11 Powerful New Essay Collections For Your Fireside Reading This Fall

by Sadie Trombetta

The end of summer is always a hard time of year for me because I can't stand to say goodbye to my favorite season and all of the wonderful things it brings with it, including beach reading. The only thing that gets me through the transition is the possibility of new books, which is why I've been keeping a list of essay collections to watch out for this fall. Whether it be inspiring insights about being a woman in the resistance or scientific studies on riveting stories of global travel, these new books have a little something for everyone.

During the summer, there is plenty of time to relax on the beach and binge read a new novel, but during the fall, opportunities to read become few and far between. Whether it's school work that demands your attention or the start to the busy season at work that is sucking up all your free time, there always seems to be something to take your attention away from your beloved books.

That's why essay collections are the perfect books to add to your autumn TBR pile: they offer small bits of reading in self-contained pieces you can read at your leisure. Don't like a particular essay? Skip it and move onto the next. Only have a few minutes before your break is over? Pick a shorter selection from the book. No matter what kind of time you have to devote to reading, essay collections make it easy to keep up with your favorite hobby.

Whether you're trying to enjoy a book on the way to work, sneaking a reading session in at lunch, or enjoying a good story before bed, these 11 new essay collections have your back.

'The Origins of Others' by Toni Morrison

A collection Toni Morrison's lectures at Harvard University, The Origin of Others gives readers around the world a chance to take a peek inside the insightful mind of one of America's most celebrated novelists. As the volume's title implies, Morrison reflects on the constructs of identity and race in language and literature, specifically her own critically acclaimed works like Beloved and A Mercy. Equal parts challenging and engaging, reading The Origin of Others is like learning from the literary legend herself.

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

From the brilliant mind of Ta-Nehisi Coates comes We Were Eight Years in Power, a vital collection of essays, old and new, that explore the cultural and political climate that lead to the election of America's first black president and Donald Trump's subsequent rise to power. From the unemployment office of Harlem to the gilded halls of the White House, Coates takes readers on a journey through his career and the last eight years of American history to reveal vital and urgent truths about race, identity, hate, and equality in our culture.

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'The Romance of Elsewhere' by Lynn Freed

For decades, celebrated writer and memoirist Lynn Freed has been documenting her travels around the world. Her newest collection, The Romance of Elsewhere, Freed takes readers on her many journeys, from South Africa to Southern California, Crete to New York, to reveal some essential truths about the nature of travel, the power of writing, and the indomitable spirit of a free woman. Deeply personal and beautifully rendered, Freed's essays perfectly capture the restless nature of the wanderer, and the intense desire to find a place to call home.

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

The book that needs to be on every feminist reader's radar, Nasty Women shares the wisdom of 23 writers who know a thing or two about protest, solidarity, and female empowerment. Featuring essays from feminist icons like Cheryl Strayed, Rebecca Solnit, Jill Filipovic, and Randa Jarrar on topics ranging from Trump and misogyny to racism in rural America, this powerful collection will help readers understand, process, and protest modern American politics and the dangerous policies that threaten women everywhere.

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'Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation' Edited by John Freeman

In another collection featuring a cast of all-star contributors, Tales of Two Americas seeks to unearth the truth about life in these divided states. Featuring the remarkable essays, stories, and poems from the prolific minds of Roxane Gay, Karen Russell, Ann Patchett, and many more, this book of powerful essays should be required reading for anyone trying to understand the deep and dangerous divisions in America today.

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'The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age' by Andrew O'Hagan

One of the fall's most anticipated collections, The Secret Life is a fascinating collection of writing that looks at the curious intersections between real life and the constructed world of the internet. In examining cyberspace phenomenon like the ability to construct wholly new (and wholly fake) identities online and controversy that is Julian Assange and Wikileaks, author and essayist Andrew O'Hagan asks probing questions about the meaning and construct of identity in the digital age. Smart and engaging, The Secret Life will change the way you see life on the internet.

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

In this stunning anthology about race and identity in America, authors and editors Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page collect fifteen provocative stories about "passing" in America. Featuring powerful contributions fro, Gabrielle Bellot, Trey Ellis, Rafia Zakaria, and more, We Wear the Mask is an sharp and insightful examination of the damning stereotypes, prejudices, and assumptions that shape daily life in the United States.

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'Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches' by John Hodgman (Oct. 24)

Equal parts funny and sincere, John Hodgman's latest collection takes a hard look at adulthood through the lens of a self-described forty-something year old "privileged Sasquatch." From the strange shores of coastal Maine to the hippy hills of Western Massachusetts, Vacationland chronicle's Hodgman's life of wandering and the perspective older age has granted the writer, comedian, and actor. It's a thoughtful and insightful glimpse inside the mind of one of the funniest writers today.

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'The River of Consciousness' by Oliver Sacks (Oct. 24)

Part scientist, part storyteller, Oliver Sacks had a knack for creating engaging nonfiction about anything from physical and mental illness to his own decades-long celibacy. In his posthumous collection The River of Consciousness, Sacks once again enthralls readers with tantalizing true tales on everything from evolution and time to creativity and experience. Thoughtful and captivating, this collection will make you miss the iconic scholar even more than you already do.

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'Sometimes I Think About It' by Stephen Elliott (Nov. 7)

In this moving collection, author Stephen Elliott shares personal anecdotes and stunning stories of survival to convey the unknowable strength and courage of outsiders and underdogs. Featuring intimate essays about his childhood abuse, life on the street, and his interest in masochism alongside riveting reporting on environmental catastrophe, political crisis, and corrupt politics, Sometime I Think About It will get readers to do exactly that: think.

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'They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us' by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib (Nov. 14)

Featuring brand new works and essays previously published by the New York Times, MTV, and Pitchfork, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib's forthcoming collection uses music and culture to try and understand modern American history and our current political climate. In They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, the poet, writer, and cultural critic takes seemingly random moments — a Bruce Springsteen concert, PDA at a Carly Rae Jepsen show — and uses them to try and explore some of the most difficult questions about race, violence, and prejudice facing Americans, specifically Americans of color, today.

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