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On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge. I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration.

My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair.

While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami.

Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis. You think your life punches you in the face all too often? After reading this essay you will change your mind.

Reading about loss and hardships often makes us sad at first, but then, enables us to feel grateful for our lives. White — Once more to the lake. What does it mean to be a father? Can you see your younger self reflected in your child? This beautiful essay tells the story of the author, his son, and their traditional stay at a placid lake hidden within the forests of Maine.

This place of nature is filled with sunshine and childhood memories. It also provides for one of the greatest meditations on nature and the passing of time.

Zadie Smith — Fail Better. Aspiring writers feel a tremendous pressure to perform. The daily produce of words quite often turns out to be nothing more than gibberish. Also, should the writer please the reader or should she be fully independent? What does it mean to be a writer, anyway? This essay is an attempt to answer these questions, but its contents are not only meant for scribblers.

Virginia Woolf — Death of the Moth. In the midst of an ordinary day, sitting in a room of her own, Virginia Woolf tells about the epic struggle for survival, and the evanescence of life. This short essay is a truly powerful one. At the beginning, the atmosphere is happy. The life is in full force.

And then, suddenly, it starts to fade away. Meghan Daum — My Misspent Youth. Many of us, at some point or another, dream about living in New York. Word on the street is: Probably the greatest film critic of all time, Roger Ebert, tells us not to rage against the dying of the light. This essay is full of courage, erudition, and humanism. George Orwell — Shooting an Elephant. Orwell, apparently a free representative of the British rule, feels to be nothing more than a puppet succumbing to the whim of the mob.

George Orwell — A Hanging. The most horrible thing is the normality of it. Christopher Hitchens — Assassins of The Mind. In one of the greatest essays written in defense of free speech, Christopher Hitchens shares many examples on how modern media kneel to the explicit threats of violence posed by Islamic extremists.

He recounts the story of his friend, Salman Rushdie, author of Satanic Verses who, for many years had to watch over his shoulder because of fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini. With his usual wit, Hitchens shares various examples of people who died because of their opinions and of editors who refuse to publish anything related to Islam because of fear and it was written long before the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

After reading the essay, you will realize that freedom of expression is one of the most precious things we have, and that we have to fight for it. Christopher Hitchens — The New Commandments. Watch, as Christopher Hitchens slays one commandment after the other on moral, as well as historical grounds. For example, did you know that there are actually many versions of the divine law dictated by God to Moses which you can find in the Bible?

If you approach it with open mind, this essay may change the way you think about the Bible and religion in general. Phillip Lopate — Against Joie de Vivre. If you want to remain happy, just remain stupid. Personally, I can bear the onus of happiness or joie de vivre for some time. Philip Larkin — The Pleasure Principle. This piece comes from the Required Writing collection of essays.

Well worth a read. How the peaceful, European countries could engage in a war that would eventually cost more than 17 million lives? What stirs people to kill each other? Is it their nature, or are they puppets of imperial forces with agendas of their own? Zadie Smith — Some Notes on Attunement. This one is about the elusiveness of change occurring within you.

For Zadie, it was hard to attune to the vibes of Joni Mitchell — especially her Blue album. But eventually, she grew up to appreciate her genius, and all the other things changed as well. This essay is all about the relationship between human, and art. We should like it because it has an instantaneous, emotional effect on us. Annie Dillard — Total Eclipse. My imagination was always stirred by the scene of the solar eclipse in Pharaoh, by Boleslaw Prus. I wondered about the shock of the disoriented crowd when they saw how their ruler was apparently able to switch off the light.

Getting immersed in this essay by Annie Dillard has a similar effect. It produces amazement and some kind of primeval fear. After the eclipse, nothing is going to be the same again. This suicidally beautiful essay will teach you a lot about the appreciation of life. She was American, but her culture was grounded in Mexico. In this way, she and her people were not fully respected in either of the countries.

This essay is an account of her journey of becoming the ambassador of the Chicano Mexican-American culture. In terms of style, this essay is flawless. Mary Ruefle — On Fear. Most psychologists and gurus agree that fear is the greatest enemy of success or any creative activity.

Mary Ruefle takes on this basic human emotion with flair. Susan Sontag — Against Interpretation. In this highly intellectual essay, Sontag fights for art and its interpretation. I always hated when at school they asked me: Hell if I know! I will judge it through my subjective experience! This is a heartwarming, coming of age story about a young girl who waits for her breasts to finally grow. As it happens, the size of breasts is a big deal for women.

Carl Sagan was one of the greatest proponents of skepticism, and an author of numerous books, including one of my all-time favorites — The Demon-Haunted World. He was also a renowned physicist and the host of the fantastic Cosmos: A Personal Voyage series, which inspired a whole generation to uncover the mysteries of the cosmos. He was also a dedicated weed smoker — clearly ahead of his time.

Internet is flooded with a large number of articles and videos that are supposed to tell you what to do with our lives. Most of them are worthless, but this one is different.

Please, read the essay and let it help you gain fulfillment from your work. John Jeremiah Sullivan — Mister Lytle. A young, aspiring writer is about to become a nurse of a fading writer — Mister Lytle Andrew Nelson Lytle , and there will be trouble.

This essay by Sullivan is probably my favorite one from the whole list. The amount of beautiful sentences it contains is just overwhelming. It also takes you to the Old South which has an incredible atmosphere. Joan Didion — On Self Respect.

Normally, with that title you would expect some straightforward advice about how to improve your character and get on with your goddamn life — but not from Joan Didion. You can learn more from this essay than from whole books about self-improvement. Susan Sontag — Notes on Camp. After reading this essay, you will know what camp is.

You will vastly increase your appreciation for art. All the listicles we usually see on the web simply cannot compare with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson — Self-Reliance.

Written in , it still inspires generations of people. It will let you understand what it means to be self-made. It contains some of the most memorable quotes of all time. Emerson told me and he will tell you to do something amazing with my life.

The language it contains is a bit archaic but that just adds to the weight of the argument. You can consider it to be a meeting with a great philosopher who really shaped the ethos of modern United States. He sees right through the hypocrisy and cruelty behind killing hundreds of thousands of innocent lobsters — by boiling them alive. This essay uncovers some of the worst traits of modern American peoples. After reading this essay, you may reconsider the whole animal-eating business.

The famous novelist and author of the most powerful commencement speech ever done is going to tell you about the joys and sorrows of writing a work of fiction.

But you love that child and you want others to love it too. If you ever plan to write a novel, you should definitely read that one. And the story about the Chinese farmer is just priceless.

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If you are new to the internet, or simply haven’t seen this yet, check out this essay that was written some time ago as a joke. It’s a hilarious read for sure. SOURCE. The greatest college application essay ever. Here’s an oldie but goodie. Hugh Gallagher won first prize in the humor category of the Scholastic Writing Awards for the following essay.