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Essays of E.B. White

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  3,313 ratings  ·  338 reviews
The classic collection by one of the greatest essayists of our time.

Selected by E.B. White himself, the essays in this volume span a lifetime of writing and a body of work without peer.  "I have chosen the ones that have amused me in the rereading," he writes in the Foreword, "alone with a few that seemed to have the odor of durability clinging to them." These essays are i
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 12th 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published May 16th 1936)
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Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JanB by: Anne (On semi-hiatus)
The blurb says it all: “Widely read for his eloquence and wit, widely taught for his superb clarity, White remains one of the greatest essayists of this century. "Some of the finest examples of contemporary, genuinely American prose."-- "The Washington Post"

I have such fond memories of reading Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little to my children but this is my first experience with his essays. His writing is as charming, poignant, and as relevant today as it was when he first penned these words. Wis
“With so much that is disturbing our lives and clouding our future, beginning right here in my own little principality, with its private pools of energy, and extending outward to our unhappy land and our plundered planet, it is hard to foretell what is going to happen. I know one thing that has happened: the willow by the brook has slipped into her yellow dress, lending, along with the faded pink of the snow fences, a spot of color to the vast gray-and-white world. I know, too, that on some not ...more
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"All that I ever hope to say in books is that I love the world."

E.B. White's love of the world is evident throughout these essays. So is his modesty, curiosity, gentleness, honesty and cleverness. I listened to the audio version which felt like having a beloved uncle/father/grandfather telling stories about the good old days. I adored some of the essays more than others but there was not one that was not priceless just because it was written by White in his inimitable style. Some of my favorite
Diane Barnes
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, slow-reads
These essays are the reason I love reading essays to begin with. Five or ten minutes in the company of Mr. White's opinions, written by the master stylist that he is, leaves me feeling happy, refreshed, relaxed, and most of the time, amused. They are wonderful and he wrote a lot of them during his time at the New Yorker, so I don't have to stop with this book. ...more
Roy Lotz
There is really no way for a man to put his arms around a big house plant and still remain a gentleman.

E.B. White’s name, along with Will Strunk’s, is now synonymous with good style. If that isn’t a compliment to a writer, I don’t know what is.

My first encounter with the duo was in my high school English class of junior year. My teacher was old-fashioned enough to believe that we should learn how to use punctuation. This came as a shock, since none of her predecessors had spared so much as
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Keep in mind that usually I do not enjoy either essays or short stories, but here the writing is exceptional. It is this that makes all the difference.

The essays cover many different topics, such as the art of writing, appreciation of life’s small delights, wildlife (animals, flowers, birds), books and authors such as The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis, Henry David Thoreau aand The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., trips to Alaska and Florida, the tribulations of a
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like the majority of American liberal artists, I know E.B. White principally from his editorial work. The Elements of Style was the principal explicit force behind my own understanding of the sentence and the essay, and I assumed its writer would possess that bright cogency that tickles the alert reader into giggles.

I also knew E.B. White as the author of books for children, and though it has been nearly two decades since I read Charlotte's Web, I remember vividly the story and the prematurely
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-enjoy-again
Especially for "Mr Forbush's Friends...."
Ok, wow. So many observations, some made eight decades ago, are still relevant. The very first, about how 'stuff' accumulates so that when one tries to move to a new home one has to take the time to review one's life, is gorgeous. ("Good-Bye to Forty-Eighth Street") That whole first section, on farming, is a must-read for fans of Michael Perry. The tale of his trip to Alaska, as a callow youth in the early 20s, is memorable. There are some refe
"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White is one my favorite books from childhood and thinking about the book continues to give me a warm feeling. He wrote for the magazine "The New Yorker" starting in 1927 where he met his wife who edited his work. Some of the witty and descriptive essays in this book appeared in different publications as well as the "New Yorker." Reading this book is a pleasure and treat in every way. Charming book. Highly recommend. ...more
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Here are some of the opening sentences found in this collection of essays.

To come upon an article in the Times called "The Meaning of Brown Eggs" was an unexpected pleasure.
Someone told me the other day that a seagull won't eat a smelt.
I spent several days and nights in mid-September with an ailing pig.
Mosquitoes have arrived with the warm nights, and our bedchamber is their theater under the stars.
I wasn't really prepared for the World's Fair last week, and it certainly wasn't prepared for
Chris J
Yo, Goodreads I.T. - give me the opportunity to give half-stars! It's like...2017 or something. This book is a classic 3.5 stars. When forced to round, I must round down.

Mr. White was a wonderful essayist. This particular collection contains more than a few gems but is too inconsistent to make the entire volume a ' must read.' Yet, even as I write that last sentence, I doubt myself for I did enjoy the book and am quite thankful that I read it.

I will say that this collection has inspired me to
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I took my time reading these essays, one at a time, over the past summer. It ended up being one of the best reading experiences I've had.

To quote E.B. White - "As a writing man, or secretary, I have always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly and unworldly enchantment, as though I might be held personally responsible if even a small one were to be lost."

That's exactly the thought behind each of these pieces, and reading them, you're always anxious to discover whic
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays-shorts
If you occasionally find your foot lost of its purchase on the bicycle pedal while speeding down a death-defying San Francisco hill - minus the bicycle and minus the hill - then the essays of E.B. White should be immediately looked into. White's work is thoroughly grounding. Whether he's enumerating the pleasures of his Home Crawford 8-20 wood-burning kitchen stove, his boulder in the pasture woods where he retreats when he's disenchanted or frightened, his geese, his pig, the local raccoon, his ...more
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It turns out E. B. White is clever, warm, and eloquent-- as the writer of Elements of Style ought to be. He writes about pretty much everything: books, politics, the city, the country, his rattletrap car, the debate on brown vs. white eggs, all with both ease and conviction.

"All that I ever hope to say in books is that I love the world. I guess you can find it there, if you dig around." That's what E. B. White has to say for himself. And if you don't love the world already, reading these essays
Élise Pelletier
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, essay
Wonderful reading. A treasure trove.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful collection of beautifully written essays by one of the great prose stylists. Even if the subject matter of a particular essay may not be of interest, you will still find great pleasure in dipping into the words, sentences and paragraphs of a great writer.

E.B. White had many interests and his essays reflect upon life in New York City, life in Maine, and general commentary upon matters that fall in between. My favorites in this book are: his essay about Thoreau's Walden and the
I like Charlotte's Web but, I feel like the majority of his other writing is dry.

Read for class.
Sep 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
E.B. White may best be known as the author of Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web, but he had a prolific writing career. In this collection he has chosen his favorite selections to include from a lifetime of writing. He based his selections on his own enjoyment upon re-reading and on their durability.

The selections here are varied and cover White's time in Maine, Florida and New York. White experienced life both on a small farm and in the big cities and essays of both are included here. They are p
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, essays
I picked up this book for three reasons: simple booklust; my life-long infatuation with E.B. White's writing; and the inclusion of the essay "Here is New York."

In the preface, White wrote of "Here is New York" that it had been seriously affected by the passage of time, and that the city he described in the summer of 1948 seemed to him to have disappeared and been reborn. But a lot of it still sounds right to me.

Here, then, are the opening lines of "Here is New York":

"On any person who desires s
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
I am continually amazed by and incredibly appreciative of E.B. White's writing, no matter whether his subject is spiders, pigs, roofing the barn, hurricanes, or war. He started writing essays around 1930 and continued for decades; his children's fiction was published about 70 years ago, and his writing is still relevant today and has so much to offer current readers.
Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are th
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I knew this would be a five-star book after reading the very first line. I often find that a large amount of non-fiction books are written by people who White calls (himself included), "sustained by the childish belief that everything he or she thinks is of general interest." So White admits this elephant in the room straight away, so you can get on with reading the rest of his works. It is quite amazing how, though he wrote closer over half a century ago, many of the ideas he discusses are stil ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I dare you to not smile while reading E.B. White.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘We had been having an unseasonable spell of weather—hot, close days, with the fog shutting in every night, scaling for a few hours in midday, then creeping back again at dark, drifting in first over the trees on the point, then suddenly blowing across the fields, blotting out the world and taking possession of houses, men, and animals. Everyone kept hoping for a break, but the break failed to come. Next day was another hot one.’
‘I hung up. My throat felt dry and I went to the cupboard and got a
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
i read this to learn how it's done when it's done in finest form. i read this to shout hallelujah at the end of a marvelous sentence, or at the choice of a word that takes my breath away. i read this to wipe tears from my cheeks. i read this to laugh out loud and mercilessly.

this book is the holy mecca for those of us who can't stop believing in the power of word to burrow deep within the human heart and take us hostage, to clomp onto a brain cell and draw pictures we've never seen before. the
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, classics
I had a difficult time rating this book. There were a handful of essays I really liked--mostly the autobiographical ones. I always think of EBW as a kind grandfatherly figure, but he lived quite the eclectic, adventurous, activist life. He is the "White" in Strunk and White's"Elements of Style." I often thought of his political essays -- the more things change the more they stay the same. However there were many essays that just didn't seem relevant or interesting to me. When I did a mathematica ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am not an essay fan or a short fan but you cannot get better than E. B. White's essays. I can't believe I've gone 65 years without anyone suggesting I read them. They're fabulous and in both political and environmental they're unfortunately very much on target. Sometimes it was hard to believe I was reading a piece written 50 plus years ago and not written recently.

I highly recommend them to anyone.
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
E. B. White was a great essayist. If you want to spend a month reading an essay every morning I highly recommend this book. Whether it was observations of life on the farm and by the sea in Maine, or the ever changing world of New York in the 1930's - 60's, White does a masterful job of describing what he sees and experiences. Read this. ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-reread
"When my wife's Aunt Caroline was in her nineties, she lived with us, and she once remarked: 'Remembrance is sufficient of the beauty we have seen.' I cherish the remembrance of the beauty I have seen."

One of the purest, loveliest writers I've ever encountered. This was worth the time it took to read, and I have a feeling I'll be dipping into it again and again.
Jana Light
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
E.B. White is so good at describing the seemingly-mundane, not in a way that transforms it into something magical, but in a way that simply brings to light all that is actually going on in the world around us. I want to develop his poetically scientific (or is that scientifically poetic?) eye and appetite for what the world has to offer. It's damn near spiritual. ...more
Wendy Pitts
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Full disclosure I did not read ALL the essays but, the ones I read I did enjoy. This is not really my type of book. Rather dense reading where you have to slow down and pay attention to detail because White is very witty. Enjoyable slow read.
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Elwyn Brooks White was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist and author of such beloved children's classics as Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and, five or six years later, joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine. He authored over seventeen books of prose and poetry and was elected to t ...more

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