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BAND October Discussion: Nonfiction Anthologies

by Kim on November 4, 2011 · 5 comments

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BAND — Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees — is a group organized to promote the joy of reading nonfiction. We are “advocates for nonfiction as a non-chore,” and we want you to join us. Each month, a member of BAND hosts a discussion on their blog related to nonfiction. I am woefully behind in participating (shame!), but after this I’ll be caught up in time for our November topic next week. 

The host for our October nonfiction discussion was the awesome Ash of English Major’s Junk Food who asked about her favorite form of nonfiction — anthologies — and asked us to share some of our favorites.

I have always wanted to be the sort of person that gets into essay collections. I can’t tell you the number I’ve bought over the years, vowing to start reading them right away, that then take a neglected place near the bottom of my unread books shelf. I’m addicted to buying nonfiction anthologies, but can’t seem to actually read them.

Some of my favorites to buy are books in the Best American series — Best American Food Writing, Best American Essays, Best American Magazine Writing... the list goes on. I went and pulled all of the ones I could find on my bookshelves right now, and here’s what I have (which doesn’t include the pile on my bookshelves at my parents’ house):

  • The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink
  • Best Food Writing 2007, edited by Holly Hughes
  • The New Kings of Nonfiction by Ira Glass
  • Best American Essays 2007, edited by David Foster Wallace (I have at least three other years from this series)
  • Sugar in My Bowl by Erica Jong
  • The Woman at the Washington Zoo by Marjorie Williams
  • Bookmark Now: Writing in the Age of Information Overload by Kevin Smokler
  • Journalistas, edited by Eleanor Mills
  • Major Modern Essayists by Gilbert H. Muller and Alan F. Crooks
  • Fame and Obscurity: Portraits by Gay Talese by Gay Talese

I have contemplated conquering my massive essay collection pile by doing a project — an essay a day for 365 days. Given my penchant for stunt memoirs (books where people take on goofy “self-improvement” projects for an entire year), it’s probably not a surprise that I want to find a way to do something like that.

I’m not going to turn my life upside down, but incorporating something I enjoy — good, long-form narrative nonfiction writing — with my desire to do a project seems like the way to go. And it seems simple enough: read an essay every day and write some short impressions on it, maybe on Tumblr? Anyone interested in joining me?

And now I’m caught up! Look for the next BAND discussion early next week. We’ll put the link up on our Tumblr, so be sure you’re subscribed!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ash November 4, 2011 at 8:43 am

I’ve tried to do an essay a day for 365 days a bunch times but for some reason it never works. Maybe if we do it together we can work as a support system!

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Kim November 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm

That would be awesome! I do better with projects like this one if I have someone else doing the same thing.

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