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i get sick of fiction sometimes. just too much birthay cake. it's all made up and i'll probably forget most of it anyway. but what else to read? popular science usually does the trick but in the absence of any in the books-to-read mountain i chose this which, to my shame, i'd bought several hundred years ago and never touched. the best american essays of the century, ed. joyce carol oates & robert atwan. it's a treasure trove, as they say in blurb-speak. mark twain, zora neale thurston, martin luther king, maya angelou, joan didion, susan sontag. it's tempting to give a few synopses but the joy is finding the seemingly unpromising stuff you don't expect to enjoy.