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Awesome Essays: Compulsory Reading

Awesome Essays has returned, and with a graphic essay! Today I'm going to talk about Alison Bechdel's graphic essay Compulsory Reading. I think a lot of you will like this essay because you are readers. She starts the essay talking about how she hasn't read a novel for enjoyment in a long time and how she feels guilty about it, but then moves onto her early reading and how she felt she had to read a lot of classic novels because her dad told her to. She ends the essay on a different note, which is hilarious and true. You can read the whole thing on her website, Dykes to Watch Out For. Here is a funny bit from the beginning of the essay to start you off.

I obviously really like the subject of this essay as a reader and someone who believes that reading for enjoyment should be exactly that, enjoyment, and not an attempt to complete some lists of books "everyone has to read." I love the way Bechdel portrays the frantic search for a book after she realizes how long it's been since she read one. It seems like she is chased by a reading guilt ghost (don't we all have one of those?) and she can't escape the ghost until she finds the perfect book and finishes it. Of course, it's not enough to just pick one book, she has to make a stack of books to finish in order to assure herself she will not go this long without reading again.

There are a couple of questions this essay raises for me. Firstly, do any of you have a "reading guilt ghost" too? When you know you haven't read enough or feel like you haven't been reading the "right" books does it make you sweat a bit? How do you deal with that? Secondly, I've tried to show essays that take the idea of the essay to a different medium. This is obviously a graphic essay and I've also done posts about video essays before. Have some of you been surprised by how many forms essays come in?

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Awesome Essays: Compulsory Reading + web comic