17 of the Best Essay Collections of 2016

It’s a great time to be a reader of essays. As has been noted by many writers and critics, the form has risen in popularity and visibility in recent years, and the result has been an abundance of fantastically written nonfiction on a variety of topics, from the personal to the political to the aesthetic.

Whether you, as a reader, are looking for an incisive take on a universal subject, an idiosyncratic look at a specific corner of the world, an insightful look at a piece of recent history, or a powerful explanation of the self, odds are that you can find a fantastic essay on that very topic — if not several.

What follows is as look at some of the best essay collections released this year. Some take a very personal view; others come at their subjects from the societal angle. Some will leave you in hysterics; others might bring you to tears. At the end of a chaotic and unpredictable year, one of these books might be exactly what you need to explore a new corner of the world or have a breakthrough in some quotidian part of your own life. Or maybe the narrative contained within it will give you a few hours of delight as you get lost in its pages.

Essays are, after all, capable of many things.