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The Best American Essays 2005 (Best American Essays)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  267 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
The Best American series has been the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction since 1915. Each volume's series editor selects notable works from hundreds of periodicals. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the very best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 5th 2005 by Mariner Books
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Sep 02, 2015 Chazzbot rated it really liked it
Great essays here from David Sedaris and David Foster Wallace.

I like magazines. So when I started reading this collection, I came up with the bright idea of reading the essays in their original published form; that is, reading them in the magazines in which they were first published. At the time, I subscribed to a number of the periodicals featured in this collection: The New Yorker (the source of six essays here), The American Scholar, Harper's, and The Atlantic. So, basically, this collection
Dec 01, 2007 Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Once again I find that I enjoy these collections of essays much more than I have the collections of short fiction.

Of the collection, only a couple essays were skim-worthy. Most were quite enjoyable, and a few stood out as quite captivating. Notable were: "If Memory Doesn't Serve" (which had me grinning from ear to ear in familiarity); "Contributor's Note" (which I greatly enjoyed as being particularly clever); "My Friend Lodovico" (for it's passion for an inanimate object); "Speed" (which rang s
Apr 26, 2016 N rated it it was amazing
This is one of the highest--caliber BAEs I've read--and I've read most of them. According to my checkmark system (1 for good essays, 2 for great, 3 for stupendous), 10 of the essays Susan Orlean chose received 1 checkmark, 2 ("The Sea of Information" and "Consider the Lobster") received 2, and 1 (Brian Doyle's gut-puncher "Joyas Voladoras") received the rare 3. All in all, 13 of the 25 essays I'd read again.

Here are my top five favorite BAEs thus far (I've read 1986-2005 and 2012-2014):

#5: 2012
Tamara Hill Murphy
Feb 01, 2016 Tamara Hill Murphy rated it it was ok
The collection from 2005 included only a few titles I didn't really enjoy, a few I'd only consider mildly enjoyable and a few I wish I could memorize because the words made me so happy. A few authors I'd read before -- Jonathan Franzen, David Sedaris, David Foster Wallace. Many I had not -- Andrea Barrett, Ian Frazier, Edward Hoagland, Ted Kooser and more. As it turns out, most of my favorite essays came to me from previously unknown writers.

See my favorite excerpt at my full review here: http:/
Jul 24, 2008 David rated it really liked it
Brian Doyle's "Joyas Voladoras" is a gem. I enjoy Andrea Barrett's style. Oliver Sacks is always fascinating, and David Sedaris is fun in small doses, so it's nice to have a single essay here. I can't seem to get David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster" out of my head--a unique essay for Gourmet Magazine.
Apr 15, 2015 Cora rated it it was amazing
really really really good essays in here! out of 25, there were only 2 essays that i didn't totally love. i have a couple more of these books for other years and will definitely be reading them.
Oct 01, 2010 Mandi rated it it was ok
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this collection. I like essays, but I didn’t like a majority of those selected for this compilation. I only continued to read because I fell in love with Andre Barrett’s “The Sea of Information” (originally published in The Kenyon Review), all about the love of research and reading nonfiction, which I completely related to and found her take fascinating. It’s placement as the second essay is what kept me reading.

What I didn’t like was that few really grabbed me. I
Kelly Ferguson
Sep 10, 2012 Kelly Ferguson rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
I bought this because of the 6 authors whose work I love, thinking this would be a great way to provide an anthology for my class. The problem is while I still love these authors, these essays aren't my favorite work by these authors. And too many dog essays. I get it. Orlean is a dog person. Although one of my favorites was about about a woman's trauma adopting a problem dog that she had to put down. Since a friend of my mine's dog was recently attacked and killed by such a dog, I had less symp ...more
May 01, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I saw this on a display rack at the library, Susan Orlean's name caught my eye because I really liked The Orchid Thief, and there turned out to be several writers in the collection whose names I recognized. I particularly wanted to read the Oliver Sacks essay, and was interested to check out the selections from David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, David Sedaris, and a few others. I enjoyed reading the collection, but it didn't really introduce me to any new writers I got especially excited ab ...more
Oct 03, 2011 Chris rated it liked it
I figure these should all get three stars if they're doing their thing right. I heard Seth Meyers describe a perfect episode of SNL as one with 3 things that make you belly-laugh, three things you hate viscerally, and some filler. Essay collections are largely the same, and this one may actually be better than many.

As for the keepers:

"Consider the Lobster" by DFWallace is the "with us for years to come" winner here.

"Speak, Hoyt-Schermerhorn" by Jonathan Lethem is a fantastic meditation on pla
Niña Jade
Aug 31, 2008 Niña Jade rated it liked it
came across this book in our library and borrowed it for a some light reading. The essays have catchy titles which made me want to read them right away. Some essays were quite an interesting read but were also a little too long for me to grasp what the main idea really is. There were a few quotable quotes as well. for example:
"[in a photo, the subjects are] plunged into an atmosphere of equivocal artificiality..."...oh well..just something for those who have a love for words =)
Laura Pedersen
Aug 02, 2008 Laura Pedersen rated it really liked it
Ashleigh made me buy this book. Never been a big reader of essays or short stories but oh this book has some great ones which I really enjoyed! My favorite ever was Joyas Voladoras by Brian Doyle--gets me choked up and moved every time I read it. And some truly hilarious stories, like Dog Trouble by Cathleen Shine, and of course anything by David Sedaris.
Pre-reading notes

Found this for 50 cents at the used book store. Will it be any good? I have no idea, but 50 cents!! Even if there is only 1 good essay in here, it will be worth the money. And as I haven't brought myself to read anything by David Foster Wallace yet, maybe his contribution to this collection will give me an idea of whether I should try (or not).
Feb 19, 2008 Tricia rated it it was amazing
Do you know about this series? (There is also BA Short Stories, etc). Great way to keep up on more contemporary writing w/o reading everything in sight. There is a fantastic essay in here called "Speed" about human perception of time--so cool.

Do watch for who is editing. The Garrison Keeler year was a travesty! (who likes him?)
Mar 07, 2008 Leslie rated it it was ok
I have to say only a few essays in this collection resonated with me. "Dinner with Robots" ended up really intriguing me. When I saw the title and that the author was a computer programmer, I was not looking forward to the essay. I was pleasantly surprised, however. It's one of the few in the collection that has stuck with me.
Nov 18, 2008 Liz rated it it was amazing
So I returned to this one for a while. Some real gems are hidden in there. Particularly the last three essays: "Dining with Robots," by Ellen Ullman; "Consider the Lobster," by David Foster Wallace; and "Satin Worship," by Holly Welker. I may have already read this one, but I'll keep rereading it to.
Ke Huang
May 14, 2012 Ke Huang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-complete
I am embarrassed to say that I first heard about Susan Orlean from the movie "Adaptation." That said, I still enjoyed many of the essays the editor selected, especially Florey's "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog" and Masello's "My Friend Lodovico."
Sep 04, 2008 Priya rated it liked it
read most of the essays in this book for a nonfiction writing course. some were amazing, i question the inclusion of others. i've read other "best american series" compilations and they're great reading for the most part
May 05, 2010 Drew rated it really liked it
A fun to read compilation. A great way to find new writers, some have me absolutely rolling off the couch laughing, others I can hardly bear.

Favorites so far:
Consider the Lobster
Oliver Sacks
Jul 04, 2007 James rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Stronger collection than 2004; I'd give it 3 1/2 stars if I could. Highlights are the gorgeous "Joyas Voladoras," the resonant "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog," and the sprawling "Speak, Hoyt-Schermerhorn."
Jun 02, 2015 Anie rated it really liked it
Excellent. There are some truly fantastic essays in here (Oliver Sacks' "Speed" comes to mind especially), and the majority are worth reading through. Only one or two fell flat for me---a good thing.
Nov 09, 2008 Clinton rated it really liked it
I checked this out to read David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster," but found other gems, as usual for this series.
Oct 12, 2007 Wendy rated it it was ok
Shelves: essay
David Foster Wallace's essay is a highlight, but for the most part I found this to be a clunker of a year.
Nov 27, 2007 Jeff is currently reading it
I bought this book forever ago and still leaf through the remaining essays from time to time.
Sep 05, 2009 Becca rated it it was amazing
Brian Doyle's "Joyas Voladoras" may be the most beautiful three pages I have ever read.
Feb 02, 2009 Tuck marked it as to-read
going for the martone. he has written a memoir in contributor's notes?
Jun 04, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Go Susan! I like her intro--about a McGuffin, you might say.
Lowell Brower
Joyas Voladoras!!!!!
Marisela Chavez
Mar 05, 2008 Marisela Chavez rated it it was ok
so far not so good...
Jan 08, 2015 Renata rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, grownup
A solid collection.
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I'm the product of a happy and uneventful childhood in the suburbs of Cleveland, followed by a happy and pretty eventful four years as a student at University of Michigan. From there, I wandered to the West Coast, landing in Portland, Oregon, where I managed (somehow) to get a job as a writer. This had been my dream, of course, but I had no experience and no credentials. What I did have, in spades ...more
More about Susan Orlean...

Other Books in the Series

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