“Six thousand books is a lot of reading, true, but the trash like Hell’s Belles and Kid Colt and The Legend of the Lost Arroyo and even Part-Time Harlot, Full-Time Tramp that I devoured during my misspent teens really puff up the numbers. And in any case, it is nowhere near a record. Winston Churchill supposedly read a book every day of his life, even while he was saving Western Civilization from the Nazis. This is quite an accomplishment, because by some accounts Winston Churchill spent all of World War II completely hammered.”
The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, Michele Filgate talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here's our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a "cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self." They also discuss if we're in a golden age of women essayists. "Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing," Jamison says.
George Saunders delivered a little publicized convocation at Syracuse University this year. His main advice to the class of 2013 — be kind. "And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE," he said.