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The Best American Essays 2015

(Best American Essays)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  638 ratings  ·  97 reviews
“Writing an essay is like catching a wave,” posits guest editor Ariel Levy. “To catch a wave, you need skill and nerve, not just moving water.” This year’s writers are certainly full of nerve, and have crafted a wide range of pieces awash in a diversity of moods, voices, and stances. Leaving an abusive marriage, parting with a younger self, losing your sanity to Fitbit, an
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Mariner Books
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  638 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Julie Christine
My first BAE! A trusted reader recommended the anthology and upon finishing I thought, "What took me so long to read one of these?" It's like having access to all those wonderful literary journals and magazines I can't afford, just there, on my nightstand, for my usual 3 a.m. open eyes.

So many of the names in this collection are familiar: Justin Cronin, Anthony Doerr, Malcolm Gladwell, Margo Jefferson, Kate Lebo, David Sedaris, Zadie Smith, Rebecca Solnit, Cheryl Strayed that I wondered, "Did t
The best thing that came out of my first semester of grad school was being asked to read one of these Best American Essays anthologies. Now I'm sort of hooked. Now I'm that person who sits around in coffee shops with a big mug of something yummy and a sweet treat on the side looking all literary and stuff while reading these collections. The best part is I have so many left to read since I'm getting into this game exceptionally late. And I'm not, for once, being weird about it - when I find a copy, I' ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Each year's collection is a bit of a gamble. Sometimes there are only a few essays that connect, other years it's a jackpot. This year is closer to the jackpot end of the spectrum. Guest editor Ariel Levy tosses in a few sure bets -- Malcolm Gladwell and David Sedaris. The essay by Roger Angell about being old, which also appears in the forthcoming Best American Magazine Writing of 2015, is worth reading more than once, if you already saw it in The New Yorker.

If there's a theme to this bunch of
Jacqueline Masumian
This group of essays has much to offer. Many of them are personal essays, several of those having to do with old age or illness. But there is actually a wide variety in this collection, including humor and philosophical or political meditations. I particularly liked Meghan Daum's heartbreaking "Difference Maker," her story of attempting to mentor and be an advocate for needy children. Mark Jacobson's "65," in which he muses on the horror of turning that age, is another gem. And Anthony Doerr's "Thin ...more
Kate Alleman
So many feels reading this book!! Kate Lebo's "The Loudproof Room" was simply astounding. I loved her final paragraph: "Disability can create sensibility.My disability is invisible, my limitations are aesthetic. They make art and they make mistakes, reminding me constantly that the way I sense and experience the world is different. At a slight angle, as Forster said of Cavafy. Which is a reminder that difference isn't unique to me. That's why listening creates a conversation. That's how reading ...more
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual, these essays were exceptional examples of creative non-fiction and personal essays. Though many came from easy-to-find sources (The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, etc.), small literary journals were represented as well. The strength came from a variety of subject matter and many were heart-wrenching as well as reflective. I look forward to 2016's collection.
Vince Darcangelo

Isaiah Berlin, "A Message to the Twenty-First Century"

Tim Kreider, "A Man and His Cat"

Kate Lebo, "The Loudproof Room"

John Reed, "My Grandma the Poisoner"

Ashraf H. A. Rushdy, "Reflections on Indexing My Lynching Book"
Luke Moy
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
Whenever I read a collection like this, I'm expecting there to be a few gems and a few clunkers, with the rest of the pack landing squarely in the middle, where I'd enjoyed reading the piece but don't remember a whole lot when thinking back on it. But the 2015 issue in the almost-always-engaging Best American Essays series, edited by Ariel Levy, has the bulk of its contents made up of startlingly memorable and characterful pieces, rich in prose and bursting with personality! I loved this one a l ...more
Liz D
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
These essays are arranged alphabetically by author’s last name, and I’m impressed by how well that’s worked out here, with several meditations on aging in the first third or so, and a final essay on love and abuse that took my breath away.
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not generally one for these compilations, for all the most obvious reasons-- art is subjective, essays are tough, the likelihood of enjoying the whole thing is on par with being struck by lightning (for the prior two reasons). I was therefore happily surprised when this collection came together on such a strong set of themes, with a group of genuinely great essays. I can honestly say I fully enjoyed all but one, and multiple left me with some fantastic thinking material. Admittedly, I came h ...more
Andy Kristensen
A few good essays, a few blah, a few pretty bad, and one disgusting essay.

Let’s start off with the essay that I find disgusting and abhorrent and awful: Meghan Daum’s “Difference Maker.” Long story short: it’s an ego-centric, self-centered, whining, pat-herself-on-the-back essay that basically brags about how great she is because she “tries” to help foster kids and considers herself better than couples who have biological kids. She never once speaks about how the foster kids she supposedly “hel
Mark Patton
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every year, I read both The Best American Essays and The Best American Short Stories cover to cover and always am impressed by many of the works included. The essays, as usual, range from the humorous to the heartfelt, the political to the social, the surprising to the mundane. Recommended yearly reading!

Side note: I didn't discover that I hadn't read the 2015 volumes until I purchased the 2016 volumes and added them to my to-read pile. I'm not sure if this says something about
Kelly Chastain
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some absolute gems in this one!
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To escape the dark depths of reality, one must face it. Ariel Levy’s series of essays immerses you into this idea. Each piece crafted by its own author depicts the arduous struggles of life. The unfair, unjust and, unimaginable comes to fruition through their very words. By recruiting their stories, Levy establishes a firm stance on what truly makes these The Best American Essays.
A good essay, can provide insight into the lives of their authors. Although, their stories and recollections m
Jongmin Jeon
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read The Best American Essays by Ariel Levy in the college English course, and it was a fun time. I have not to finish whole essays in the book, but I have read some and that gave me a big impression. Also, for the first time, I have felt that reading a book is experiencing other people’s thoughts and their lives.
The Best American Essays by Ariel Levy is about many different themes of essays. I like the book because essays are shorter than a book, so it was not burdening to read the whol
Nadia Mcdowell

I read this book for a college English course, and frankly I was surprisingly satisfied with this read. Do not be discouraged from the title containing “Essays” and think this book is consisted of extensive dull writings, but rather the quite opposite. This book is composed of diverse essays, short enough for a quick read through actually. As I would recommend, if you are sensitive to subject matter containing abuse, or death, you might want to stray away from the first two essays-but it is not
Carlo Reyes
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading the Best American Essays by Ariel Levy was a fun experience. I got to experience stories like It will look like a sunset by Kelly Sundberg which showed a story of tremendous growth of a strong woman. In Vision by Tiffany Briere we see a father move past a traumatic experience to help make his daughter happy. Those are just the some of the stories that were my favorites. The stories in the book were able to grab my attention and pull me into a sad world that ended up having a happy ending ...more
Amani Garner
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book to read for an English class or just as reference material, the essay's in this bo0k are really easy to follow along with. The chapters are short enough to where they can be read all at once instead of stopping and then resuming at a later time, so if you are on the bus, at a library or at home then it is perfect for that. I had to get this book for my English class which focuses on composition and reading and we have topics every week which this book is good for since the es ...more
Billie Pritchett
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bae
I'll do my best to recall as many of The Best American Essays 2015 as possible but I won't be able to, because I read them over an extended period, particularly one long period between essays and then I got back to this collection. Before I get into the essays, I would like to say that I've discovered just how every year's essays really does bear the mark of the editor. This year's editor was Ariel Levy, an incredible author in her own right, and she has made quite a good compendium here. Here are s ...more
Read for Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge task #22: an essay anthology. I didn’t even realize these essay collections were published, much less every year. I’ll definitely be checking out more of these from the library. I love short story collections so these will be great alternatives when I’m in the mood for quick, diverse reads.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A pretty good collection. My favorites were about subjects outside my experience - the history of gay literature, a first hand account of spousal abuse and a grandmother who may or may not have been a serial poisoner.
Alexander Kot
Nowhere near my casual fare but it fell into my lap. Admittedly I have next to zero experience with essays but I did enjoy this book for how varied the subjects were, albeit I'm 3 years tardy. If novels and compilations of short stories start to wear you down give one of these a try.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction17
Always a pleasure to spend time within the pages of this series of books. It feels like mingling at a very interesting party, where inevitably occasionally you get stuck talking to a bore, but also find yourself in fascinating and entertaining company. And all without leaving the house!
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Some essay collections are really hit or miss, but I only had to skim over a few essays in this one. Most of the selections were engaging.
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first essay was the worst in the whole collection and did not draw me in, hence why it took me so long to finish. Many of the others, however, were excellent.
Monica A.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The essay, "My Daughter & God" by Justin Cronin was a great read!
K.D. Rose
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ariel Levy curated this collection and while there are many exceptional essays in the book, it doesn't hold the same greatness as say the collections curated by Jamison and Franzen.
Max Bob
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Max by: Miranda
Shelves: leasure
As usual, with this series, the essays were hit or miss. The name of the writer of the first essay escapes me, but that was exceptional. Zadie Smith's "Find Your Beach" is also brilliant.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not necessarily the best essays. Mostly very good, but just essays written by top names in the genre.
Richard Anderson
Terrific collection.
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Ariel Levy is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, where she has written about the swimmer Diana Nyad, the Supreme Court plaintiff Edith Windsor, the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and the drug ayahuasca. She was the editor of The Best American Essays 2015. Her personal story "Thanksgiving in Mongolia" won a National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism and is the basis ...more

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