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Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Selected as the winners of Random House’s national contest, a stunning collection of essays ranging from comic to poignant, personal to political, by the newest, brightest young writers you haven’t heard of . . . yet.

Here, for the first time, current twentysomethings come together on their own terms, in their own words, and begin to define this remarkably diverse and self
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2006)
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3.65  · 
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 ·  241 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Stuff White People Like People
Shelves: non-fiction
I guess I checked this book out to annoy myself on purpose with how much I hate my fellow twenty-somethings, so maybe it's unfair to rate it. But yeah, twenty-somethings are pretty obnoxious. There's the nude artist's model who compliments herself on being hot in increasingly disgusting ways, there's the person whining about still living with her parents while spending a shitton of money on ridiculous stuff, the person talking about how much better internet relationships are than real ones (casu ...more
Jun 20, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is half good ones and half duds. Some good ones are Sex and the Sickbed by Jenifer Glaser, California by Jess Lacher, and Working at Wendys by Joe Franklin. The best and most inventive one is You Shall Go Out with Joy and Be Led Forth with Peace by Kyle Minor. The lame ones are all the ones that try to define a generation or talk too much about technology that is already out of date as soon as the book comes out. I predict that Glaser, Lacher, Franklin, Minor, Kinder, and Biss will tur ...more
May 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people with twentysomething angst, aka everyone
my friend matt edited it! so i just got a copy from him and a recommendation: read the first essay, "california." it was really awesome and i already love the collection. i think i will pace myself though. maybe an essay a night before bed. nothing like a little introspection...
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it
A few shining standouts but many unfocused or trying-too-hard pieces. A few with typical snobbish and entitled tones perhaps expected of people in quarterlife, annoying but worth reading as examples of how not to write. Others were much more thoughtful and well rounded vignettes. Glad to have found this since I adore essay collections but certainly not a must read.
Apr 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is the product of a national essay contest that I actually considered participating in. I picked it up because if not for procrastination, I might have been included in the list of contributing writers. Then again, maybe that’s wishful thinking. At any rate, this is a solid collection for people who like autobiographical essays or have had an appreciation for such writing drilled into them by journalism faculty.

Not all of the essayists are likeable, but even when they aren’t, they’re
I was recommended this book by the instructor of a creative non-fiction writing class I recently took, and it turns out that I am glad to have read it. A diverse and varied collection of essays reflecting on the various conflicting feelings and goals of contemporary North Americans as they navigate the hazy period between adolescence and adulthood, “Twentysomething Essays from Twentysomething Writers,” was among the more interesting such collections I have read, in spite of having been written b ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not usually much of one for anthologies, but this one caught my eye at the library. I feel that a lot of the existing narratives (essays, articles, stories, books, or otherwise) about what it's like to be a twentysomething in today's world are not actually being authored by twentysomethings. We get to read doomsday headline after headline about how bad the economy is, about what an awful time it is to graduate from college, about downward mobility...or about our generation's narcissism, our ...more
Mar 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Twentysomethings, but other people too.
I "picked up" this book as a cure for classroom boredom. By "picked up", I mean I bought the eBook version. I loved the book probably for a good third of it and then it got rather monotanous. The first few essays blew my mind. I had no idea there were twentysomethings who were just like me and (*grumble*) more articulate. Some of the essays I found to be self-indulgent, like the first one about being an L.A. slacker-turned starving NYC artist. Others, I pitied the writer for even mentioning the ...more
Just over a year ago this Department became involved in the project that has produced Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers. When I first read about this proposal I thought—what a great idea! “Be specific. Be unique. We want you to tell us—and by extension, the entire world—something we haven’t heard before, something that defines you as a member of this burgeoning generation. Make us laugh, make us think, make us mad—just don’t make us yawn.” I think this goal has been achieved!

At e
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it
As a twentysomething, I am part of that media-saturated, slightly cynical, idealist-- and slightly narcissistic -- collective. I am therefore not surprised that I was simultaneously pleased and disappointed with this book. It was nourishing in its 'windows to the world', in the ways it addressed situations, people, and ideas all too familiar to me. Yet it was also somewhat too typical; we twentysomethings are wordy dreamers, and pepper our writing with that 'savant-colloquialism' that is a resul ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I feel like I rushed through this book, yet it took a few months to read. I read it in waves. A bunch here; a little there. And I will be re-reading it.

Some of the essays were amazing & really stick with you. I wonder what I'd have said in my 20s. I wonder if it would have been as profound as some of those contained here. Of course, some of the essays were no better than my 12-year-old self would have written, but mostly these independent stories were worthwhile & made me think.

If you're
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very cool idea, Random House. I like that you asked US (THE PEOPLE!!!) to share our stories, so we readers get perspectives from soldiers to artists to Wendys employees to teachers. LOTS of teachers. I like that! These stories really resonated with me. Duh, I'm a 20-something and I wanna be a teacher. I think the market is over-saturated with tales of teens and 30/40(?)-somethings. Where the 20-somethins at!? This made me feel less alone in the strange, unanticipated place I've found myself in - ...more
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
I've been on an essay kick lately so picked this up at the library. There were a few engaging essays and a lot of chaff. Though I will say that even the uninteresting ones were well written. It seems this was a contest of some sort and the introduction gives you the idea that this collection contains essays written by people of all occupations and world views. Browsing the author notes in the back though I see most of them are actually people already in the writing field or having studied it in ...more
May 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People between the age of 20 and 30 who don't know what to do with themselves
As an aspiring writer, and someone who went through a rather unexpected and completely unpleasant "quarter-life crisis," I loved a lot of the stories in this collection. It was my bedtim book, and I think my boyfriend got tired of my surreptitious giggles and my attempts to make him listen to me read passages to him. I often worry that my life has been too bourgeois, boring, and happy to be interesting, but these stories show that you can make art and humor out of the small and large things that ...more
Apr 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: teenagers
I started this book liking it, until I realized how horrible people my age are. Maybe it was just the phase of life I was in when I decided not to finish this book, but suddenly every essay struck me as whiny, self-centered and dripping with a sense of unearned entitlement. Well-written bad content. There were only two essays I really liked: one about being in a band and one called "Clichè Rape Story." That was the only moving piece.

However, reading this did make me feel okay about not being an
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because it matched my catalog search for Eula Biss. It turns out that I had already read her essay included in this ("Goodbye to all that") but I like personal essays so I checked it out. It's a pretty strong collection. I was excited about the essay written by the guy who did volunteer work in the Dominican Republic, and there were a lot of interesting perspectives in here.
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: twenty-somethings
Recommended to Tortla by: my birthday
I don't think I'd re-read any of these essays, and I'm kind of baffled by the choice of "winner" for the essay-contest facet of the compilation. BUT the voices were very much those of twenty-somethings, occasionally insightful and always self-consciously critical of the modern world. Plenty of religion and technology and alienation and searching for meaning and all that quarter-life-crisis post-post-modern nonsense. In a kind of reassuringly familiar way. One that's well-written.
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
There are a few really fantastic essays in this book. But there are also a whole bunch of essays that are really, really awful. Most of the essays suffer from blatantly answering the question of what is a twentysomething today in a predictable way. The few good ones are good because they tell a narrative that by definition tells the reader something new about that specific twentysomething without forcing it down the reader's throat.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This book honestly helped put my life in perspective. My problems aren't quite so bad as some revealed by the essayists in this book. Some of them are self-indulgent an I can't criticize them for that. Although not all the essays were interesting or provoking, some were and those were the ones that made the book worth reading.
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, 2009
Overall, I really enjoyed this collection of essays. Some were blase, but most were intriguing and all were very well-written in their own unique voices. My favorite, by far, was Tricycle. I related to it the most.

Since this was written a few years ago, I would love to hear from all these authors again. Who are they now?
Feb 24, 2008 rated it liked it
While there were a few good essays in this collection, overall I was disappointed. I guess I'm not a huge fan of the short story genre and despite being twenty-something, I couldn't relate to a lot of the essays. This collection didn't really hold my attention. I think I actually enjoyed the introduction more than the collection!
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy this book. We have it available at work for students (college aged) to read through and we discuss the essays within during our tutor sessions. I've liked the selections from this book so much that I've read it on my own and I really enjoy the variety of experiences and narrative this collection offers.
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
there is an economy of beauty here

Waxing rhapsodic about MIDI-patch changes, grid quantizing, and pitch-wheel modulation isn't exactly socially acceptable.

I couldn't say why, but I felt myself molting generosity by the fistful.
Manda Lea
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone.
Best essays in the collection (Good, like I cried I was so moved): "An Evening in April"; "Sex and The Sick Bed"; and "My Little Comma"

Worst essay in the Collections (and up there with the worst essays I've ever read): "Live Nude Girl"
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book, I've never before found essays that so perfectly recounted my own feelings and thoughts as this one did. These writers were able to put down in words many of the feelings I was only able to barely get a grasp on.
Shane Haensgen
Jun 12, 2007 rated it liked it
I was interested in seeing what twentysomethings might write about. A lot of it was centered around finding who/what/where one is supposed to be...something I'm sure does not end once someone turns 30.
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised by this book. All of the essays are well-written and present a nice over-view as to life, love, art, family, relationships, work, etc for this generation. I remember parts from several of the essays and ponder them from time to time.
Mary Louise
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
Wonderful and many times bold collection of essays. And any reader or writer from any generation could find inspiration in these essays written by such gifted writers. "The Mustache Race" by Bronson Lemer is an absolute stunner.
Colleen Myers
Mar 01, 2010 marked it as to-read
Another planned plane book.
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
There were a few gems in here, but
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Elrena Evans holds an MFA from The Pennsylvania State University, and is co-editor of Mama, PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life (Rutgers University Press, 2008).

Her writing has also appeared in Brain, Child, Hip Mama, MotherVerse, Literary Mama, Mamazine, and the anthologies Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers (Random House, 2006) and How to Fit a Car Seat on a Camel