italicizing, underlining, or using quotation marks, make sure you’re applying the rules consistently throughout your essay.

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Written by Julia McCoy

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How to Write Book Titles in Essays: APA, MLA, Chicago Styles

It’s your practical and up-to-point guide on how to write a book title in an essay. You’ll get the formatting rules and examples for citing book and author names in academic papers.

We’ve covered the top three citation styles: APA, Chicago, and MLA.

How to Write the Title of a Book in an Essay

First, remember the general rules of citing book names in academic works.

Here’s how to cite books in essays :

  • Use capitalization. Every word of a book’s name goes in the title case, except prepositions, articles, and coordinating conjunctions.
  • Use italics for longer and independent works. Use double quotations for shorter ones (poems, articles, book chapters, or play acts and scenes).
  • Use single quotations for a book’s title within another title. (When citing monographs about literary works, for example.) 

While capitalization rules depend on the citation style, some general tips have a place to be. Please, no capitalization for:

  • Articles: a, the (unless the book title begins with it)
  • Coordinating conjunctions and prepositions: of, and, or, but, for, to, nor, in, so (unless the book title begins or ends with it)

Subordinating conjunctions (although, unless, because, if) go in capital letters.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: APA

APA (American Psychological Association) is the most popular style for citing academic works. It’s common for the social sciences like Education, Psychology, Sociology, and others. The current edition: 7th (2019).

Book titles in APA stand for:

  • Italics. (If a book name includes any punctuation, italicize it too.)
  • Capitalization. (Capitalize all words longer than four letters , regardless of the part of speech. Also, use capital letters for two-part words and those coming after a dash or a colon.)
  • Double quotations instead of italics. (When citing a short work like an article or a poem; when citing a book chapter or when the book is a part of an anthology.)

For example: 

The Lord of the Rings but “The Fellowship of the Ring” (The latter is part of the trilogy.)

Related: How to Cite a Movie in APA Format

How to Write the Name of a Book in an Essay: Chicago

The Chicago Manual of Style is a guide by the University of Chicago. It’s common for fields like History, Fine Arts, and Business. The current edition: 17th (2017).

How to format book titles in Chicago:

  • Italicize longer and independent works; put shorter ones in double quotations.
  • Use italics for punctuation within a title.
  • Capitalize all words except articles (a, the) and ALL prepositions or conjunctions (regardless of length).

For example:

In George Orwell’s 1984 , the author presents a dystopian society characterized by pervasive government surveillance and the suppression of individual freedom. The harrowing events in “Chapter 2,” where Winston Smith begins to rebel against the Party by starting a forbidden diary, mark a pivotal moment in the novel’s exploration of resistance against totalitarianism.

The style resembles the MLA format, but it’s flexible, allowing you to “break the rules if necessary.”

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay: MLA

MLA format stands for the Modern Language Association. It’s common for humanities like Literature, Culture, Linguistics, etc. The current edition: 8th (2016). 

How to format books in MLA:

  • Italicize all words, including punctuation and those of two parts or going after colons and hyphens.
  • Capitalize all words except articles (a, the) , prepositions, and short conjunctions within a book title.
  • Use double quotations instead of italics when writing a book chapter or a part of a book series.

In Little Women , Beth March dies in Chapter 40, “The Valley of the Shadow.”

Formatting Book Author Names in Papers

Use the author’s full name (first and last) to format it in your essay for proper credit.

If a book has two authors, use both last names and initials. For works with three or more authors, use the last name of the first one and add “et all.”

No need to italicize author names in papers.

Why Properly Cite Book Titles in Essays

The short answer:

You won’t get a high grade for an essay. Formatting blunders count as mistakes.

The longer answer:

  • You prove writing skills and an understanding of the rules in academia.
  • Your papers maintain consistency. It’s critical to stick to criteria to prevent confusion. The consistent format for book headings also serves to better scannability and readability.
  • You learn to cite different types of references for your future projects.

Do you italicize book titles?

Yes, you put book titles in italics. Please italicize long and stand-alone works: books, movies, webpages, reports, or music albums. Shorter works’ titles (articles, essays, poems, songs, or book chapters) come in quotations. (1)

Do you underline book titles?

Underlining book titles is an outdated practice. Some still use it in handwritten essays, but it’s not a must-follow rule. Neither APA nor MLA (or Chicago) mentions underlining book names in academic papers.

How to use book title capitalization in texts?

Capitalize every word in a book’s title. Exceptions are articles (a, the), prepositions, and short (three or fewer letters) conjunctions in mid-titles.

Are books italicized in all formatting styles?

Yes, book titles come in italics in all styles: APA, MLA, and Chicago. When citing book chapters or a book as a part of a series, use quotation marks instead.

How to write a book author in an essay?

Use the author’s full name when citing their book in your papers. For works with several authors, mention their last names and initials. Unlike book titles, author names come in standard formatting with no italics.


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How to Write A BOOK Title In An Essay

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Writing a book title in an essay can be confusing. But it is necessary for the credibility and clarity of the write-up. Plus, each writing style has its own rules for formatting titles. Hence, doing such an activity could be a real pain for the students.

Don’t worry, as you are in the right place! Since this interesting article focuses on guiding you about how to write a book title in an essay accurately. So, read it thoroughly before you search for a professional  paper writing services  provider.

Table of Contents

Understanding Formatting Guidelines

The first step in learning how to write book name in essay is to learn the basics. It means you need to get comfortable with different formatting guidelines. Let’s begin with the style guides.

Different style guides

When writing essays for college , it’s important to know the rules for formatting book titles. The three most popular style guides are MLA, APA, and Chicago.

In  MLA format , you should usually italicize book titles. You can also put them in quotation marks when a type of work demands.

For example, a book title like “To Kill a Mockingbird” would be italicized:  To Kill a Mockingbird .

However, a chapter title within a book would be placed within quotation marks. For example, “The Ewell Family.”

In  APA style , the first word of book titles is capital.

For example, a book title like “The Catcher in the Rye” would be written as The catcher in the rye

Chicago Style

Chicago style demands a book title to be in italics or quotation marks. It is very similar to the MLA style. But Chicago style gives you a bit more leeway to use italics or quotation marks. It’s best to stay consistent with what you pick throughout your essay when using the Chicago style.

Consistency within the Essay

You must be consistent when including the title of a book in an essay. Figure out what style guide you must follow and ensure you stick with it. That means all the book titles you mention should look the same.

For example, if you choose to italicize book titles according to MLA style. Ensure that all book titles in your essay are italicized consistently. Avoid mixing italicization with quotation marks or using different formatting styles within the same essay.

Inconsistency in formatting can confuse readers and undermine the professionalism of your work. Paying attention to detail and maintaining consistency will contribute to your essay’s overall clarity and readability.

Determine the Appropriate Style Guide to Follow

To determine the appropriate style guide to follow for formatting book titles in your essay, consider the following:

Assignment Requirements

See if your teacher or the instructions for the assignment mention a certain style to go by. Stick to that, if they do, to ensure everything is consistent, and you meet the expectations.

Academic Discipline

Your field of study can affect which style guide you should use. For example, humanities and literature students usually use MLA style, while social sciences usually use APA style. It’s important to know what’s typical in your discipline to choose the right guide.

Formatting Book Titles in MLA Style

Humanities and liberal arts disciplines use MLA writing rules. In MLA style, book titles are usually in italics like in APA style. But there can be variations in capitalization and punctuation. Let’s explore each aspect in detail with examples:

In MLA style, book titles are put in italics to make them stand out from the rest of the text.

Titles of shorter works, such as articles or chapters, are enclosed in quotation marks.

Example 1: Italicized Book Title

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby .

Example 2: Book Chapter (In Quotation Marks)

Smith, John. “The Art of Persuasion.” Essays on Rhetoric.


In MLA style, follows the title case. It means keep the first letter of each word capital. Capitalize articles, conjunctions, and prepositions only if they are the first or last words in title.

Example 3: Correct Capitalization

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.


In MLA style, there should be no special punctuation like colons or periods between the main title and any subtitles. However, if the book’s title includes a subtitle, a colon should separate it from the main title.

Example 4: Book Title with Subtitle

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success.

Edition and Volume Numbers

To refer to a certain book edition, add the edition number after the book title. If the book is part of a multi-volume work, indicate the volume number after the title as well.

Example 5: Edition and Volume Numbers

Johnson, Mary. Chemistry in Focus. 2nd ed.

Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. Vol. 1.

Translated Titles

If the book you are citing is translated from another language, include the original title and the translator’s name in the citation.

Example 6: Translated Title

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Translated by David Wyllie.

It’s important to remember that MLA style is always changing and being updated. So always refer to the latest edition of the MLA Handbook or your institution’s writing guidelines.

Formatting Book Titles in APA Style

Usually the social sciences disciplines use APA (American Psychological Association) style. Let’s look at how you must consider capitalization, punctuation and italics in this writing style.

Just capitalize the first word of any subtitles and proper nouns.

All other words, such as articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (in, on, at), are in lowercase.

Example 1: 

“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”

In APA style, book titles are italicized to distinguish them from the rest of the text.

Do not italicize titles of shorter works, such as articles or chapters. Just enclose them in quotation marks.

Example 2: Italics

Here’s an example of an italicized book title:

The Catcher in the Rye

In APA style, there should be a colon (:) between the main title and any subtitle.

When citing a book title within the text of your paper, use title case and italicize it.

When including book titles in your reference list, use sentence case and italicize it.

Example 3: Punctuation

Here’s an example of proper punctuation and citation within the text and reference list:

In-text citation

According to Smith (2019),  The Theory of Everything  provides an in-depth analysis of astrophysics.

Reference list citation

Smith, J. (2019).  the theory of everything . Publisher.

Include the edition number in parentheses right after the book title when a book has a specific edition.

If a book is part of a multi-volume work, you can also indicate the volume number after the title.

Example 4: Parenthesis

Here are examples of how to format book titles with edition and volume numbers:

Edition Number

Johnson, M. (2022). Chemistry in Focus (2nd ed.).

Volume Number

Smith, A. (2021). History of the United States (Vol. 3).

Include the translator’s name in square brackets if you cite a translated book. 

Example 5: Translated Thesis 

Here’s an example of how to format a translated book title:

Kundera, M. (1984). The Unbearable Lightness of Being [Original title: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí].

Translated by M. Henry.

Formatting Book Titles in Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style is mostly used in the humanities and social sciences disciplines. Chicago style follows two systems, namely Author-Date System and the notes and bibliography system. Let’s explore both of them.

Author-Date System

In the author-date system, you include:

  • In-text citations with the author’s last name
  • The publication year
  • A corresponding entry in the reference list


In the author-date system, book titles are italicized. It makes them Distinguish from other elements in the citation.

Chicago style uses a title case for book titles in the author-date system. It means the first letter of the title, subtitles, and any major words are capitalized.

There should be a period at the end of the full book citation in the reference list.

Example 1: In-Text Citation

Example 2: Reference List Citation

Smith, John. 2019.  The Theory of Everything . Publisher.

Notes and Bibliography System

You use footnotes or endnotes in the notes and bibliography system for in-text citations and a bibliography for the full list of references.

Similar to the author-date system, book titles are italicized in the notes and bibliography system.

In the notes and bibliography system, the Chicago style uses headline-style capitalization for book titles. It means that the first letter of the first and last words of the title are capitalized.

Put a period at the end of each full bibliographic entry in the notes and bibliography system.

Example 3: Footnote/Endnote Citation

John Smith,  The Theory of Everything  (Publisher, 2019), 25.

Example 4: Bibliography Citation

Smith, John.  The Theory of Everything . Publisher, 2019.

You may include the edition number after the title, and for multi-volume works, the volume number after the title.

Example 5: Edition Number

Johnson, Mary.  Chemistry in Focus . 2nd ed.

Example 6: Volume Number

Smith, Adam.  The Wealth of Nations . Vol. 1.

For translated works, include the original title and the translator’s name in the citation.

Example 7: Translated Title

Kafka, Franz.  The Metamorphosis . Translated by David Wyllie.

Citation of Book Titles in Other Situations

Let’s highlight some unusual circumstances of including a title of book in essay. Starting with:

Book titles within quotations

If you’re citing a direct quote from a book in your essay, you may need to put the book title in quotes. Generally, you should use double quotation marks for this.

For example:

According to Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

In the novel 1984, George Orwell explores the theme of government surveillance through the famous line, “Big Brother is watching you.”

By using double quotation marks, you indicate that the words within the quotation marks are taken directly from the book.

Book Titles in Footnotes or Endnotes

In academic writing, footnotes or endnotes can be added to give extra info or credits. When including book titles, how you format them depends on the citation style you’re using.

In Chicago Style, book titles in footnotes or endnotes should usually be italicized or in quotation marks.

For Example:

Jane Austen,  Pride and Prejudice  (New York: Penguin Classics, 2002), 45.

Harper Lee,  To Kill a Mockingbird , (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 77.

Handling Foreign language book titles

Follow these rules for citing a book in a foreign language. You should keep the original language title, especially if it’s a popular work.

Italicize the foreign language book title following the same guidelines as you would for an English book title. Include a translation in parentheses if necessary.

Use the original foreign language title in sentence case without italics or quotation marks. Include a translation in brackets if needed.

Italicize or use quotation marks for foreign language book titles, following the same guidelines as you would for an English book title. Include a translation if required.

Special Cases

In certain situations, you might need to format book titles differently. Like if you’re talking about a poem or play. These types of works have their own rules for formatting titles. Let’s get to know them briefly. 

Typically, you’d put poem titles in quotation marks and longer pieces of poetry, like epics, in italics. It’s worth checking the style guide you’re using, though, since the rules can vary.

You’ll usually see the title written in italics when it comes to plays. The names of characters or speakers within the play are usually written with a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, without quotation marks.

Best Practices for Including Book Titles in Essays

Double-check formatting guidelines.

It’s super important to double-check the formatting rules for book titles when writing an essay since each style guide has its own rules. You need to make sure you’re following them properly.

Proofreading for Accuracy and Consistency

Look out for mistakes in how you’ve done the capitals, italics, and quotes. Double-check any extra rules that might apply to foreign language books, poems, plays, and other special cases.

Seek Assistance from Style Guides or Writing Resources

It’s a good idea to get help from style guides or writing tools when you are stuck with citations. You can also buy cheap essay from a well-reputed writing services provider.

It’s super important to get book titles in essays right. Not just for clarity but also to show you’re a pro. Ensure that you stick to the accurate style guide. It could be MLA, APA, or Chicago. Plus, there are special rules for poems and more.

Furthermore, if you need a professional to help you out with citations, do count on the expertise of  our writers . They are always available to get you out of your troubles of how to write book titles in essays.

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How to Write a Book Title in an Essay (MLA, APA etc.)

Formatting your essay correctly ensures that you get full recognition for the hard work you put into it. Wondering what to do? There are two scenarios that lead you to the question of "how to write a book title in an essay":

  • You have not been required to use a particular style guide, in which case consistency remains important.
  • You have been instructed to use a particular style guide. You now simply need to ensure that you are familiar with its rules.

Regardless of which of these scenarios holds true for you, this guide is here to help.

How to Write a Book Title in an Essay

Many style manuals call on writers use title case and italics to format a book title. Title case rules vary slightly from one style guide to the next, but generally capitalize all important words — nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adverbs. Conjunctions and prepositions are not capitalized unless they are very long (generally more than four letters) or they appear at the beginning or end of a book title.

Writers who are not required to work with a specific style manual can't go wrong if they stick to this style. Some examples would be:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect us From Violence by Gavin de Becker
  • The Cat With a Feathery Tail and Other Stories by Enid Blyton

If, on the other hand, you're required to use a style guide, it will likely be one of these:

  • MLA, commonly used in disciplines relating to literature and social sciences.
  • APA, commonly used in psychology and other sciences.
  • Chicago, often used in the publishing industry.
  • Harvard style, commonly used in philosophy and social sciences.

These are certainly not the only "big players" in the style guide world, but they're ones it's good to be familiar with. There is overlap between these styles, but there are also major differences — so knowing one definitely does not mean you know the others, too.

Guidelines for Writing a Book Title in an Essay

Looking for a short and sharp answer, so you can get on with the rest of your essay? This is it.

This quick guide will help you reference the book title of your choosing in the body of your essay, but what about your Works Cited pages? Each style guide offers different rules, and we'll use the same book as an example to illustrate the differences.

  • MLA uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. Title of Book . City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Year. Example: Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game. Tor Books, 1985. (You only have to detail the city of publication if the book was published before 1900, the publisher has offices in many localities, or the publisher is not known in the US.)
  • APA uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. (Year of Publication). Title of book. Example: Card, Orson Scott. (1985). Ender's game.
  • Chicago style uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Name. Book Title: Subtitle . Place of publication: Publisher, Year. Example: Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game . Tor Books, 1985.
  • Harvard uses the following format: Author Last Name, First Initial. (Publication Year). Title . ed. City: Publisher. Example: Card, O. (1985). Ender's Game. Tor Books.

If, after researching, you cannot find relevant information about publication years, publishers, or the city in which a book was published, you may omit it. For a full guide, it is always best to have a physical copy of the latest edition of the style manual you are using. You can, however, get by without this if you need to.

Should you still not know what to do, it will be helpful for you to know that you can "generate" citations for a particular style manual with the help of online tools like Cite Me . These are not always accurate, so if you decide to use one, always check the citation manually.

Why Is Proper Formatting Important?

All of the well-known style manuals ultimately serve the very same set of purposes, although they were each developed for a particular niche. The goals of these style manuals are both explicit and implicit:

  • Following a style guide ensures consistency throughout a document, in this case an essay.
  • Consistency ensures that reader's understand precisely what the writer is talking about, without exerting any effort on figuring that out. Clarity is especially important in academic writing.
  • By using a style guide within a certain discipline, you show that you understand the rules within that discipline. This adds credibility to your voice as a writer. You have done your homework, have ideally bought the style manual, and are part of the "in group".
  • Sticking to a certain style guide makes it easier for relevant parties to check your references, which they can then use to perform further research.

Students are increasingly asked to refer to style guides at all levels, including in high school. In this case, formatting your essay correctly, in accordance with the right style manual, serves two additional purposes:

  • You'll lose points if you don't do it right, offering you an additional reason to do your research.
  • Getting used to these formats prepares you for further education. If you are in high school, it prepares you for college-level writing. If you are an undergraduate student, it prepares you for academic work at the graduate and post-graduate levels.

Can you start an essay with a book title?

Yes, you can start an essay with a book title. This is a valid stylistic choice, but you will always want to consider your introduction carefully.

How do you write a book title in handwriting?

Students sometimes ask whether it is acceptable to underline book titles instead of italicizing them. This practice indeed stems from a time in which most students wrote their essays by hand. Although it has largely fallen out of practice now, you can still underline a book title if you are handwriting your essay.

How do you write a book title and chapter in an essay?

You should mention the chapter title first: "Rat" from Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Consult the relevant style manual to ensure you get the formatting right.

Can you shorten a book title in an essay?

Yes, you can. Reference the full title the first time you mention it (for example: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things ). The next time you mention the book, you may simply refer to Furiously Happy .

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Title of Source. The title is usually taken from an authoritative location in the source such as the title page. It is the name of the source you are using. Capitalize the following parts of speech in a title: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (although, because, unless, after, until, when, where, while, etc.). Do not capitalize articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, the "to" in infinitives if they appear in the middle of the title. A colon separates the title from the subtitle unless it ends in a question mark or exclamation. Titles should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Titles that are independent and self-contained (e.g., books) and titles of containers (e.g., anthologies) should be italicized. Titles that are contained in larger works (e.g., short stories) should be in quotation s. Exceptions to the above rule are: 1) Scripture (Genesis, Bible, Gospels, Upanishads, Old Testament, Talmud, etc.) Titles of individualized scripture writings, however, should be italicized and treated like any other published work.(e.g. The Interlinear Bible) 2) Names of laws, acts and political documents (Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Treaty of Marseilles, etc.) 3) Musical compositions identified by form, number, and key (Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92) 4) Series titles (Critical American Studies, Bollingen Series, etc.) 5) Conferences, seminars, workshops, and courses (MLA Annual Convention, English 110)

The title of the work follows the author and ends with a period . Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind . New York: Macmillan, 1961.

A sub-title is included after the main title . Joyce, Michael. Othermindedness: The Emergence of Network Culture. U of Michigan P, 2000. Baron, Sabrina Alcorn et al., editors. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of               Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007.

The title of a story, poem or essay in a collection, as part of a larger whole, is placed in quotation marks . Dewar, James A., and Peng Hwa Ang. "The Cultural Consequences of Printing and the Internet." Agent of Change: Print             Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress,             2007, pp. 365-77. 

Independent work in a collection When a work that is normally independent (such as a novel or play) appears in a collection, the work's title remains in italics. Euripides. The Trojan Women . Ten Plays, translated by Paul Roche, New American Library, 1998, pp. 457-512.

The title of a periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) is in italics and the title of the article is in quotation marks. Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The Georgia Review, vol. 64, no. 1, 2010           pp. 69-88. Note: This rule applies to all media forms such as the title of a television series, an episode in a television series, a song or piece of music in an album, a posting or article on a web page. See examples below. Television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer . Created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Episode in a television series "Hush." Buffy the Vampire Slayer , created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah           Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. So Many Books . 2003-13, somanybooksbkog.com Note: When giving a URL, omit http and https. Posting of an article on a web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print."           So Many Books, 25 April 2013, somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital-           and-print/. A song or piece of music in an album Beyonce. "Pretty Hurts." Beyonce , Parkwood Entertainment, 2013,           www.beyonce.com/album/beyonce/?media_view=songs.

Untitled Source In the place of the title, provide a generic description of the source without italics or quotation marks. Capitalize the first word in the title and any proper nouns in it. Mackintosh, Charles Rennie. Chair of Stained Oak. 1897-1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Comment or review of a title in an online forum Jeane. Comment on "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 Apr. 2013,            10:30 p.m., somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital-and-            print/#comment-83030

Review of a title in an online forum Mackin, Joseph. Review of The Pleasures of Reading of an age of Distraction , by Alan Jacobs. New York Journal of Books, 2 June 2011, www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/            pleasures-reading-age-distraction.

Tweet Reproduce the full text without changing anything and enclose within quotation marks. @persiankiwi."We have report of large street battles in east and west of Tehran now. - #Iranelection." Twitter ,            23 June 2009, 11:15 a.m., twitter.com/persianwiki/status/2298106072.

E-mail message Use subject as the title. Subject is enclosed in quotation marks. Boyle, Anthony T. "Re: Utopia." Received by Daniel J. Cayhill, 21 June 1997.

Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword Capitalize the term in the works cited list but do not italicize or enclose in quotation marks. The term need not be capitalized in in-text discussion. Felstiner, John. Preface. Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan , by Paul Celan, translated by Felstiner              W.W. Norton, 2001, pp.xix-xxxvi.

Translations of Titles Place translations of titles for foreign works in square brackets in the works cited list. The translation appears next to the title.

Shortened titles The first time a title is mentioned in your work, it should appear in full. If the title is repeated in the work, it can be shortened to a familiar one (e.g., Skylark for Ode to a Skylark).

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How to Write Book Titles in MLA

Last Updated: April 1, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Annaliese Dunne and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Annaliese Dunne is a Middle School English Teacher. With over 10 years of teaching experience, her areas of expertise include writing and grammar instruction, as well as teaching reading comprehension. She is also an experienced freelance writer. She received her Bachelor's degree in English. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 47,863 times.

If you're writing a research paper, you may want to include the title of a book in the text of your paper. The handbook for the Modern Language Association (MLA) provides specific rules for how to set off the title of a book from the rest of your text. Generally, titles of books are set apart from the rest of the text following particular formatting, capitalization, and punctuation rules.

Formatting Titles

Step 1 Italicize book titles in the text of your paper.

  • Music album titles and film titles are also italicized.
  • In earlier editions, the MLA Handbook also permitted titles to be underlined. The 8th edition confirms that underlining is no longer appropriate.

Exception : Religious texts, such as the Bible or the Quran, are not italicized.

Step 2 Use regular font style to distinguish a title within a title.

  • For example, you might write: "In The Great Gatsby in the Classroom: Searching for the American Dream , David Dowling promotes the use of art and film to improve literacy."

Step 3 Italicize series titles that are independent or foundational.

  • For example, if you were talking about the Nancy Drew series, you would not italicize "Nancy Drew" because the name does not appear in the titles of any of the individual books. In contrast, Harry Potter would be italicized, because the name appears at the beginning of the title of every book in the series.

Step 4 Abbreviate titles for subsequent mentions.

  • For example, if you were writing a paper on The Great Gatsby , you would need to include the full title in your text at least once. If you mentioned the novel more than once, you could use Gatsby as a shortened title.
  • How you shorten the title generally depends on your own judgment. Use a word or words that evoke the title easily in the mind of the reader, without any ambiguity.

Capitalizing Titles

Step 1 Capitalize the first word of the title and subtitle.

  • For example, you might write: "Comedian Steve Martin takes on the art world in his novel An Object of Beauty . Note that the word "an" is capitalized because it is the first word. Otherwise, it would be in lowercase.
  • If the book also has a subtitle, capitalize the first word of the subtitle just as you did the first word of the title.

Step 2 Type articles and prepositions in lowercase.

  • Articles include words such as "a," "an," and "the." Words such as "against," "in," and "to." Note that these words remain in lowercase regardless of their length.

Step 3 Distinguish coordinating conjunctions from subordinating conjunctions.

  • Coordinating conjunctions include words such as "and," "but," "for," and "nor."
  • Subordinating conjunctions include words such as "after," "although," because," "unless," and "until."

Step 4 Capitalize all other words in titles.

  • Example: Storytelling and Mythmaking: Images from Film and Literature

Tip: If you have doubts about the parts of speech of the words in a title, you can check your capitalization using free capitalization checkers available online.

Step 5 Use sentence style for titles in languages other than English.

  • Capitalize all words that would be capitalized in the language the title is written in. For example, since all nouns are capitalized in German, you would capitalize all nouns in a German book title.

Punctuating Titles

Step 1 Include punctuation that is part of the title or subtitle.

  • For example, if a title ends in an exclamation point or a question mark, you would include that punctuation mark at the end of the title. The punctuation mark should be italicized so that your readers understand that it's part of the title, not part of your punctuation.
  • If the book title ends in a question mark or an exclamation point, it's typically not a good idea to use that title at the end of a sentence, because then the punctuation mark at the end of the book title effectively becomes the punctuation mark for the end of your sentence. Recast your sentence so that the book title doesn't fall at the end of the sentence.

Step 2 Separate a subtitle from a title with a colon and a space.

  • There is an exception if the book title includes another book title, and the included book title ends in a question mark or exclamation point. Since that punctuation mark belongs to the included book title, you would follow that punctuation mark with a colon. For example: Moby Dick and Absalom, Absalom! : Two American Masterpieces Note that the colon is italicized.

Step 3 Place a period or comma after a title ending in a dash or ellipsis.

  • For example, you might write: "In the 1980s sitcom When Harry Met Sally. . . , the characters examined whether heterosexual cisgender men and women could be friends without ever becoming romantically or sexually involved."
  • Note that you'll have to form your sentence so that either a comma or a period is appropriate following the ellipsis or a dash.

Tip: Although it might be difficult for the average person to tell whether a punctuation mark such as a comma or period is italicized, technically any punctuation added to the end of the title should not be italicized.

Step 4 Use a semi-colon and the word or to separate alternate titles.

  • For example: England's Monitor; or, The History of Separation . Note that the "or" and all punctuation are also italicized.
  • Generally, list the original or oldest title first, followed by any later title.

Step 5 Add the serial comma if necessary for books published in the US.

  • For example, since the book Everything Is Nothing: The Poetry of the Great War, Revolution and the Transformation of Europe was published in London, the serial comma would not be added. However, if the book were published in the US, you would add a comma after the word "Revolution."

Expert Q&A

You might also like.

Quote and Cite a Poem in an Essay Using MLA Format

Expert Interview

books essay name

Thanks for reading our article! If you’d like to learn more about writing, check out our in-depth interview with Annaliese Dunne .

  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/writing_about_literature/formatting.html
  • ↑ https://style.mla.org/punctuation-with-titles/
  • ↑ https://style.mla.org/trilogy-titles/
  • ↑ https://style.mla.org/full-names-titles-in-each-chapter/
  • ↑ https://secondary.oslis.org/cite-sources/mla/how-to-capitalize-and-punctuate-titles
  • ↑ https://style.mla.org/capitalization-of-titles/
  • ↑ https://irsc.libguides.com/c.php?g=483085&p=3303403
  • ↑ https://morningside.libguides.com/MLA8/title

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  • APA Style - 7th edition
  • Specific Rules for Authors & Titles

APA Style - 7th edition: Specific Rules for Authors & Titles

  • Basic Information

Rules for Writing Author and Editor Information

Rules for writing titles.

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There are certain things to keep in mind when writing the author's name according to APA style. Authors may be individual people, multiple people, groups (institutions or organizations), or a combination of people and groups. 

  • You must include all the authors up to 20 for individual items. For example, if you are using an article that has 19 authors you must list them all out on your reference page. 
  • Use initials for the first and middle names of authors. Use one space between initials.
  • All names are inverted (last name, first initial).
  • Do not hyphenate a name unless it is hyphenated on the item.
  • Separate the author's names with a comma and use the ampersand symbol "&"  before the last author listed.
  • Spell out the name of any organization that is listed as an author.
  • If there is no author listed, the item title moves in front of the publication date and is used.

An item that you use may have an editor instead of an author or in the case of audiovisual materials a writer or director.

  • For editors follow the same rules above and put the abbreviation (Ed.) or (Eds.) behind the name(s). 
  • For audiovisual materials follow the same rules as above and put the specialized role (Writer) (Director) behind the name. 

Zhang, Y. H.  (one author)

Arnec, A., & Lavbic, D. (two authors)​

Kent State University (organization as author)

Barr, M. J. (Ed.). (1 editor)

Powell, R. R., & Westbrook, L. (Eds.). (2 editors)

here are certain things to keep in mind when writing a title according to APA style.

  • Book titles are italicized and written using sentence case (only the first word of a title, subtitle, or proper noun are capitalized).
  • Book chapter titles are written using sentence case and are not italicized.
  • Journal titles are italicized and written using title case (all the important words are capitalized).
  • Article titles are written using sentence case and are not italicized.
  • Webpages and websites are italicized and written using sentence case.

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (book title, American Psychological Association is a proper noun so it is capitalized)

Student perspective of plagiarism (book chapter title)

Internet plagiarism in higher education: Tendencies, trigging factors and reasons among teacher candidates (article title, Tendencies is the first word of a sub-title so it is capitalized)

Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education (journal title)

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  • Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023 4:23 PM
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How to Write a Book Title and Author in an Essay?

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So, you’re writing an essay, and you’re referencing a book. But how on earth do you write and cite the title and the author’s name correctly?

Do you use quotation marks? Italics? Punctuation? And what about capitalization?

The answer is a little more complicated than you might think. It all depends on the style of essay you’re writing, but once you’ve familiarized yourself with the rules for each one, it’s easy to mention and cite any book title and author’s name correctly, so you can get top marks from your instructor, each and every time.

Table of Contents

The Correct Way to Write a Book’s Title And Author in an Essay

In this post, we’ll look at the three most common essay formats used in the US and learn how to properly display book titles and author names in each one.

The Most Popular Essay Formats

The three most commonly used essay formats found in schools, universities, and higher education institutions across America are known as APA, MLA, and Chicago style.

The format your professor assigns will depend on the subject matter, the department, the purpose of the essay, and the instructor’s individual preferences.

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This is the go-to format for scientific essays, including many social and behavioural sciences.

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is the most frequently used format in humanities and liberal arts subjects, such as literature and history.

Chicago format, also known as Turabian after its creator, Kate L. Turabian, is commonly used in the publishing world and also in subjects such as anthropology, history, and selected social sciences.

Why is Using The Correct Format so Important?

The short answer is that you’ll receive a lower grade if you don’t.

But of course, there are many good reasons why proper formatting is important when writing papers and essays.

1. Consistency

Formats like APA, MLA, and Chicago provide a strict set of criteria to stick to throughout an essay, ensuring consistency.

Consistency avoids confusion for the reader and helps them to quickly and easily identify what the writer is trying to say.

2. References And Research

Sticking with one style or format makes it easier for readers to check citations and conduct further research into the chosen topic.

3. Demonstrating Understanding

In academic settings, adhering to a particular style guide, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, demonstrates your understanding of the rules and principles of written material within that field.

This shows that you don’t just understand the subject; you also know how to write about it.

4. Preparation For Future Studies

Suppose you’re a high school student or a college undergrad, familiarizing yourself with the basic principles of essay formatting. In that case, it is a great way to prepare yourself for your future academic pursuits, especially if you plan to progress onto a graduate or postgraduate program.

How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of an APA Style Essay?

Here are the key rules to remember when writing book titles in the main body of an APA-style essay:

  • Use quotation marks (not italics) on either side of the book’s title (with the exception of the holy texts like the Bible and reference works like dictionaries and almanacs).
  • The first word of the title should be capitalized.
  • All words and terms containing more than four letters or symbols should be capitalized.
  • Any two-part words containing a hyphen should be capitalized.
  • Words placed directly after a colon or dash should also be capitalized.

For example, “Slaughterhouse-Five”

How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of an MLA or Chicago Style Essay?

MLA and Chicago-style essays use similar rules when it comes to mentioning book titles in the main body of an essay. Here are the key things to remember when using either of these formats:

  • The book’s title should be displayed in italics (not quotation marks), with the exception of holy texts like the Bible.
  • If the title contains punctuation, this should be italicized, too.
  • All verbs, nouns, and adjectives should be capitalized.
  • If you’re referring to a chapter or mentioning a book alongside the series it belongs to, use quotation marks, not italics.

For example,

O ne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, or “A Clash of Kings” from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

1. Avoid Capitalizing Minor Words

Unless they appear as the first word in a title, the following words should be displayed in lowercase.

  • Prepositions , such as on, in, at, and from.
  • Articles , such as the, a, and an.
  • Coordinating conjunctions , such as so, and, yet, but, and for.

This might sound a little complex at first, but it’s pretty simple and intuitive once you get the hang of it.

99% of the time, the book’s title as it is displayed on the front cover is correct for both MLA and Chicago-style essays.

How to Write a Book’s Title in The Main Body of a Handwritten Essay?

Handwritten essays used to be the norm, but these days, they’re most definitely the exception.

Still, there may be some instances where you’re asked to handwrite an essay rather than type it, in which case, you should follow the rules below.

1. Capitalization

The capitalization rules for writing book titles in the main body of a handwritten essay are the same as with typed essays.

So, if you’re handwriting an APA-style essay, make sure to capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title and do the same for every word containing more than four letters.

And when handwriting an MLA or Chicago-style essay, capitalize the first letter of the first word of the title and do the same for every word except for articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions.

2. Underlining

No matter the format, book titles should always be underlined when handwriting an essay

  • Underline the complete title, including any words that come after a colon or dash
  • Underline any punctuation that appears in the book’s title
  • Avoid underlining each word separately; always use one continuous line
  • Make your line as straight as possible by using a ruler or following the line on the paper

How to Cite a Book And its Author in a References or Works Cited Page?

So, now you know how to write the title of a book mentioned in the body of an essay.

But what do you do when you need to cite a book and its author in your references or works cited page?

To keep it simple, I’ll use Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 classic children’s novel , Anne of Green Gables, as an example for each essay style.

1. Book Citations in APA Style

Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in APA:

Last Name, First Names. (Year the book was published). Book title .

For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. (1908). Anne of Green Gables.

2. Book Citations in MLA Style

Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in MLA:

Last Name, First Names. Book title . City of Publication, Publisher, Year the book was published.

Note: You only need to include the city of publication if the book was published before 1900 or if the publisher is not based in the US.

For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables. L.C. Page & Co., 1908.

3. Book Citations in Chicago Style

Here’s the proper format for citing authors and their book titles in Chicago style:

Last Name, First Names. Book Title: Subtitle . City of publication: Publisher, Year the book was published.

Note: Just like with MLA style, you only need to include the city of publication if the book was published before 1900 or if the publisher is not based in the US.

For example, Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables . L.C. Page & Co., 1908.

4. Book Citations in a Hand Written Essay

If you’re handwriting an essay, you’ll no doubt be handwriting your references or works cited page, too.

In this case, you should still follow the appropriate formatting rules above in relation to the chosen essay style.

But where a title appears in italics in a printed essay, in a handwritten essay, it should be neatly underlined instead.

Missing Information

If you’ve searched high and low for a book’s publisher, publication date, or the city in which it was published, but you still can’t find the information, it’s generally acceptable to leave it out.

Essay writing is a skill that takes practice, and at first, the rules and principles of the different formats can seem complex. This is especially true when you’re writing about books and their authors or citing other people’s work.

But hopefully, this post has helped explain the structures used in each of the most commonly used formats so that next time you write an essay, you can be confident that you’re doing it right.

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The Best Reviewed Essay Collections of 2021

Featuring joan didion, rachel kushner, hanif abdurraqib, ann patchett, jenny diski, and more.

Book Marks logo

Well, friends, another grim and grueling plague year is drawing to a close, and that can mean only one thing: it’s time to put on our Book Marks stats hats and tabulate the best reviewed books of the past twelve months.

Yes, using reviews drawn from more than 150 publications, over the next two weeks we’ll be revealing the most critically-acclaimed books of 2021, in the categories of (deep breath): Memoir and Biography ; Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror ; Short Story Collections ; Essay Collections; Poetry; Mystery and Crime; Graphic Literature; Literature in Translation; General Fiction; and General Nonfiction.

Today’s installment: Essay Collections .

Brought to you by Book Marks , Lit Hub’s “Rotten Tomatoes for books.”

These Precious Days

1. These Precious Days by Ann Patchett (Harper)

21 Rave • 3 Positive • 1 Mixed Read Ann Patchett on creating the work space you need, here

“… excellent … Patchett has a talent for friendship and celebrates many of those friends here. She writes with pure love for her mother, and with humor and some good-natured exasperation at Karl, who is such a great character he warrants a book of his own. Patchett’s account of his feigned offer to buy a woman’s newly adopted baby when she expresses unwarranted doubts is priceless … The days that Patchett refers to are precious indeed, but her writing is anything but. She describes deftly, with a line or a look, and I considered the absence of paragraphs freighted with adjectives to be a mercy. I don’t care about the hue of the sky or the shade of the couch. That’s not writing; it’s decorating. Or hiding. Patchett’s heart, smarts and 40 years of craft create an economy that delivers her perfectly understated stories emotionally whole. Her writing style is most gloriously her own.”

–Alex Witchel ( The New York Times Book Review )

2. Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (Knopf)

14 Rave • 12 Positive • 6 Mixed Read an excerpt from Let Me Tell You What I Mean here

“In five decades’ worth of essays, reportage and criticism, Didion has documented the charade implicit in how things are, in a first-person, observational style that is not sacrosanct but common-sensical. Seeing as a way of extrapolating hypocrisy, disingenuousness and doubt, she’ll notice the hydrangeas are plastic and mention it once, in passing, sorting the scene. Her gaze, like a sentry on the page, permanently trained on what is being disguised … The essays in Let Me Tell You What I Mean are at once funny and touching, roving and no-nonsense. They are about humiliation and about notions of rightness … Didion’s pen is like a periscope onto the creative mind—and, as this collection demonstrates, it always has been. These essays offer a direct line to what’s in the offing.”

–Durga Chew-Bose ( The New York Times Book Review )

3. Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit (Viking)

12 Rave • 13 Positive • 1 Mixed Read an excerpt from Orwell’s Roses here

“… on its simplest level, a tribute by one fine essayist of the political left to another of an earlier generation. But as with any of Solnit’s books, such a description would be reductive: the great pleasure of reading her is spending time with her mind, its digressions and juxtapositions, its unexpected connections. Only a few contemporary writers have the ability to start almost anywhere and lead the reader on paths that, while apparently meandering, compel unfailingly and feel, by the end, cosmically connected … Somehow, Solnit’s references to Ross Gay, Michael Pollan, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Peter Coyote (to name but a few) feel perfectly at home in the narrative; just as later chapters about an eighteenth-century portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds and a visit to the heart of the Colombian rose-growing industry seem inevitable and indispensable … The book provides a captivating account of Orwell as gardener, lover, parent, and endlessly curious thinker … And, movingly, she takes the time to find the traces of Orwell the gardener and lover of beauty in his political novels, and in his insistence on the value and pleasure of things .”

–Claire Messud ( Harper’s )

4. Girlhood by Melissa Febos (Bloomsbury)

16 Rave • 5 Positive • 1 Mixed Read an excerpt from Girlhood here

“Every once in a while, a book comes along that feels so definitive, so necessary, that not only do you want to tell everyone to read it now, but you also find yourself wanting to go back in time and tell your younger self that you will one day get to read something that will make your life make sense. Melissa Febos’s fierce nonfiction collection, Girlhood , might just be that book. Febos is one of our most passionate and profound essayists … Girlhood …offers us exquisite, ferocious language for embracing self-pleasure and self-love. It’s a book that women will wish they had when they were younger, and that they’ll rejoice in having now … Febos is a balletic memoirist whose capacious gaze can take in so many seemingly disparate things and unfurl them in a graceful, cohesive way … Intellectual and erotic, engaging and empowering[.]”

–Michelle Hart ( Oprah Daily )

Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told?

5. Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told by Jenny Diski (Bloomsbury)

14 Rave • 7 Positive

“[Diski’s] reputation as an original, witty and cant-free thinker on the way we live now should be given a significant boost. Her prose is elegant and amused, as if to counter her native melancholia and includes frequent dips into memorable images … Like the ideal artist Henry James conjured up, on whom nothing is lost, Diski notices everything that comes her way … She is discerning about serious topics (madness and death) as well as less fraught material, such as fashion … in truth Diski’s first-person voice is like no other, selectively intimate but not overbearingly egotistic, like, say, Norman Mailer’s. It bears some resemblance to Joan Didion’s, if Didion were less skittish and insistently stylish and generated more warmth. What they have in common is their innate skepticism and the way they ask questions that wouldn’t occur to anyone else … Suffice it to say that our culture, enmeshed as it is in carefully arranged snapshots of real life, needs Jenny Diski, who, by her own admission, ‘never owned a camera, never taken one on holiday.’” It is all but impossible not to warm up to a writer who observes herself so keenly … I, in turn, wish there were more people around who thought like Diski. The world would be a more generous, less shallow and infinitely more intriguing place.”

–Daphne Merkin ( The New York Times Book Review )

6. The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner (Scribner)

12 Rave • 7 Positive Listen to an interview with Rachel Kushner here

“Whether she’s writing about Jeff Koons, prison abolition or a Palestinian refugee camp in Jerusalem, [Kushner’s] interested in appearances, and in the deeper currents a surface detail might betray … Her writing is magnetised by outlaw sensibility, hard lives lived at a slant, art made in conditions of ferment and unrest, though she rarely serves a platter that isn’t style-mag ready … She makes a pretty convincing case for a political dimension to Jeff Koons’s vacuities and mirrored surfaces, engages repeatedly with the Italian avant garde and writes best of all about an artist friend whose death undoes a spell of nihilism … It’s not just that Kushner is looking back on the distant city of youth; more that she’s the sole survivor of a wild crowd done down by prison, drugs, untimely death … What she remembers is a whole world, but does the act of immortalising it in language also drain it of its power,’neon, in pink, red, and warm white, bleeding into the fog’? She’s mining a rich seam of specificity, her writing charged by the dangers she ran up against. And then there’s the frank pleasure of her sentences, often shorn of definite articles or odd words, so they rev and bucket along … That New Journalism style, live hard and keep your eyes open, has long since given way to the millennial cult of the personal essay, with its performance of pain, its earnest display of wounds received and lessons learned. But Kushner brings it all flooding back. Even if I’m skeptical of its dazzle, I’m glad to taste something this sharp, this smart.”

–Olivia Laing ( The Guardian )

7. The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century by Amia Srinivasan (FSG)

12 Rave • 7 Positive • 5 Mixed • 1 Pan

“[A] quietly dazzling new essay collection … This is, needless to say, fraught terrain, and Srinivasan treads it with determination and skill … These essays are works of both criticism and imagination. Srinivasan refuses to resort to straw men; she will lay out even the most specious argument clearly and carefully, demonstrating its emotional power, even if her ultimate intention is to dismantle it … This, then, is a book that explicitly addresses intersectionality, even if Srinivasan is dissatisfied with the common—and reductive—understanding of the term … Srinivasan has written a compassionate book. She has also written a challenging one … Srinivasan proposes the kind of education enacted in this brilliant, rigorous book. She coaxes our imaginations out of the well-worn grooves of the existing order.”

–Jennifer Szalai ( The New York Times )

8. A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)

13 Rave • 4 Positive Listen to an interview with Hanif Abdurraqib here

“[A] wide, deep, and discerning inquest into the Beauty of Blackness as enacted on stages and screens, in unanimity and discord, on public airwaves and in intimate spaces … has brought to pop criticism and cultural history not just a poet’s lyricism and imagery but also a scholar’s rigor, a novelist’s sense of character and place, and a punk-rocker’s impulse to dislodge conventional wisdom from its moorings until something shakes loose and is exposed to audiences too lethargic to think or even react differently … Abdurraqib cherishes this power to enlarge oneself within or beyond real or imagined restrictions … Abdurraqib reminds readers of the massive viewing audience’s shock and awe over seeing one of the world’s biggest pop icons appearing midfield at this least radical of American rituals … Something about the seemingly insatiable hunger Abdurraqib shows for cultural transaction, paradoxical mischief, and Beauty in Blackness tells me he’ll get to such matters soon enough.”

–Gene Seymour ( Bookforum )

9. On Animals by Susan Orlean (Avid Reader Press)

11 Rave • 6 Positive • 1 Mixed Listen to an interview with Susan Orlean here

“I very much enjoyed Orlean’s perspective in these original, perceptive, and clever essays showcasing the sometimes strange, sometimes sick, sometimes tender relationships between people and animals … whether Orlean is writing about one couple’s quest to find their lost dog, the lives of working donkeys of the Fez medina in Morocco, or a man who rescues lions (and happily allows even full grown males to gently chew his head), her pages are crammed with quirky characters, telling details, and flabbergasting facts … Readers will find these pages full of astonishments … Orlean excels as a reporter…Such thorough reporting made me long for updates on some of these stories … But even this criticism only testifies to the delight of each of the urbane and vivid stories in this collection. Even though Orlean claims the animals she writes about remain enigmas, she makes us care about their fates. Readers will continue to think about these dogs and donkeys, tigers and lions, chickens and pigeons long after we close the book’s covers. I hope most of them are still well.”

–Sy Montgomery ( The Boston Globe )

10. Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache from the American South  by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions)

9 Rave • 5 Positive Read Margaret Renkl on finding ideas everywhere, here

“Renkl’s sense of joyful belonging to the South, a region too often dismissed on both coasts in crude stereotypes and bad jokes, co-exists with her intense desire for Southerners who face prejudice or poverty finally to be embraced and supported … Renkl at her most tender and most fierce … Renkl’s gift, just as it was in her first book Late Migrations , is to make fascinating for others what is closest to her heart … Any initial sense of emotional whiplash faded as as I proceeded across the six sections and realized that the book is largely organized around one concept, that of fair and loving treatment for all—regardless of race, class, sex, gender or species … What rises in me after reading her essays is Lewis’ famous urging to get in good trouble to make the world fairer and better. Many people in the South are doing just that—and through her beautiful writing, Renkl is among them.”

–Barbara J. King ( NPR )

Our System:

RAVE = 5 points • POSITIVE = 3 points • MIXED = 1 point • PAN = -5 points

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50 Must-Read Contemporary Essay Collections

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Liberty Hardy

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

View All posts by Liberty Hardy

I feel like essay collections don’t get enough credit. They’re so wonderful! They’re like short story collections, but TRUE. It’s like going to a truth buffet. You can get information about sooooo many topics, sometimes in one single book! To prove that there are a zillion amazing essay collections out there, I compiled 50 great contemporary essay collections, just from the last 18 months alone.  Ranging in topics from food, nature, politics, sex, celebrity, and more, there is something here for everyone!

I’ve included a brief description from the publisher with each title. Tell us in the comments about which of these you’ve read or other contemporary essay collections that you love. There are a LOT of them. Yay, books!

Must-Read Contemporary Essay Collections

They can’t kill us until they kill us  by hanif abdurraqib.

“In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib’s is a voice that matters. Whether he’s attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown’s grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.”

Would Everybody Please Stop?: Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas  by Jenny Allen

“Jenny Allen’s musings range fluidly from the personal to the philosophical. She writes with the familiarity of someone telling a dinner party anecdote, forgoing decorum for candor and comedy. To read  Would Everybody Please Stop?  is to experience life with imaginative and incisive humor.”

Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds  by Yemisi Aribisala

“A sumptuous menu of essays about Nigerian cuisine, lovingly presented by the nation’s top epicurean writer. As well as a mouth-watering appraisal of Nigerian food,  Longthroat Memoirs  is a series of love letters to the Nigerian palate. From the cultural history of soup, to fish as aphrodisiac and the sensual allure of snails,  Longthroat Memoirs  explores the complexities, the meticulousness, and the tactile joy of Nigerian gastronomy.”

Beyond Measure: Essays  by Rachel Z. Arndt

“ Beyond Measure  is a fascinating exploration of the rituals, routines, metrics and expectations through which we attempt to quantify and ascribe value to our lives. With mordant humor and penetrating intellect, Arndt casts her gaze beyond event-driven narratives to the machinery underlying them: judo competitions measured in weigh-ins and wait times; the significance of the elliptical’s stationary churn; the rote scripts of dating apps; the stupefying sameness of the daily commute.”

Magic Hours  by Tom Bissell

“Award-winning essayist Tom Bissell explores the highs and lows of the creative process. He takes us from the set of  The Big Bang Theory  to the first novel of Ernest Hemingway to the final work of David Foster Wallace; from the films of Werner Herzog to the film of Tommy Wiseau to the editorial meeting in which Paula Fox’s work was relaunched into the world. Originally published in magazines such as  The Believer ,  The New Yorker , and  Harper’s , these essays represent ten years of Bissell’s best writing on every aspect of creation—be it Iraq War documentaries or video-game character voices—and will provoke as much thought as they do laughter.”

Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession  by Alice Bolin

“In this poignant collection, Alice Bolin examines iconic American works from the essays of Joan Didion and James Baldwin to  Twin Peaks , Britney Spears, and  Serial , illuminating the widespread obsession with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster men’s stories. Smart and accessible, thoughtful and heartfelt, Bolin investigates the implications of our cultural fixations, and her own role as a consumer and creator.”

Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life  by Jenny Boully

“Jenny Boully’s essays are ripe with romance and sensual pleasures, drawing connections between the digression, reflection, imagination, and experience that characterizes falling in love as well as the life of a writer. Literary theory, philosophy, and linguistics rub up against memory, dreamscapes, and fancy, making the practice of writing a metaphor for the illusory nature of experience.  Betwixt and Between  is, in many ways, simply a book about how to live.”

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun

“In  Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give , Ada Calhoun presents an unflinching but also loving portrait of her own marriage, opening a long-overdue conversation about the institution as it truly is: not the happy ending of a love story or a relic doomed by high divorce rates, but the beginning of a challenging new chapter of which ‘the first twenty years are the hardest.'”

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays  by Alexander Chee

“ How to Write an Autobiographical Novel  is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel,  Edinburgh , and the election of Donald Trump.”

Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays  by Durga Chew-Bose

“ Too Much and Not the Mood is a beautiful and surprising exploration of what it means to be a first-generation, creative young woman working today. On April 11, 1931, Virginia Woolf ended her entry in A Writer’s Diary with the words ‘too much and not the mood’ to describe her frustration with placating her readers, what she described as the ‘cramming in and the cutting out.’ She wondered if she had anything at all that was truly worth saying. The attitude of that sentiment inspired Durga Chew-Bose to gather own writing in this lyrical collection of poetic essays that examine personhood and artistic growth. Drawing inspiration from a diverse group of incisive and inquiring female authors, Chew-Bose captures the inner restlessness that keeps her always on the brink of creative expression.”

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy  by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“‘We were eight years in power’ was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s ‘first white president.'”

Look Alive Out There: Essays by Sloane Crosley

“In  Look Alive Out There,  whether it’s scaling active volcanoes, crashing shivas, playing herself on  Gossip Girl,  befriending swingers, or squinting down the barrel of the fertility gun, Crosley continues to rise to the occasion with unmatchable nerve and electric one-liners. And as her subjects become more serious, her essays deliver not just laughs but lasting emotional heft and insight. Crosley has taken up the gauntlets thrown by her predecessors—Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, David Sedaris—and crafted something rare, affecting, and true.”

Fl â neuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London  by Lauren Elkin

“Part cultural meander, part memoir,  Flâneuse  takes us on a distinctly cosmopolitan jaunt that begins in New York, where Elkin grew up, and transports us to Paris via Venice, Tokyo, and London, all cities in which she’s lived. We are shown the paths beaten by such  flâneuses  as the cross-dressing nineteenth-century novelist George Sand, the Parisian artist Sophie Calle, the wartime correspondent Martha Gellhorn, and the writer Jean Rhys. With tenacity and insight, Elkin creates a mosaic of what urban settings have meant to women, charting through literature, art, history, and film the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes fraught relationship that women have with the metropolis.”

Idiophone  by Amy Fusselman

“Leaping from ballet to quiltmaking, from the The Nutcracker to an Annie-B Parson interview,  Idiophone  is a strikingly original meditation on risk-taking and provocation in art and a unabashedly honest, funny, and intimate consideration of art-making in the context of motherhood, and motherhood in the context of addiction. Amy Fusselman’s compact, beautifully digressive essay feels both surprising and effortless, fueled by broad-ranging curiosity, and, fundamentally, joy.”

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture  by Roxane Gay

“In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are ‘routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied’ for speaking out.”

Sunshine State: Essays  by Sarah Gerard

“With the personal insight of  The Empathy Exams , the societal exposal of  Nickel and Dimed , and the stylistic innovation and intensity of her own break-out debut novel  Binary Star , Sarah Gerard’s  Sunshine State  uses the intimately personal to unearth the deep reservoirs of humanity buried in the corners of our world often hardest to face.”

The Art of the Wasted Day  by Patricia Hampl

“ The Art of the Wasted Day  is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of ‘retirement’ in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne—the hero of this book—who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.”

A Really Big Lunch: The Roving Gourmand on Food and Life  by Jim Harrison

“Jim Harrison’s legendary gourmandise is on full display in  A Really Big Lunch . From the titular  New Yorker  piece about a French lunch that went to thirty-seven courses, to pieces from  Brick ,  Playboy , Kermit Lynch Newsletter, and more on the relationship between hunter and prey, or the obscure language of wine reviews,  A Really Big Lunch  is shot through with Harrison’s pointed aperçus and keen delight in the pleasures of the senses. And between the lines the pieces give glimpses of Harrison’s life over the last three decades.  A Really Big Lunch  is a literary delight that will satisfy every appetite.”

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me  by Bill Hayes

“Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city’s incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.”

Would You Rather?: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out  by Katie Heaney

“Here, for the first time, Katie opens up about realizing at the age of twenty-eight that she is gay. In these poignant, funny essays, she wrestles with her shifting sexuality and identity, and describes what it was like coming out to everyone she knows (and everyone she doesn’t). As she revisits her past, looking for any ‘clues’ that might have predicted this outcome, Katie reveals that life doesn’t always move directly from point A to point B—no matter how much we would like it to.”

Tonight I’m Someone Else: Essays  by Chelsea Hodson

“From graffiti gangs and  Grand Theft Auto  to sugar daddies, Schopenhauer, and a deadly game of Russian roulette, in these essays, Chelsea Hodson probes her own desires to examine where the physical and the proprietary collide. She asks what our privacy, our intimacy, and our own bodies are worth in the increasingly digital world of liking, linking, and sharing.”

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.: Essays  by Samantha Irby

“With  We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. , ‘bitches gotta eat’ blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making ‘adult’ budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette—she’s ’35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something’—detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms—hang in there for the Costco loot—she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.”

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America  by Morgan Jerkins

“Doubly disenfranchised by race and gender, often deprived of a place within the mostly white mainstream feminist movement, black women are objectified, silenced, and marginalized with devastating consequences, in ways both obvious and subtle, that are rarely acknowledged in our country’s larger discussion about inequality. In  This Will Be My Undoing , Jerkins becomes both narrator and subject to expose the social, cultural, and historical story of black female oppression that influences the black community as well as the white, male-dominated world at large.”

Everywhere Home: A Life in Essays  by Fenton Johnson

“Part retrospective, part memoir, Fenton Johnson’s collection  Everywhere Home: A Life in Essays  explores sexuality, religion, geography, the AIDS crisis, and more. Johnson’s wanderings take him from the hills of Kentucky to those of San Francisco, from the streets of Paris to the sidewalks of Calcutta. Along the way, he investigates questions large and small: What’s the relationship between artists and museums, illuminated in a New Guinean display of shrunken heads? What’s the difference between empiricism and intuition?”

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays  by Scaachi Koul

“In  One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter , Scaachi Koul deploys her razor-sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. She learned from an early age what made her miserable, and for Scaachi anything can be cause for despair. Whether it’s a shopping trip gone awry; enduring awkward conversations with her bikini waxer; overcoming her fear of flying while vacationing halfway around the world; dealing with Internet trolls, or navigating the fears and anxieties of her parents. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color: where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn; where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.”

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions  by Valeria Luiselli and jon lee anderson (translator)

“A damning confrontation between the American dream and the reality of undocumented children seeking a new life in the U.S. Structured around the 40 questions Luiselli translates and asks undocumented Latin American children facing deportation,  Tell Me How It Ends  (an expansion of her 2016 Freeman’s essay of the same name) humanizes these young migrants and highlights the contradiction between the idea of America as a fiction for immigrants and the reality of racism and fear—both here and back home.”

All the Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers  by Alana Massey

“Mixing Didion’s affected cool with moments of giddy celebrity worship, Massey examines the lives of the women who reflect our greatest aspirations and darkest fears back onto us. These essays are personal without being confessional and clever in a way that invites readers into the joke. A cultural critique and a finely wrought fan letter, interwoven with stories that are achingly personal, All the Lives I Want is also an exploration of mental illness, the sex industry, and the dangers of loving too hard.”

Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish: Essays  by Tom McCarthy

“Certain points of reference recur with dreamlike insistence—among them the artist Ed Ruscha’s  Royal Road Test , a photographic documentation of the roadside debris of a Royal typewriter hurled from the window of a traveling car; the great blooms of jellyfish that are filling the oceans and gumming up the machinery of commerce and military domination—and the question throughout is: How can art explode the restraining conventions of so-called realism, whether aesthetic or political, to engage in the active reinvention of the world?”

Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America  by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding

“When 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump and 94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton, how can women unite in Trump’s America? Nasty Women includes inspiring essays from a diverse group of talented women writers who seek to provide a broad look at how we got here and what we need to do to move forward.”

Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life  by Peggy Orenstein

“Named one of the ’40 women who changed the media business in the last 40 years’ by  Columbia Journalism Review , Peggy Orenstein is one of the most prominent, unflinching feminist voices of our time. Her writing has broken ground and broken silences on topics as wide-ranging as miscarriage, motherhood, breast cancer, princess culture and the importance of girls’ sexual pleasure. Her unique blend of investigative reporting, personal revelation and unexpected humor has made her books bestselling classics.”

When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments  by Kelly Oxford

“Kelly Oxford likes to blow up the internet. Whether it is with the kind of Tweets that lead  Rolling Stone  to name her one of the Funniest People on Twitter or with pictures of her hilariously adorable family (human and animal) or with something much more serious, like creating the hashtag #NotOkay, where millions of women came together to share their stories of sexual assault, Kelly has a unique, razor-sharp perspective on modern life. As a screen writer, professional sh*t disturber, wife and mother of three, Kelly is about everything but the status quo.”

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman  by Anne Helen Petersen

“You know the type: the woman who won’t shut up, who’s too brazen, too opinionated—too much. She’s the unruly woman, and she embodies one of the most provocative and powerful forms of womanhood today. In  Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud , Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of ‘unruliness’ to explore the ascension of pop culture powerhouses like Lena Dunham, Nicki Minaj, and Kim Kardashian, exploring why the public loves to love (and hate) these controversial figures. With its brisk, incisive analysis,  Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud  will be a conversation-starting book on what makes and breaks celebrity today.”

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist  by Franchesca Ramsey

“In her first book, Ramsey uses her own experiences as an accidental activist to explore the many ways we communicate with each other—from the highs of bridging gaps and making connections to the many pitfalls that accompany talking about race, power, sexuality, and gender in an unpredictable public space…the internet.”

Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls  by Elizabeth Renzetti

“Drawing upon Renzetti’s decades of reporting on feminist issues,  Shrewed  is a book about feminism’s crossroads. From Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign to the quest for equal pay, from the lessons we can learn from old ladies to the future of feminism in a turbulent world, Renzetti takes a pointed, witty look at how far we’ve come—and how far we have to go.”

What Are We Doing Here?: Essays  by Marilynne Robinson

“In this new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern political climate and the mysteries of faith. Whether she is investigating how the work of great thinkers about America like Emerson and Tocqueville inform our political consciousness or discussing the way that beauty informs and disciplines daily life, Robinson’s peerless prose and boundless humanity are on full display.”

Double Bind: Women on Ambition  by Robin Romm

“‘A work of courage and ferocious honesty’ (Diana Abu-Jaber),  Double Bind  could not come at a more urgent time. Even as major figures from Gloria Steinem to Beyoncé embrace the word ‘feminism,’ the word ‘ambition’ remains loaded with ambivalence. Many women see it as synonymous with strident or aggressive, yet most feel compelled to strive and achieve—the seeming contradiction leaving them in a perpetual double bind. Ayana Mathis, Molly Ringwald, Roxane Gay, and a constellation of ‘nimble thinkers . . . dismantle this maddening paradox’ ( O, The Oprah Magazine ) with candor, wit, and rage. Women who have made landmark achievements in fields as diverse as law, dog sledding, and butchery weigh in, breaking the last feminist taboo once and for all.”

The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life  by Richard Russo

“In these nine essays, Richard Russo provides insight into his life as a writer, teacher, friend, and reader. From a commencement speech he gave at Colby College, to the story of how an oddly placed toilet made him reevaluate the purpose of humor in art and life, to a comprehensive analysis of Mark Twain’s value, to his harrowing journey accompanying a dear friend as she pursued gender-reassignment surgery,  The Destiny Thief  reflects the broad interests and experiences of one of America’s most beloved authors. Warm, funny, wise, and poignant, the essays included here traverse Russo’s writing life, expanding our understanding of who he is and how his singular, incredibly generous mind works. An utter joy to read, they give deep insight into the creative process from the prospective of one of our greatest writers.”

Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race by Naben Ruthnum

“Curry is a dish that doesn’t quite exist, but, as this wildly funny and sharp essay points out, a dish that doesn’t properly exist can have infinite, equally authentic variations. By grappling with novels, recipes, travelogues, pop culture, and his own upbringing, Naben Ruthnum depicts how the distinctive taste of curry has often become maladroit shorthand for brown identity. With the sardonic wit of Gita Mehta’s  Karma Cola  and the refined, obsessive palette of Bill Buford’s  Heat , Ruthnum sinks his teeth into the story of how the beloved flavor calcified into an aesthetic genre that limits the imaginations of writers, readers, and eaters.”

The River of Consciousness  by Oliver Sacks

“Sacks, an Oxford-educated polymath, had a deep familiarity not only with literature and medicine but with botany, animal anatomy, chemistry, the history of science, philosophy, and psychology.  The River of Consciousness  is one of two books Sacks was working on up to his death, and it reveals his ability to make unexpected connections, his sheer joy in knowledge, and his unceasing, timeless project to understand what makes us human.”

All the Women in My Family Sing: Women Write the World: Essays on Equality, Justice, and Freedom (Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God)  by Deborah Santana and America Ferrera

“ All the Women in My Family Sing  is an anthology documenting the experiences of women of color at the dawn of the twenty-first century. It is a vital collection of prose and poetry whose topics range from the pressures of being the vice-president of a Fortune 500 Company, to escaping the killing fields of Cambodia, to the struggles inside immigration, identity, romance, and self-worth. These brief, trenchant essays capture the aspirations and wisdom of women of color as they exercise autonomy, creativity, and dignity and build bridges to heal the brokenness in today’s turbulent world.”

We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America  by Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page

“For some, ‘passing’ means opportunity, access, or safety. Others don’t willingly pass but are ‘passed’ in specific situations by someone else.  We Wear the Mask , edited by  Brando Skyhorse  and  Lisa Page , is an illuminating and timely anthology that examines the complex reality of passing in America. Skyhorse, a Mexican American, writes about how his mother passed him as an American Indian before he learned who he really is. Page shares how her white mother didn’t tell friends about her black ex-husband or that her children were, in fact, biracial.”

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

“Since she burst spectacularly into view with her debut novel almost two decades ago, Zadie Smith has established herself not just as one of the world’s preeminent fiction writers, but also a brilliant and singular essayist. She contributes regularly to  The New Yorker  and the  New York Review of Books  on a range of subjects, and each piece of hers is a literary event in its own right.”

The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions  by Rebecca Solnit

“In a timely follow-up to her national bestseller  Men Explain Things to Me , Rebecca Solnit offers indispensable commentary on women who refuse to be silenced, misogynistic violence, the fragile masculinity of the literary canon, the gender binary, the recent history of rape jokes, and much more. In characteristic style, Solnit mixes humor, keen analysis, and powerful insight in these essays.”

The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays  by Megan Stielstra

“Whether she’s imagining the implications of open-carry laws on college campuses, recounting the story of going underwater on the mortgage of her first home, or revealing the unexpected pains and joys of marriage and motherhood, Stielstra’s work informs, impels, enlightens, and embraces us all. The result is something beautiful—this story, her courage, and, potentially, our own.”

Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms  by Michelle Tea

“Delivered with her signature honesty and dark humor, this is Tea’s first-ever collection of journalistic writing. As she blurs the line between telling other people’s stories and her own, she turns an investigative eye to the genre that’s nurtured her entire career—memoir—and considers the price that art demands be paid from life.”

A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause  by Shawn Wen

“In precise, jewel-like scenes and vignettes,  A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause  pays homage to the singular genius of a mostly-forgotten art form. Drawing on interviews, archival research, and meticulously observed performances, Wen translates the gestural language of mime into a lyric written portrait by turns whimsical, melancholic, and haunting.”

Acid West: Essays  by Joshua Wheeler

“The radical evolution of American identity, from cowboys to drone warriors to space explorers, is a story rooted in southern New Mexico.  Acid West  illuminates this history, clawing at the bounds of genre to reveal a place that is, for better or worse, home. By turns intimate, absurd, and frightening,  Acid West  is an enlightening deep-dive into a prophetic desert at the bottom of America.”

Sexographies  by Gabriela Wiener and Lucy Greaves And jennifer adcock (Translators)

“In fierce and sumptuous first-person accounts, renowned Peruvian journalist Gabriela Wiener records infiltrating the most dangerous Peruvian prison, participating in sexual exchanges in swingers clubs, traveling the dark paths of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris in the company of transvestites and prostitutes, undergoing a complicated process of egg donation, and participating in a ritual of ayahuasca ingestion in the Amazon jungle—all while taking us on inward journeys that explore immigration, maternity, fear of death, ugliness, and threesomes. Fortunately, our eagle-eyed voyeur emerges from her narrative forays unscathed and ready to take on the kinks, obsessions, and messiness of our lives.  Sexographies  is an eye-opening, kamikaze journey across the contours of the human body and mind.”

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative  by Florence Williams

“From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.”

Can You Tolerate This?: Essays  by Ashleigh Young

“ Can You Tolerate This?  presents a vivid self-portrait of an introspective yet widely curious young woman, the colorful, isolated community in which she comes of age, and the uneasy tensions—between safety and risk, love and solitude, the catharsis of grief and the ecstasy of creation—that define our lives.”

What are your favorite contemporary essay collections?

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How to come up with book title ideas.

Need an original book title, and fast? We got you. Here are 8 ways to come up with book title ideas. 

1. Start free writing to find keywords

Write absolutely anything that comes into your head: words, phrases, names, places, adjectives — the works. You’ll be surprised how much workable content comes out from such a strange exercise.

2. Experiment with word patterns

Obviously, we’re not advocating plagiarism, but try playing around with formats like:

“The _____ of _______”
“______ and the _____”

These will work for certain genres, though they are by no means the only patterns you can play around with. Have you noticed how many blockbuster thrillers these days feature the word “woman” or “ girl” somewhere in the title?

3. Draw inspiration from your characters 

If your central character has a quirky name or a title (like Doctor or Detective) you can definitely incorporate this into your book title. Just look at Jane Eyre, Percy Jackson, or Harry Potter, for instance — working with one or more or your characters’ names is a surefire way to get some title ideas down. Equally, you can add a little detail, like Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, to add a little color to a name and make it title-worthy.

4. Keep your setting in mind

Is your book set somewhere particularly interesting or significant? Even if your title isn’t just where the action takes place (like Middlemarch by George Eliot), it’s something to have in the back of your mind. You can include other details, like The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum or Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay, to give your readers a sense of action and character, as well as setting (which tend to be linked).

5. Look for book title ideas in famous phrases 

Think Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird here — this is a central symbol and significant piece of dialogue in the novel. It’s enigmatic (what does it even mean? Is it a warning? An instruction?) and makes us really sit up when these words appear in the text itself. Try and think of your inspiration for writing your book or sum up your central theme in a few words, and see if these inspire anything.

6. Analyze the book titles of other books

You might be surprised at how many books refer to other works in their titles ( The Fault in Our Stars by John Green comes from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar , and Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men takes its inspiration from a Robert Burns poem). Going this route allows authors to use an already beautiful and poetic turn of phrase that alludes to a theme in their own book. From Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials , so many books have used this technique that might also work for you.

7. Don’t forget the subtitle

In non-fiction publishing, there’s a trend of evocative or abstract titles, followed by a subtitle that communicates the content (and is packed with delicious keywords that the Amazon search engine can’t resist). This is also another way to get around long titles — and to add a little panache to an otherwise dry subject matter. In the United States, it’s also quite common to have “A Novel” as a subtitle (if, you know, it’s a novel). In the United Kingdom, this practice is much rarer.

8. Generate a book name through a book title generator

If you’ve gone through all of the above and are still wringing out your brain trying to come up with the golden formula — fear not! There are other ways to get the cogs whirring and inspiration brewing, such as title generators.

And speaking of cogs whirring, let us present you with the...

15 best book titles of all time

Witty, eye-catching, memorable — these famous book titles have it all. Without further ado, here are 15 best book titles you can take inspiration from.

  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  • The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

Looking for even more story title ideas?

If you’re agonizing over your book title, you’re not alone! Some of the best book titles today emerged only after much teeth gnashing. The Sun Also Rises was once titled Fiesta ; Pride and Prejudice was once First Impressions . Then there was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who reportedly took forever to think of a good title. He ultimately discarded a dozen ( Gold-Hatted Gatsby , The High-Bouncing Lover , and Trimalchio in West Egg included) before reluctantly picking The Great Gatsby .

So it’s tough out there for a novelist, which is why we built this generator: to try and give you some inspiration. Any of the titles that you score through it are yours to use. We’d be even more delighted if you dropped us the success story at [email protected] ! If you find that you need even more of a spark beyond our generator, the Internet’s got you covered. Here are some of our other favorite generators on the web:

Fantasy Book Title Generators : Fantasy Name Generator , Serendipity: Fantasy Novel Titles

  • Sci-Fi Novel Title Generators : Book Title Creator , Story Title Generator

Romance Book Title Generators : Romance Title Generator

Crime Book Title Generators : Tara Sparling’s Crime Thriller Titles , Ruddenberg’s Generator

Mystery Novel Title Generators : The Generator .

Or if you think that generators are fun and all — but that you’d rather create your own book title? Great 👍 Kick off with this post, which is all about how to choose your book title . And once you've got the words down, make sure you capitalize your title correctly .

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Essay on Books for Students and Children

Children's Books

500 Words Essay on Books

Books are referred to as a man’s best friend . They are very beneficial for mankind and have helped it evolve. There is a powerhouse of information and knowledge. Books offer us so many things without asking for anything in return. Books leave a deep impact on us and are responsible for uplifting our mood.

Essay on Books

This is why we suggest children read books from an early age to gain knowledge. The best part about books is that there are various types of books. One can read any type to gain different types of knowledge. Reading must be done by people of all ages. It not only widens our thinking but also enhances our vocabulary.

Different Genres of Books

There are different genres of books available for book readers. Every day, thousands of books are released in the market ranging from travel books to fictional books. We can pick any book of our interest to expand our knowledge and enjoy the reading experience.

Firstly, we have travel books, which tell us about the experience of various travelers. They introduce us to different places in the world without moving from our place. It gives us traveling tips which we can use in the future. Then, we have history books which state historical events. They teach about the eras and how people lived in times gone by.

Furthermore, we have technology books that teach us about technological developments and different equipment. You can also read fashion and lifestyle books to get up to date with the latest trends in the fashion industry.

Most importantly, there are self-help books and motivational books . These books help in the personality development of an individual. They inspire us to do well in life and also bring a positive change in ourselves. Finally, we have fictional books. They are based on the writer’s imagination and help us in enhancing our imagination too. They are very entertaining and keep us intrigued until the very end.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Benefits of Reading Books

There are not one but various advantages of reading books. To begin with, it improves our knowledge on a variety of subjects. Moreover, it makes us wiser. When we learn different things, we learn to deal with them differently too. Similarly, books also keep us entertained. They kill our boredom and give us great company when we are alone.

Furthermore, books help us to recognize our areas of interest. They also determine our career choice to a great extent. Most importantly, books improve our vocabulary . We learn new words from it and that widens our vocabulary. In addition, books boost our creativity. They help us discover a completely new side.

In other words, books make us more fluent in languages. They enhance our writing skills too. Plus, we become more confident after the knowledge of books. They help us in debating, public speaking , quizzes and more.

In short, books give us a newer perspective and gives us a deeper understanding of things. It impacts our personality positively as well. Thus, we see how books provide us with so many benefits. We should encourage everyone to read more books and useless phones.

FAQs on Books

Q.1 State the different genres of books.

A.1 Books come in different genres. Some of them are travel books, history books, technology books, fashion and lifestyle books, self-help books, motivational books, and fictional books.

Q.2 Why are books important?

A.2 Books are of great importance to mankind. They enhance our knowledge and vocabulary. They keep us entertained and also widen our perspective. This, in turn, makes us more confident and wise.

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For 23 years, I was Caroline. Here’s why I reclaimed my Chinese birth name.

books essay name

This story was first published on May 13, 2021.

At school pickup, my son’s teacher squinted out onto the playground at me. “J-J-Jia-...” she said, then gave up. “Joseph’s mom. We can’t expect everyone to Americanize their names.”

The thing is, I did.

For 23 years, my name was Caroline. My immigrant parents chose “Caroline” for our new life in a small American town. It was the 1980s. Yu-Ying became Diana, Tai-Jen became Jane, Ruey-Der became Ray. As a preschooler, I didn’t know the words for what we did then, but what we were going for was  assimilation , not ethnic identity.


Then when I got married, I changed my last name and my first name, reverting back to my Chinese birth name. We had just elected a president named Barack Obama (who’d gone by Barry as a child). If people could say “Barack,” they could handle “JiaYing,” right?

People change their names for all kinds of personal reasons. In 2002, 24 percent of name change petitioners replaced their name with something more generically American-sounding, according to Kirsten Fermaglich, author of “A Rosenberg by Any Other Name.” Only about 5 percent went the other direction and  switched to a more ethnically identifiable name .

Saying no to anglicized names

Pamela Redmond, CEO of the baby names website  Nameberry , still remembers what it was like when she was a kid in the ’50s and ’60s: If you weren’t named Barbara or Susan, basically you were a big weirdo. But now names are becoming more and more unusual, reflecting international cultures and traditions.

“The number of names in the American lexicon has just been increasing, increasing and increasing,” Redmond said. “America itself has become more diverse in terms of the kinds of names people use, the kinds of names that are acceptable. That is attractive.”

Having an uncommon name is a double-edged sword: you have to explain your name every time you meet someone new. I introduce myself with a mnemonic device, “JiaYing Grygiel, it rhymes with flying eagle.” At the same time, an uncommon name makes you the singular individual that a “Caroline” would never be.

“There is a really strong trend for people keeping their real names, not anglicizing their names or anglicizing the spellings,” Redmond said. “I think people are prouder of their names and less willing to give up that piece of their identity to fit in with some English-centric standard.”

The price of a weird name

True story: Did you hear the one about a Narayan, a JiaYing, a Thao and an Erika who went to a bar? The only person in the group with a job was Erika.

That’s right: An American-sounding name doesn’t just mean getting your Starbucks order spelled right. It means better job prospects.


A  2016 study by researchers at the University of Toronto and Stanford University  showed that companies are more than twice as likely to call minority applicants with “whitened” resumes for interviews, even when they had the same qualifications. Masking your ethnic identity might mean changing your name, or omitting minority experiences, or — my favorite — adding hobbies like hiking and snowboarding.

I eventually did find a job, as a non-snowboarding JiaYing, after submitting approximately a million resumes. A dozen years and many attempts to spell “JiaYing Grygiel’’ over the phone later, the novelty of my name wore off. My own husband refers to me as “Sweetie,” because he is a kind man and also he is a teeny bit afraid of saying my name out loud.


I gave my own kids names that they’d always be able to find on those keychains in souvenir shops: Joseph and Paul. “Why didn’t you pick something like ‘Kai-shek’?” a friend asked.

Well, other than that Kai-shek was an authoritarian ruler, my husband wanted names that would look good on a CEO’s door. I wanted names that would be easy to pronounce in English or Mandarin. “Joe? Did I say that right?” said no one ever.

Friends from my “Caroline” past have painstakingly learned how to pronounce JiaYing. (It’s JAH-ing.) It’s a name you have to make an effort to learn how to say. But it’s 2021, we’re culturally enlightened, and we’re not going to change someone’s ethnically diverse name to something easy.

Except my mother. To this day, she still refers to me as Caroline.

JiaYing Grygiel is a freelance photographer and writer who covers parenting, food, homes and design. She earned a master's degree from Syracuse University, but ditched the lake-effect snow for Seattle (you don't have to shovel rain). Follow her adventures with her family at photoj.net .

A painting of a young man who is holding a finger to his temple and furrowing his brow. He is wearing a dark green jacket.

Lord Byron Was Hard to Pin Down. That’s What Made Him Great.

Two hundred years after his death, this Romantic poet is still worth reading.

“Who would write, who had anything better to do?” Byron once said. Credit... Musée Fabre/Hulton Fine Art Collection, via Getty Images

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By Benjamin Markovits

Benjamin Markovits is the author of a trilogy of novels about Lord Byron, “Imposture,” “A Quiet Adjustment” and “Childish Loves.”

  • April 19, 2024

This week is the 200th anniversary of Lord Byron’s death. The most famous poet of his age (an odd phrase now) died fighting for Greek independence in the marshes of Missolonghi. “Who would write, who had anything better to do?” he once said. There was a strange contest over his body and memory: The lungs and larynx remained in Greece but friends carried the rest back to England, where huge crowds followed the funeral procession. A month after his death, his former editor burned his memoirs, worried they would damage the reputation of a superstar read around the world.

Does anyone read Byron now? He’s one of those unusual figures who have become better known for the lives they led than the books they wrote. Even some of his fans admire the letters more than the poems. It isn’t totally clear what it means to say that Byron is your favorite poet. Of the so-called Big Six Romantics, he’s the hardest to place. The hikers and the introverts read Wordsworth, the hippies love Blake, Keats is for the purists, Shelley for the political dreamers … and Byron? In spite of his fame, he lacks brand recognition. That’s partly because, halfway through his career, he decided to change the brand. “If I am sincere with myself,” he once wrote, “(but I fear one lies more to one’s self than to any one else), every page should confute, refute and utterly abjure its predecessor.”

All of which makes him a complicated sell. Academics trying to revive his reputation sometimes claim him as the anti-Romantic, a satirist who made fun of the movement’s clichés. Which is true. But he also wrote wonderful love poems, including two of his best-known lyrics, “ She Walks in Beauty ” and “ So We’ll Go No More a Roving .” Both are cleareyed about their own sentimentality, but more sad than satirical.

There are other ways of reclaiming him: as the first celebrity writer, as an early adopter of autofiction, for his sexual fluidity. He fell in love with both men and women, and slept with almost everybody, including his half sister, Augusta — which explains why his old editor, John Murray, decided to burn the memoirs.

Writers usually get famous because they touch a chord, and then keep playing it. And even if, as their work matures, they find ways to deepen the tone, it’s still recognizable; readers know what to expect from the product. And Byron touched a chord very young. His breakthrough poem — another odd phrase — was published when he was 24. “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” about a moody young nobleman who travels through war-torn Europe chased by some secret sorrow, made him a household name. Fan mail flowed in; women offered themselves in assignations. (Philip Roth joked in “The Ghost Writer” that for an author to get laid in New York you need only publish a couplet.) “Childe Harold” eventually stretched to four volumes.

Movie versions of Byron’s life tend to take the Childe Harold angle, presenting him as the beautiful young nobleman and exaggerating his Gothic or camp tendencies. He’s been played by Rupert Everett and Hugh Grant. You can find those elements in his writing, too, especially in the early verse, but then a few things changed. He got married, and the marriage went badly; he left England in 1816 and didn’t return; his fame hardened, and as it hardened, he began to realize that it didn’t really fit him.

People who met Byron for the first time expected him to be someone he wasn’t. This bugged him, not just as a human being but as a writer. He asked his friend Tom Moore to tell a well-known literary critic “that I was not, and, indeed, am not even now , the misanthropical and gloomy gentleman he takes me for, but a facetious companion, well to do with those with whom I am intimate, and as loquacious and laughing as if I were a much cleverer fellow.”

Byron was writing this from Venice after his separation from his wife. It was in many ways an unhappy couple of years. Still recovering from the trauma of his marriage, he overindulged himself, sexually and otherwise. The beautiful young nobleman was growing middle-aged. “Lord Byron could not have been more than 30,” one visitor remarked, “but he looked 40. His face had become pale, bloated and sallow. He had grown very fat, his shoulders broad and round, and the knuckles of his hands were lost in fat.” Some of Byron’s reputation for scandalous living dates to his stay in Venice. But he also made another literary breakthrough, finishing one long poem, “ Beppo ,” and starting his masterpiece, written “in the same style and manner” — “ Don Juan .”

“Don Juan” would occupy him for the rest of his short life. It cost him his relationship with Murray, who disapproved of the new tone in Byron’s writing. “You have so many ‘ divine ’ poems,” Byron told him. “Is it nothing to have written a Human one?” Around the time that Shelley was writing “ To a Skylark ” (“Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!”) and Keats was working on “ Ode to a Nightingale ” (“Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!”), Byron in “Beppo” was advising visitors who come to Venice for the Carnival to bring ketchup or soy with them, because Venetians give up sauce for Lent. But he was making a broader point, too. Poetical truths, about birds, about nature, don’t always rank high on the list of what matters. Poets should spend more time talking about things like money and food.

Part of what his early success taught him was to be suspicious of it, which meant being suspicious of writers — of the ways they lie to themselves and their readers. Keats, for example, was guilty of “a sort of mental masturbation,” Byron said. “I don’t mean that he is indecent but viciously soliciting his own ideas into a state which is neither poetry nor anything else.” The work of Leigh Hunt was “disfigured only by a strange style. His answer was that his style was a system … and, when a man talks of system, his case is hopeless.” Experience, Byron believed, was the real source of literary value. “Could any man have written it,” he said of “Don Juan,” “who has not lived in the world?”

But experience relies on the honesty of the writer, and honesty, as Byron knew, is not a simple virtue. His own style became increasingly hard to pin down and hard to imitate — there is nobody who writes quite like him. Sometimes he lays on the devices pretty thick (“He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell”), the way you might scatter salt over a meal to add all-purpose flavor. But he can also write poetry that is unabashedly prosy: “There might be one more motive, which makes two.” What he’s particularly good at is achieving vividness without metaphor or adjective: “I have imbibed such a love for money that I keep some Sequins in a drawer to count, & cry over them once a week.” This is classic Byron, self-mocking and sincere at the same time.

The overall effect is like someone pitching knuckle balls. He seems to be just tossing lines at you, almost carelessly or without effort, but they’re always moving unpredictably, and when you try to do it yourself, you realize how hard it is to throw without spin. Two centuries later, this still seems a talent worth celebrating.

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The best new science fiction books of May 2024

A new Stephen King short story collection, an Ursula K. Le Guin reissue and a celebration of cyberpunk featuring writing from Philip K. Dick and Cory Doctorow are among the new science fiction titles published this month

By Alison Flood

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A new short story collection from Stephen King, You Like It Darker, is out in May

Shane Leonard

Every month, I trawl through publishers’ catalogues so I can tell you about the new science fiction being released. And every month, I’m disappointed to see so much more fantasy on publishers’ lists than sci-fi. I know it’s a response to the huge boom in readers of what’s been dubbed “ romantasy ”, and I’m not knocking it – I love that sort of book too. But it would be great to see more good, hard, mind-expanding sci-fi in the offing as well.

In the meantime, there is definitely enough for us sci-fi fans to sink our teeth into this month, whether it’s a reissue of classic writing from Ursula K. Le Guin, some new speculative short stories from Stephen King or murder in space from Victor Manibo and S. A. Barnes.

Last month, I tipped Douglas Preston’s Extinction and Sofia Samatar’s The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain as books I was looking forward to. I can report that they were both excellent: Extinction was a lot of good, clean, Jurassic Park -tinged fun, while Samatar’s offering was a beautiful and thought-provoking look at life on a generation ship.

The Language of the Night: Essays on writing, science fiction, and fantasy by Ursula K. Le Guin

There are few sci-fi and fantasy writers more brilliant (and revered) than Ursula K. Le Guin. This reissue of her first full-length collection of essays features a new introduction from Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ken Liu and covers the writing of The Left Hand of Darkness and A Wizard of Earthsea , as well as her advocacy for sci-fi and fantasy as legitimate literary mediums. I’ve read some of these essays but not all, and I won’t be missing this collection.

Nuclear War: A Scenario by Annie Jacobsen

This isn’t science fiction, not quite, but it is one of the best and most important books I have read for some time. It sees Jacobsen lay out, minute by minute, what would happen if an intercontinental ballistic missile hit Washington DC. How would the US react? What, exactly, happens if deterrence fails? Jacobsen has spoken to dozens of military experts to put together what her publisher calls a “non-fiction thriller”, and what I call the scariest book I have possibly ever read (and I’m a Stephen King fan; see below). We’re currently reading it at the New Scientist Book Club, and you can sign up to join us here .

Read an extract from Nuclear War: A scenario by Annie Jacobsen

In this terrifying extract from Annie Jacobsen’s Nuclear War: A Scenario, the author lays out what would happen in the first seconds after a nuclear missile hits the Pentagon

The Big Book of Cyberpunk (Vol 1 & 2)

Forty years ago, William Gibson published Neuromancer . Since then, it has entranced millions of readers right from its unforgettable opening line: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel…”. Neuromancer gave us the literary genre that is cyberpunk, and we can now welcome a huge, two-volume anthology celebrating cyberpunk’s best stories, by writers from Cory Doctorow to Justina Robson, and from Samuel R. Delaney to Philip K. Dick. I have both glorious-sounding volumes, brought together by anthologist Jared Shurin, on my desk (using up most of the space on it), and I am looking forward to dipping in.

You Like It Darker by Stephen King

You could categorise Stephen King as a horror writer. I see him as an expert chronicler of the dark side of small-town America, and from The Tommyknockers and its aliens to Under the Dome with its literally divisive trope, he frequently slides into sci-fi. Even the horror at the heart of It is some sort of cosmic hideousness. He is one of my favourite writers, and You Like It Darker is a new collection of short stories that moves from “the folds in reality where anything can happen” to a “psychic flash” that upends dozens of lives. There’s a sequel to Cujo , and a look at “corners of the universe best left unexplored”. I’ve read the first story so far, and I can confirm there is plenty for us sci-fi fans here.

Enlightenment by Sarah Perry

Not sci-fi, but fiction about science – and from one of the UK’s most exciting writers (if you haven’t read The Essex Serpent yet, you’re in for a treat). This time, Perry tells the story of Thomas Hart, a columnist on the Essex Chronicle who becomes a passionate amateur astronomer as the comet Hale-Bopp approaches in 1997. Our sci-fi columnist Emily Wilson is reviewing it for New Scientist ’s 11 May issue, and she has given it a vigorous thumbs up (“a beautiful, compassionate and memorable book,” she writes in a sneak preview just for you guys).

Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Dr Ophelia Bray is a psychologist and expert in the study of Eckhart-Reiser syndrome, a fictional condition that affects space travellers in terrible ways. She’s sent to help a small crew whose colleague recently died, but as they begin life on an abandoned planet, she realises that her charges are hiding something. And then the pilot is murdered… Horror in space? Mysterious planets? I’m up for that.

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In Hey, Zoey, the protagonist finds an animatronic sex doll hidden in her garage

Shutterstock / FOTOGRIN

Hey, Zoey by Sarah Crossan

Hot on the heels of Sierra Greer’s story about a sex robot wondering what it means to be human in Annie Bot , the acclaimed young adult and children’s author Sarah Crossan has ventured into similar territory. In Hey, Zoey , Dolores finds an animatronic sex doll hidden in her garage and assumes it belongs to her husband David. She takes no action – but then Dolores and Zoey begin to talk, and Dolores’s life changes.

How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler

Davi has tried to take down the Dark Lord before, rallying humanity and making the final charge – as you do. But the time loop she is stuck in always defeats her, and she loses the battle in the end. This time around, Davi decides that the best thing to do is to become the Dark Lord herself. You could argue that this is fantasy, but it has a time loop, so I’m going to count it as sci-fi. It sounds fun and lighthearted: quotes from early readers are along the lines of “A darkly comic delight”, and we could all use a bit of that these days.

Escape Velocity by Victor Manibo

It’s 2089, and there’s an old murder hanging over the clientele of Space Habitat Altaire, a luxury space hotel, while an “unforeseen threat” is also brewing in the service corridors. A thriller in space? Sounds excellent – and I’m keen to see if Manibo makes use of the latest research into the angle at which blood might travel following violence in space, as reported on by our New Scientist humour columnist Marc Abrahams recently.

The best new science fiction books of March 2024

With a new Adrian Tchaikovsky, Mars-set romance from Natasha Pulley and a high-concept thriller from Stuart Turton due to hit shelves, there is plenty of great new science fiction to be reading in March

In Our Stars by Jack Campbell

Part of the Doomed Earth series, this follows Lieutenant Selene Genji, who has been genetically engineered with partly alien DNA and has “one last chance to save the Earth from destruction”. Beautifully retro cover for this space adventure – not to judge a book in this way, of course…

The Downloaded by Robert J. Sawyer

Two sets of people have had their minds uploaded into a quantum computer in the Ontario of 2059. Astronauts preparing for the world’s first interstellar voyage form one group; the other contains convicted murderers, sentenced to a virtual-reality prison. Naturally, disaster strikes, and, yup, they must work together to save Earth from destruction. Originally released as an Audible Original with Brendan Fraser as lead narrator, this is the first print edition of the Hugo and Nebula award-winning Sawyer’s 26 th novel.

The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

Just in case you still haven’t read it, Justin Cronin’s gloriously dreamy novel The Ferryman , set on an apparently utopian island where things aren’t quite as they seem, is out in paperback this month. It was the first pick for the New Scientist Book Club, and it is a mind-bending, dreamy stunner of a read. Go try it – and sign up for the Book Club in the meantime!

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Developing Leadership and Management: Case Study on Moneyball

This essay about the film “Moneyball” explores innovative leadership and management strategies in the context of professional sports. It follows Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, as he revolutionizes player evaluation using data analytics, challenging traditional methods. Beane’s resilience, adaptability, and strategic partnerships with analytics experts exemplify effective leadership principles. The film illustrates the importance of innovative thinking, overcoming resistance to change, and managing strategic partnerships in achieving success. Beyond baseball, “Moneyball” offers valuable insights into leadership, analytics-driven decision-making, and organizational change applicable across various industries.

How it works

The 2011 film “Moneyball,” based on Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, serves as an excellent case study for exploring innovative leadership and management strategies in the face of adversity and limited resources. The story follows Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, as he attempts to assemble a competitive team despite a significantly lower budget than larger market teams. Beane’s approach, driven by data analytics, fundamentally challenges traditional methods of player valuation and team building in Major League Baseball (MLB).

At its core, “Moneyball” illustrates the power of innovative thinking in leadership and management. Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, is faced with the challenge of having only a fraction of the budget of baseball giants like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Traditional scouting methods would not suffice to build a winning team within these financial constraints. Beane’s solution? Leveraging underutilized statistical data to evaluate players differently from his competitors. This method, known as sabermetrics, prioritizes on-base percentage and other statistics over more traditional metrics like batting average and RBIs. Beane’s strategy is a departure from the norm, highlighting his role as a transformative leader willing to take calculated risks.

Beane’s leadership style in “Moneyball” is characterized by resilience and adaptability—qualities essential for any leader facing change or resistance. Throughout the film, he encounters significant skepticism and opposition from his own scouting team and other stakeholders in the Athletics organization. They are entrenched in the traditional ways of doing things and view Beane’s reliance on statistics and algorithms as impersonal and flawed. However, Beane’s confidence in his vision allows him to challenge the status quo and persist with his strategy despite these challenges. His approach demonstrates an important leadership principle: the courage to pursue a vision, even when it goes against conventional wisdom.

Moreover, the collaboration between Beane and Peter Brand, a young Yale economics graduate portrayed by Jonah Hill, emphasizes the importance of strategic partnerships in leadership. Brand brings the technical expertise in analytics that Beane needs, while Beane provides the leadership and managerial acumen to apply these insights effectively. Their partnership is a testament to the potential of combining diverse skills and perspectives to innovate and solve problems. This aspect of the “Moneyball” story illustrates how effective leadership often involves recognizing one’s limitations and complementing them with the strengths of others.

Finally, “Moneyball” is a study in managing change and overcoming resistance. Beane’s innovative methods disrupt not only his team but also the broader baseball community. His success forces other teams to reconsider their approaches, leading to widespread changes in how players are valued and teams are constructed in MLB. This outcome highlights a key aspect of leadership: the impact of a leader’s vision and methods can extend far beyond their immediate organizational context, influencing industry standards and practices.

In conclusion, “Moneyball” provides rich insights into leadership and management within the framework of professional sports but has implications far beyond. Billy Beane’s story is a compelling example of how innovative thinking, resilience in the face of resistance, strategic partnerships, and effective change management can coalesce to overcome limitations and achieve success. For leaders and managers in any field, “Moneyball” underscores the importance of analytics in decision-making, the courage to challenge outdated methodologies, and the ability to inspire and implement profound organizational change. Through this lens, Beane’s journey is not just about baseball—it’s about redefining what is possible with the resources at hand.


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John James Audubon was flawed. Should he get credit for his good work?

A new book, ‘The Birds That Audubon Missed’ by Kenn Kaufman, delves into the controversies dividing the birding world

For better and worse, the name Audubon has become almost synonymous with birds. The reason, of course, is John James Audubon, whose “Birds of America” project, published from 1827 to 1838, catalogued more than 400 birds in life-size prints. The works captured the avian world in a breadth and detail never before seen, turning its French American creator into a celebrated naturalist.

In recent years, questions have been raised about Audubon’s legacy, starting with the ethics of his work — the Audubon Society has conceded that he “most certainly committed” plagiarism and academic fraud. He also was an enslaver and a critic of emancipation, and sent stolen human remains to an anthropologist who used them to study racial differences.

Given this complicated biography — ably explored by naturalist Kenn Kaufman in his new book, “ The Birds That Audubon Missed: Discovery and Desire in the American Wilderness ” — should Audubon still get “credit for the good work he did, while acknowledging all that was wrong?” Kaufman asks.

Many conservation organizations are asking that question too and arriving at dissonant conclusions about whether to keep the Audubon name. Similar controversy surrounds the names of birds themselves. The American Ornithological Society, which standardizes the English-language common names of birds in the Americas, recently announced that eponymous names (those that include the name of a person) will gradually be phased out in favor of descriptive names, thus putting an end to a practice particularly prevalent in the era of settler expansion. For instance, Scott’s oriole was named in 1854 after Gen. Winfield Scott, who had nothing to do with ornithology but plenty to do with the Trail of Tears, the genocidal forced relocation of Native Americans over which he presided.

Kaufman informs these debates by going to the heart of that era. His book is a must-read for birders curious about so much that lies hidden behind the names in our pastime; it illuminates the personalities, rivalries and shortcomings of the men (no women) of European ancestry (no others need apply) who set out to outdo one another and make a name for themselves by finding and naming birds — and why some birds were overlooked in the process.

In telling these tales, Kaufman sometimes meanders. He quickly settles on Audubon as his main focus, but he has a slight tendency to go down rabbit holes. For instance, he delves into the theory that Audubon was in fact “the Lost Dauphin,” a son of Queen Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI of France, who may have — or if this theory is correct, may not have — died in prison during the French Revolution. Audubon did not claim this title, but Kaufman nonetheless spends several pages wondering if it might be, a digression that some readers may find intriguing but others may see as extraneous.

But this is just a quibble in a book that brings together such a vast amount of information and presents it in such an engaging way. “The Birds That Audubon Missed” isn’t a dry history; it’s as alive as the birds it describes, thanks to the personal aspect Kaufman weaves into the narrative. In addition to offering his own birding adventures as a living-color counterpoint to the past, Kaufman, best known for his field guides and other books such as “ A Season on the Wind ” (2019), scatters illustrations through the text — some are by Audubon and some are by Kaufman, who boldly attempts to create new paintings in the style of Audubon. The effort highlights just how much Kaufman longs to feel something of what these naturalists of yesteryear experienced. That is where “The Birds That Audubon Missed” excels; the real beauty of the book is expressed in its subtitle, in the moments when Kaufman gives in to that longing for discovery and whispers of desire:

“When I watch a flock of sandpipers lift off from a coastal lagoon and climb into the sky, it lifts my soul — not only because of the beauty of their flight, but also because I know they might not touch down for a thousand miles. Scientific knowledge of the migrations of these birds, based on years of research, doesn’t take away from the sense of magic; it makes it stronger.”

A little later, in a passage where he describes curlews as “children of the wind,” you can almost feel yourself carried aloft with these large, dramatic shorebirds as they crisscross the globe in their seasonal wanderings. These musings culminate in a fitting conclusion: that the era of great discovery never ends if all discovery is personal. One’s own revelatory experiences in the natural world are what truly matter.

The fundamental — and unavoidable — problem with “The Birds That Audubon Missed” lies in its “great white men” focus. Kaufman acknowledges from the outset, and mentions occasionally throughout, that this is a particular brand of history stemming from a time that minimized, ignored and discounted anything that didn’t originate from an extremely narrow band of humanity. Indeed, that constitutes one of the criticisms of eponymous bird names. White explorers took credit for “discovering” birds that may have been well known to Indigenous people and then slapped some White friends’ or patrons’ names on them; some of these names we blithely continue to use.

“Our perceptions are shaped by the names and definitions we apply to things,” Kaufman notes of birds that were misunderstood because they’d been labeled and pigeonholed (pun intended) incorrectly; what’s true biologically is even more so culturally. A book exploring the Indigenous knowledge of our avifauna — one that, say, gave primacy to the Choctaw biskinik and its place in that culture, rather than defaulting to the English name of that woodpecker, the yellow-bellied sapsucker — would be welcome. But that’s another book, one that with history’s focus on the dominant narrative might be exceedingly difficult to put together.

Kaufman does an admirable job of exploring the history that’s before us. He didn’t set out to render a verdict on the naming controversies, but he does answer his own question: If we can move beyond hagiography, we can at least acknowledge what Audubon did, for good and ill. And if, as some claim, losing the names means erasing history, then Kaufman’s book is one way to cure this alleged amnesia.

Christian Cooper is the author of “Better Living Through Birding: Notes From a Black Man in the Natural World” and host of the National Geographic TV show “Extraordinary Birder.”

The Birds That Audubon Missed

Discovery and Desire in the American Wilderness

By Kenn Kaufman

Avid Reader. 384 pp. $32.50

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Paul Auster.

Paul Auster, American author of The New York Trilogy, dies aged 77

The writer of The New York Trilogy, Leviathan and 4 3 2 1 – known for his stylised postmodernist fiction – has died from complications of lung cancer

‘A literary voice for the ages’: Paul Auster remembered by Ian McEwan, Joyce Carol Oates and more

Paul Auster – a life in quotes

Paul Auster – a life in pictures

Paul Auster, the author of 34 books including the acclaimed New York Trilogy, has died aged 77.

The author died on Tuesday due to complications from lung cancer, the Guardian has been told.

Auster became known for his “highly stylised, quirkily riddlesome postmodernist fiction in which narrators are rarely other than unreliable and the bedrock of plot is continually shifting,” the novelist Joyce Carol Oates wrote in 2010.

His stories often play with themes of coincidence, chance and fate. Many of his protagonists are writers themselves, and his body of work is self-referential, with characters from early novels appearing again in later ones.

“Auster has established one of the most distinctive niches in contemporary literature,” wrote critic Michael Dirda in 2008. “His narrative voice is as hypnotic as that of the Ancient Mariner. Start one of his books and by page two you cannot choose but hear.”

The author was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1947. According to Auster, his writing life began at the age of eight when he missed out on getting an autograph from his baseball hero, Willie Mays, because neither he nor his parents had carried a pencil to the game. From then on, he took a pencil everywhere. “If there’s a pencil in your pocket, there’s a good chance that one day you’ll feel tempted to start using it,” he wrote in a 1995 essay .

While hiking during a summer camp aged 14, Auster witnessed a boy inches away from him getting struck by lightning and dying instantly – an event that he said “absolutely changed” his life and that he thought about “every day”. Chance, “understandably, became a recurring theme in his fiction,” wrote the critic Laura Miller in 2017. A similar incident occurs in Auster’s 2017 Booker-shortlisted novel 4 3 2 1: one of the book’s four versions of protagonist Archie Ferguson runs under a tree at a summer camp and is killed by a falling branch when lightning strikes.

Auster studied at Columbia University before moving to Paris in the early 1970s, where he worked a variety of jobs, including translation, and lived with his “on-again off-again” girlfriend, the writer Lydia Davis, whom he had met while at college. In 1974, they returned to the US and married. In 1977, the couple had a son, Daniel, but separated shortly afterwards.

Auster and Siri Hustvedt at home in Brooklyn in 2020.

In January 1979, Auster’s father, Samuel, died, and the event became the seed for the writer’s first memoir, The Invention of Solitude, published in 1982. In it, Auster revealed that his paternal grandfather was shot and killed by his grandmother, who was acquitted on grounds of insanity. “A boy cannot live through this kind of thing without being affected by it as a man,” Auster wrote in reference to his father, with whom he described himself having an “un-movable relationship, cut off from each other on opposite sides of a wall”.

Auster’s breakthrough came with the 1985 publication of City of Glass, the first novel in his New York trilogy. While the books are ostensibly mystery stories, Auster wielded the form to ask existential questions about identity. “The more [Auster’s detectives] stalk their eccentric quarry, the more they seem actually to be stalking the Big Questions – the implications of authorship, the enigmas of epistemology, the veils and masks of language,” wrote the critic and screenwriter Stephen Schiff in 1987.

Auster published regularly throughout the 80s, 90s and 00s, writing more than a dozen novels including Moon Palace (1989), The Music of Chance (1990), The Book of Illusions (2002) and Oracle Night (2003). He also became involved in film, writing the screenplay for Smoke, directed by Wayne Wang, for which he won the Independent Spirit award for best first screenplay in 1995.

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In 1981, Auster met the writer Siri Hustvedt and they married the following year. In 1987 they had a daughter, Sophie, who became a singer and actor. Auster’s 1992 novel Leviathan, about a man who accidentally blows himself up, features a character called Iris Vegan, who is the heroine of Hustvedt’s first novel, The Blindfold.

Auster was better known in Europe than in his native United States: “Merely a bestselling author in these parts,” read a 2007 New York magazine article , “Auster is a rock star in Paris.” In 2006, he was awarded Spain’s Prince of Asturias prize for literature, and in 1993 he was given the Prix Médicis Étranger for Leviathan. He was also a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

In April 2022, Auster and Davis’s son, Daniel, died from a drug overdose. In March 2023, Hustvedt revealed that Auster was being treated for cancer after having been diagnosed the previous December. His final novel, Baumgartner, about a widowed septuagenarian writer, was published in October.

Auster is survived by Hustvedt, their daughter Sophie Auster, his sister Janet Auster, and a grandson.

  • Paul Auster

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Breaking news, my ex named his newborn after me — i don’t think his wife realizes.

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We’ve written about some pretty big baby-name drama stories in the past, but this one stopped us in our tracks.

A woman took to the Tea Time Facebook group, an Australian-based gossip page, to share the shocking post.

It read: “My ex had a baby…. just found out he’s named her the same name as me.”

Yep, that’s it. That’s the post.

But don’t worry, there’s more tea to come…

A woman with an unusual name noticed her ex names his baby after her.

“What’s your name?” and 4 other essential questions

First and foremost, commenters had questions. Lots of them.

Here are just a few:

  • Were you a long-term girlfriend?
  • Was it recently that you dated or when you were younger?
  • Was his family familiar with you and your name? 
  • Does the mum know?
  • Is your name an everyday name or unique?

Thankfully, the poster was hanging out in the comments and made sure to satisfy everyone’s curiosities. 

The couple was together for 4 years before the split, but she believes his new wife doesn't know about her.


The woman added in the comments: “I don’t think the baby’s mum knows about my existence now, despite him being with me for four years.

“We were engaged too! My name is not that common, which makes it weirder. It’s Freya.”

With that information, people could finally weigh in with their thoughts.

“That’s messy,” someone replied. “My heart would break if I found out my husband did this.”

“The fact guys think they can get away with this is wild,” remarked another.

“He’s gonna be constantly reminded of you for the rest of his life now hahaha,” someone else laughed.

“This is so weird on so many levels,” pointed out someone else. 

“OMFG, I’d be spewing,” said one user, while a different woman just wrote, “Lord have mercy.”

However, there were a few people who didn’t see an issue.

“Am I the only one that doesn’t think it’s a big deal? It’s just a name,” one wrote.

“Maybe his wife suggested it, and he just didn’t speak up,” said another.”Or he told her he had an ex called Freya, and she said she didn’t care.”

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