Our Favorite Essay Collections, Memoirs, and Assorted Nonfiction

By Malvern Books

By Malvern Books

The Word Pretty

Elisa Gabbert

$18.95 $17.43

Julie says, "Seasoned poet Elisa Gabbert flexes her sentence-making strength in her debut essay collection. Fun, witty, and filled with clear-eyed observations, her work approaches life and literature with as much poignancy as humor and aplomb."

I Used to Be Charming: The Rest of Eve Babitz

Eve Babitz

$18.95 $17.43

Julie says, "I have so many favorite essays in 'I Used to Be Charming,' it’s impossible to pick; they all reach out, whisper in your ear, and make you feel like you’re in on a daring heist—these are the sort of essays that’ll make you forget to put on your seatbelt."

Making It

Norman Podhoretz


Julie says, "Podhoretz’s work is filled with hard-won insights into the human psyche: our fascination with having it all, our fear of having it all and losing it—this memoir is truly outstanding."

The Next American Essay

John D'Agata


Stephanie says, "D’Agata is a crucial force in American prose, known for his career-long efforts to define nonfiction. He’s the author of numerous books and the perennial subject of angry think-pieces due to his relationship with the concept of fact and its role(s) in nonfiction. Here’s a fact: D’Agata’s introductions to the essays in this trilogy are beautiful and also contain factual errors I can’t understand the purpose of or apologize for. Here’s another fact: These anthologies are wonderfully curated courses in the essay, our greatest and most misunderstood literary form."

Found and Lost: Mittens, Miep, and Shovelfuls of Dirt

Alison Leslie Gold


Julie says, "Gold’s 'Found and Lost' reshapes memoir in one of the most inventive and moving ways I’ve yet to encounter in all my years of voraciously reading non-fiction. In a little over two-hundred pages, the book is a hand-sewn tapestry of letters, narratives (or 'Interlogues' as they’re titled), lists and imagistic phrases. Interspersed throughout the text are poetic lines in a red italicized font that appears, to my eye, like a careful stitch-work that pulls the fragmentary material together."

I Am Not Ashamed

Barbara Payton


Julie says, "Memoir today is often telescoped on one experience, divorce, addiction, grief. Payton stirs the pot, bringing in all the ingredients of her remarkable life as an actress, poet, mother, and an expat in Mexico, where she spent two years. There’s no overthinking things, the scenes arise naturally as if she were talking to you at a bar, a dressing room, or her squalid apartment. Her story is so urgent and her voice is so strong that it just pours out with ease and originality, creating a natural balance between vignettes and introspection. Before the term 'radical self-acceptance' existed, Payton was living by its premier code."

The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet

David Carlin and Nicole Walker


Recommended by Tracey.

War and the Iliad

Rachel Bespaloff and Simone Weil

$15.95 $14.67

Celia says, "Here are two fantastic essays on Homer, written on the eve of World War II. Reading Weil's classic 'The Iliad, or the Poem of Force,' feels like coming home into a vision of Homer that feels both ancient and contemporary."

Everything and Nothing

Jorge Luis Borges

$11.95 $10.99

F says, "This little book is the perfect gateway to Borges. It contains a grab-bag of some of his best fiction, along with psychedelic essays, and lecture transcriptions full of wisdom given toward the end of his life. Be warned: your perception and outlook on life will change entirely after reading this."

Beautiful and Impossible Things: Selected Essays of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde


Julie says, "This beautiful sampling of essays (and letters) is a necessary reminder of Wilde’s multilayered character—a dining room cutup dressed in velvet but also a big-hearted champion of human rights. The introduction, by Gyles Brandreth, is among the best of all the Notting Hill Editions I’ve read so far. A most excellent entry point into the series."

Who Killed My Father

Edouard Louis

$15.95 $14.67

Celia says, "Part lyrical memoir of Louis's father, part call to arms. This book is on fire."

All My Cats

Bohumil Hrabal

$17.95 $16.51

Celia says, "I love everything Hrabal touches, and this short memoir about cats and car crashes is no exception."

Promise at Dawn

Romain Gary


Julie says, "Romain Gary altered my understanding of what a memoir is—a true art form that melds superior storytelling with a remarkably full life. A brilliant book and my favorite in the store."

The Argonauts

Maggie Nelson

$15.00 $13.80

Tracey says, "A smart, genre-bending, inventive examination of Nelson’s most recent intellectual obsessions. Nelson’s spare and swirling prose defies categorization, moving deftly from reminiscence to criticism to philosophy. Even a ‘conventional’ experience like motherhood becomes somehow stranger and richer when seen through Nelson’s fearless reflections. Her aim is not to define, but to question—to seek comfort and freedom in uncertainty and transition."

Kathy Acker: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations

Kathy Acker


Julie says, "This book will obliterate any preconceived notions you might have about Kathy Acker. If you don't know who Kathy Acker is, that's OK, she'll let you know."

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Svetlana Alexievich

$19.95 $18.35

Celia says, "This is a magnificent and terrifying masterpiece of the Chernobyl disaster, a vision of life at a possible end of the world."

Artaud Anthology

Antonin Artaud

$15.95 $14.67

F says, "Reading Artaud will evoke the spirit of early 1970s New York punk more than listening to 1970s New York punk. You will be cruel and unapologetic in your craft, with a twisted sense of art, beauty, and justice that others will see as jaded, perhaps insane, but therein will lie your strength. You will be stronger, when the odds are completely against you. You will laugh."

Animals Strike Curious Poses

Elena Passarello

$19.95 $18.35

Schandra says, "A thrilling survey of the plights and triumphs of animals existing in the marginalia humanity has pushed them to. Stylistically approaching the diversity of nature, these essays are often sad and uncomfortable but always beautiful."

Fighting for Life

S. Josephine Baker


Recommended by F.

Immigration Essays

Sybil Baker


Recommended by Tracey.

Treatise on Modern Stimulants

Honore De Balzac and Pierre Alechinsky

$12.95 $11.91

Julie says, "Hookah smoker, cold brew lover, famous for being only slightly tipsy after seventeen bottles of wine, Balzac takes readers on a somatic tour through stimulants, peppering a few surprisingly vivid warnings throughout. Fun Fact: 'In the nineteenth century, it was widely believed that heavy drinkers could spontaneously combust.''"

The Sacred Conspiracy: The Internal Papers of the Secret Society of Acéphale and Lectures to the College of Sociology

Andre Masson

$39.95 $36.75

Celia says, "You want an account of the secret society for which Michel Leiris nearly volunteered to be a willing human sacrifice, right? Yes, you. You do."

The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm

Max Beerbohm


F says, "Anarchist dandy Beerbohm always manages to make me laugh, especially when talking about the famous people of his day. Perfect for fans of Eve Babitz."

The Large Glass

Mario Bellatin

$16.00 $14.72

"As close to a memoir as readers can expect from a writer who has made a career of revising and recoding the fundamental DNA of a literary aesthetic he helped to define." —Alex Espinoza, for LARB


Jorge Luis Borges

$15.95 $14.67

Schandra says, "This comprehensive collection of Borges’ great body of multi-genre works deftly introduces the legendary Argentinean magical realist to a whole new generation of readers. Included in the selected stories is Borges’ most beloved & frequently anthologized work, 'The Garden of Forking Paths.' This is one labyrinth you’ll want to get lost in."