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Importance of Reading Essay

500+ words essay on reading.

Reading is a key to learning. It’s a skill that everyone should develop in their life. The ability to read enables us to discover new facts and opens the door to a new world of ideas, stories and opportunities. We can gather ample information and use it in the right direction to perform various tasks in our life. The habit of reading also increases our knowledge and makes us more intellectual and sensible. With the help of this essay on the Importance of Reading, we will help you know the benefits of reading and its various advantages in our life. Students must go through this essay in detail, as it will help them to create their own essay based on this topic.

Importance of Reading

Reading is one of the best hobbies that one can have. It’s fun to read different types of books. By reading the books, we get to know the people of different areas around the world, different cultures, traditions and much more. There is so much to explore by reading different books. They are the abundance of knowledge and are best friends of human beings. We get to know about every field and area by reading books related to it. There are various types of books available in the market, such as science and technology books, fictitious books, cultural books, historical events and wars related books etc. Also, there are many magazines and novels which people can read anytime and anywhere while travelling to utilise their time effectively.

Benefits of Reading for Students

Reading plays an important role in academics and has an impactful influence on learning. Researchers have highlighted the value of developing reading skills and the benefits of reading to children at an early age. Children who cannot read well at the end of primary school are less likely to succeed in secondary school and, in adulthood, are likely to earn less than their peers. Therefore, the focus is given to encourage students to develop reading habits.

Reading is an indispensable skill. It is fundamentally interrelated to the process of education and to students achieving educational success. Reading helps students to learn how to use language to make sense of words. It improves their vocabulary, information -processing skills and comprehension. Discussions generated by reading in the classroom can be used to encourage students to construct meanings, and connect ideas and experiences across texts. They can use their knowledge to clear their doubts and understand the topic in a better way. The development of good reading habits and skills improve students’ ability to write.

In today’s world of the modern age and digital era, people can easily access resources online for reading. The online books and availability of ebooks in the form of pdf have made reading much easier. So, everyone should build this habit of reading and devote at least 30 minutes daily. If someone is a beginner, then they can start reading the books based on the area of their interest. By doing so, they will gradually build up a habit of reading and start enjoying it.

Frequently asked Questions on the Importance of reading Essay

What is the importance of reading.

1. Improves general knowledge 2. Expands attention span/vocabulary 3. Helps in focusing better 4. Enhances language proficiency

What is the power of reading?

1. Develop inference 2. Improves comprehension skills 3. Cohesive learning 4. Broadens knowledge of various topics

How can reading change a student’s life?

1. Empathy towards others 2. Acquisition of qualities like kindness, courtesy

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Essays About Reading: 5 Examples And Topic Ideas

As a writer, you love to read and talk to others about reading books. Check out some examples of essays about reading and topic ideas for your essay.

Many people fall in love with good books at an early age, as experiencing the joy of reading can help transport a child’s imagination to new places. Reading isn’t just for fun, of course—the importance of reading has been shown time and again in educational research studies.

If you love to sit down with a good book, you likely want to share your love of reading with others. Reading can offer a new perspective and transport readers to different worlds, whether you’re into autobiographies, books about positive thinking, or stories that share life lessons.

When explaining your love of reading to others, it’s important to let your passion shine through in your writing. Try not to take a negative view of people who don’t enjoy reading, as reading and writing skills are tougher for some people than others.

Talk about the positive effects of reading and how it’s positively benefitted your life. Offer helpful tips on how people can learn to enjoy reading, even if it’s something that they’ve struggled with for a long time. Remember, your goal when writing essays about reading is to make others interested in exploring the world of books as a source of knowledge and entertainment.

Now, let’s explore some popular essays on reading to help get you inspired and some topics that you can use as a starting point for your essay about how books have positively impacted your life.

For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers

Examples Of Essays About Reading

4. How ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ Saved Me By Isaac Fitzgerald

5. catcher in the rye: that time a banned book changed my life by pat kelly, topic ideas for essays about reading, 1. how can a high school student improve their reading skills, 2. what’s the best piece of literature ever written, 3. how reading books from authors of varied backgrounds can provide a different perspective, 4. challenging your point of view: how reading essays you disagree with can provide a new perspective.


1.  The Book That Changed My Life  By  The New York Times

“My error the first time around was to read “Middlemarch” as one would a typical novel. But “Middlemarch” isn’t really about plot and dialogue. It’s all about character, as mediated through the wise and compassionate (but sharply astute) voice of the omniscient narrator. The book shows us that we cannot live without other people and that we cannot live with other people unless we recognize their flaws and foibles in ourselves.”  The New York Times

In this collection of reader essays, people share the books that have shaped how they see the world and live their lives. Talking about a life-changing piece of literature can offer a new perspective to people who tend to shy away from reading and can encourage others to pick up your favorite book.

2.  I Read 150+ Books in 2 Years. Here’s How It Changed My Life  By Anangsha Alammyan

“Consistent reading helps you develop your  analytical thinking skills  over time. It stimulates your brain and allows you to think in new ways. When you are  actively engaged  in what you’re reading, you would be able to ask better questions, look at things from a different perspective, identify patterns and make connections.” Anangsha Alammyan

Alammyan shares how she got away from habits that weren’t serving her life (such as scrolling on social media) and instead turned her attention to focus on reading. She shares how she changed her schedule and time management processes to allow herself to devote more time to reading, and she also shares the many ways that she benefited from spending more time on her Kindle and less time on her phone.

3.  How My Diagnosis Improved My College Experience  By Blair Kenney

“When my learning specialist convinced me that I was an intelligent person with a reading disorder, I gradually stopped hiding from what I was most afraid of—the belief that I was a person of mediocre intelligence with overambitious goals for herself. As I slowly let go of this fear, I became much more aware of my learning issues. For the first time, I felt that I could dig below the surface of my unhappiness in school without being ashamed of what I might find.” Blair Kenney

Reading does not come easily to everyone, and dyslexia can make it especially difficult for a person to process words. In this essay, Kenney shares her experience of being diagnosed with dyslexia during her sophomore year of college at Yale. She gave herself more patience, grew in her confidence, and developed techniques that worked to improve her reading and processing skills.

“I took that book home to finish reading it. I’d sit somewhat uncomfortably in a tree or against a stone wall or, more often than not, in my sparsely decorated bedroom with the door closed as my mother had hushed arguments with my father on the phone. There were many things in the book that went over my head during my first time reading it. But a land left with neither Rhyme nor Reason, as I listened to my parents fight, that I understood.” Isaac Fitzgerald

Books can transport a reader to another world. In this essay, Fitzgerald explains how Norton Juster’s novel allowed him to escape a difficult time in his childhood through the magic of his imagination. Writing about a book that had a significant impact on your childhood can help you form an instant connection with your reader, as many people hold a childhood literature favorite near and dear to their hearts.

“From the first paragraph my mind was blown wide open. It not only changed my whole perspective on what literature could be, it changed the way I looked at myself in relation to the world. This was heavy stuff. Of the countless books I had read up to this point, even the ones written in first person, none of them felt like they were speaking directly to me. Not really anyway.” Pat Kelly

Many readers have had the experience of feeling like a book was written specifically for them, and in this essay, Kelly shares that experience with J.D. Salinger’s classic American novel. Writing about a book that felt like it was written specifically for you can give you the chance to share what was happening in your life when you read the book and the lasting impact that the book had on you as a person.

There are several topic options to choose from when you’re writing about reading. You may want to write about how literature you love has changed your life or how others can develop their reading skills to derive similar pleasure from reading.

Topic ideas for essays about reading

Middle and high school students who struggle with reading can feel discouraged when, despite their best efforts, their skills do not improve. Research the latest educational techniques for boosting reading skills in high school students (the research often changes) and offer concrete tips (such as using active reading skills) to help students grow.

It’s an excellent persuasive essay topic; it’s fun to write about the piece of literature you believe to be the greatest of all time. Of course, much of this topic is a matter of opinion, and it’s impossible to prove that one piece of literature is “better” than another. Write your essay about how the piece of literature you consider the best positive affected your life and discuss how it’s impacted the world of literature in general.

The world is full of many perspectives and points of view, and it can be hard to imagine the world through someone else’s eyes. Reading books by authors of different gender, race, or socioeconomic status can help open your eyes to the challenges and issues others face. Explain how reading books by authors with different backgrounds has changed your worldview in your essay.

It’s fun to read the information that reinforces viewpoints that you already have, but doing so doesn’t contribute to expanding your mind and helping you see the world from a different perspective. Explain how pushing oneself to see a different point of view can help you better understand your perspective and help open your eyes to ideas you may not have considered.

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

If you’re stuck picking your next essay topic, check out our round-up of essay topics about education .

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an essay on what is reading

Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.

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Essay on Importance of Reading, with Outline

Published by gudwriter on June 9, 2022 June 9, 2022

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Why is Reading Important Essay Outline


Thesis: Reading is essential in the life any child or adult since it is a pre-requisite to success.

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Reading also develops imagination and helps people build their self-esteem.

Perhaps you might be interested in reading a sample speech on the importance of reading .

Essay on Importance of Reading

Reading is one of the most critical activities any child can engage in for his or her success in life. However, in the course of life people are faced with different challenges that outweigh the desire to read, and without proper guidance, they might never overcome these obstacles. Almost every individual has been involved in the learning process where one is taught how to read and write. In this case, the most significant process is learning how to read and write a specific language. Reading is essential in the life of any child or adult since it is a pre-requisite to success.

Learning how to read is a sequential process. In every step, there is the building of skills or the mastery of previously learned skills. For instance, in the first few years in the life of a child, he or she is taught how to convert words into sound in a process referred to as decoding (Arrington et al., 2014). Later on, they are taught how to comprehend and understand the meaning of the words they utter by organizing them into sentences and passages.

The process of decoding is the basic foundation of every child’s reading skills. To most children, the process takes place automatically or naturally. However, some children have problems with this process and might therefore require significant teaching by their teacher or caretaker. The mostly affected people in this regard are young people who have disabilities in reading and need serious interventions. According to Nelson, Lindstrom and Foels (2015), approximately 85% of children are diagnosed with a challenge in reading or related skills in language development. Some or all of these disabilities can be classified as neuro-developmental, meaning they cannot go away but can only be managed. In essence, a majority of these children can be taught how to read to become proficient readers who can understand the basic strategies needed for success in school. In cases where a child’s disability in reading is identified at an early age, they can be taught how best to deal with the situation.

The identification of learning disabilities in a child at an early age emphasizes the importance of reading. Reading is not only an essential activity for children but also adults. It exposes an individual to new things, ideas, and information, and equips them to become effective problem solvers. Sometimes, reading ends being a hobby to many people, or even a career. It is from reading that exploration arises.

Reading also forms a fundamental part of self-improvement. Through it, people become better in understanding the world around them. It is through this vital activity that people gain a deep understanding of specific topics that are of interest to them. For instance, one can read an article or any other piece of writing on how to improve one’s self-confidence or how to memorize things. Such self-improvement techniques arise from reading (Ross, 2017). It is thus through reading that it becomes possible for one to create a structured path towards better understanding of issues and well-informed decision making.

Further, reading is crucial as it helps one to prepare to take action. Usually, before taking an action on anything, one seeks guidance and help. Guidance can be obtained from people who have gone through similar situations. However, some people turn to reading as a source of knowledge and guidance about a situation. In the 21st century, the need to receive guidance and help goes a long way in informing decision making. For example, one can read on how to cook a meal, how to play football, or even the best places to go for a vacation. In such situations, reading help people prepare before they take any significant steps.

It is also through reading that one may gain experience from other people. Since books and other reading material are written by different people from varying backgrounds, reading exposes a reader to different experiences. Through such experiences, a reader may hasten their success towards a goal since they might avoid similar mistakes made by other people. Books contain successes, failures, and advice from different people and it is assumed that life is too short to repeat mistakes committed by other people in the past (Arizpe, 2015). In the case of success, one might read on the best ways to make money and avoid certain mistakes along this path. Learning about and getting to understand people who have succeeded is essential for someone who intends to follow the same path.

Reading also develops imagination and helps people build their self-esteem. As one reads, the descriptions of things, places, and people they read about is translated into pictures by their brain (Cam Everlands Primary School, 2019). While reading a story for instance, a reader puts him or herself in the shoes of a character and imagines how the character feels. The knowledge gained in this manner can be applied in everyday life. In the same breadth, as noted by One World Literacy Foundation (2013), the more a person reads, the more educated they become. More education culminates into increased confidence which effectively increases self-esteem. One gets to expand their thinking capacity and become more creative as they read about how diverse life is and expose themselves to new information and ideas. A well-read person can provide answers to an array of general knowledge questions, a factor that significantly boosts self-confidence.

Reading is an essential milestone in the life of any child since it is a pre-requisite to success. Learning continues to be a necessary activity in the life of any individual. The first thing that children are taught when they go to school is the ability to read and write. Those children that have reading disabilities are taught using different techniques to ensure that they succeed. It is through reading that people learn how to avoid mistakes committed by other people, prepare to take action, improve their understanding, develop their imagination, and improve their self-esteem.

Arizpe, E., & Smith, V. (Eds.). (2015).  Children as readers in children’s literature: the power of texts and the importance of reading . New York, NY: Routledge.

Arrington, C. N., Kulesz, P. A., Francis, D. J., Fletcher, J. M., & Barnes, M. A. (2014). The contribution of attentional control and working memory to reading comprehension and decoding.  Scientific Studies of Reading ,  18 (5), 325-346.

Cam Everlands Primary School. (2019). “10 benefits of reading”. Cam Everlands Primary School . Retrieved February 23, 2019 from http://www.cameverlands.org.uk/10-benefits-of-reading/

Nelson, J. M., Lindstrom, W., & Foels, P. A. (2015). Test anxiety among college students with specific reading disability (dyslexia) nonverbal ability and working memory as predictors.  Journal of Learning Disabilities ,  48 (4), 422-432.

World Literacy Foundation. (2021). “Reading Improves Literacy”. World Literacy Foundation . Retrieved February 8, 2021 from https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/reading-aloud-improves-literacy-development/

Ross, C. M. (2017). Summer reading lists: the importance of reading.  BAOJ Neurol ,  3 , 040.

Another great essay to explore is the Great Gatsby American dream essay , with outline.

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Why is Reading Important for Your Growth?

Why Read copy

Want to escape without traveling anywhere? Looking to learn about a specific subject? Interested in knowing what it was like to live in the past? Reading can provide all of this and more for you! For anyone who wonders, “why is reading important?” we’re here to share the many reasons.

Yet, there are also some people who read because they are told they must for school. If you fit into that last categorization, then it may be useful to understand the many benefits of reading, which we will uncover here. We’ll also share why people read and what makes it so important.

Now all you have to do is….keep reading!

an essay on what is reading

The Many Benefits of Reading

Beyond reading, because you have to, the importance of reading cannot go unnoticed. Reading is of great value because it provides the means by which you get to:

Strengthens Brain Activity

Reading gets your mind working across different areas. For starters, it involves comprehension to process the words you read. Beyond that, you can use your analytical abilities, stimulate memories, and even broaden your imagination by reading words off a page.

Reading is a neurobiological process that works out your brain muscles. As you do so, you can help to slow down cognitive decline and even decrease the rate at which memory fades. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have even found that reading reduces the level of beta-amyloid, which is a protein in the brain that is connected to Alzheimer’s. Who knew that reading could have physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits?

Boosts communication skills

Both reading and writing work to improve one’s communication skills. That’s why if you’re looking to become a better writer, many of the suggestions that you come across will include reading more. Reading can open your eyes, literally and figuratively, to new words. Try this next time you read: if you come across any words you read that you don’t know, take a moment to look them up and write them down. Then, remember to use your new words in your speech so you don’t forget them!

Helps Self-Exploration

Books can be both an escape and an adventure. When you are reading, you have the opportunity to think about things in new ways, learn about cultures, events, and people you may have never otherwise heard of, and can adopt methods of thinking that help to reshape or enhance your identity. For example, you might read a mystery novel and learn that you have a knack and interest in solving cases and paying attention to clues.

Makes One Intellectually Sound

When you read a lot, you undoubtedly learn a lot. The more you read, you can make it to the level of being considered “well-read.” This tends to mean that you know a little (or a lot) about a lot. Having a diverse set of knowledge will make you a more engaging conversationalist and can empower you to speak to more people from different backgrounds and experiences because you can connect based on shared information. Some people may argue that “ignorance is bliss,” but the truth is “knowledge is power.” And, the more you read, the more you get to know! That’s why you can bet that any educational degree you choose to obtain will involve some forms of reading (yes, even math and computer science) .

It’s no wonder why you may see people reading by the pool, on the beach, or even on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Reading is a form of entertainment that can take you to fictional worlds or past points in time.

Imparts Good Values

Reading can teach values. Whether you read from a religious text or secular text, you can learn and teach the difference between right and wrong and explore various cultural perspectives and ways of life.

Enhances creativity

Reading has the potential to boost your levels of creativity. Whether you read about a specific craft or skill to boost it or you are reading randomly for fun, the words could spark new ideas or images in your mind. You may also start to find connections between seemingly disparate things, which can make for even more creative outputs and expressions.

Lowers Stress

If you don’t think that strengthening your brain is enough of a benefit, there’s even more good news. Reading has also been proven to lower stress as it increases relaxation. When the brain is fully focused on a single task, like reading, the reader gets to benefit from meditative qualities that reduce stress levels. 

an essay on what is reading

A Look at the Most Popular Books

As we celebrate World Book Day, take a look at some of the most popular books of all time. These should give you an idea of what book to pick up next time you’re at a library, in a bookstore, or ordering your next read online.

The Gift of Reading

Whether you had to work hard to learn to read or it came naturally, reading can be considered both a gift and a privilege. In fact, we can even bet that you read something every single day ( this blog, for instance), even if it’s not a book. From text messages to signs, emails to business documents, and everything in between, it’s hard to escape the need to read.

Reading opens up doors to new worlds, provides entertainment, boosts the imagination, and has positive neurological and psychological benefits. So, if anyone ever asks or you stop to think, “why is reading important” you’re now well-read on the subject to provide a detailed response and share your own purpose of reading!

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The process of writing an essay usually begins with the close reading of a text. Of course, the writer's personal experience may occasionally come into the essay, and all essays depend on the writer's own observations and knowledge. But most essays, especially academic essays, begin with a close reading of some kind of text—a painting, a movie, an event—and usually with that of a written  text. When you close read, you observe facts and details about the text. You may focus on a particular passage, or on the text as a whole. Your aim may be to notice all striking features of the text, including rhetorical features, structural elements, cultural references; or, your aim may be to notice only  selected  features of the text—for instance, oppositions and correspondences, or particular historical references. Either way, making these observations constitutes the first step in the process of close reading.

The second step is interpreting your observations. What we're basically talking about here is inductive reasoning: moving from the observation of particular facts and details to a conclusion, or interpretation, based on those observations. And, as with inductive reasoning, close reading requires careful gathering of data (your observations) and careful thinking about what these data add up to.

How to Begin:

1.  Read with a pencil in hand, and annotate the text.

"Annotating" means underlining or highlighting key words and phrases—anything that strikes you as surprising or significant, or that raises questions—as well as making notes in the margins. When we respond to a text in this way, we not only force ourselves to pay close attention, but we also begin to think with the author about the evidence—the first step in moving from reader to writer.

Here's a sample passage by anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eiseley. It's from his essay called "The Hidden Teacher."

. . . I once received an unexpected lesson from a spider. It happened far away on a rainy morning in the West. I had come up a long gulch looking for fossils, and there, just at eye level, lurked a huge yellow-and-black orb spider, whose web was moored to the tall spears of buffalo grass at the edge of the arroyo. It was her universe, and her senses did not extend beyond the lines and spokes of the great wheel she inhabited. Her extended claws could feel every vibration throughout that delicate structure. She knew the tug of wind, the fall of a raindrop, the flutter of a trapped moth's wing. Down one spoke of the web ran a stout ribbon of gossamer on which she could hurry out to investigate her prey.

Curious, I took a pencil from my pocket and touched a strand of the web. Immediately there was a response. The web, plucked by its menacing occupant, began to vibrate until it was a blur. Anything that had brushed claw or wing against that amazing snare would be thoroughly entrapped. As the vibrations slowed, I could see the owner fingering her guidelines for signs of struggle. A pencil point was an intrusion into this universe for which no precedent existed. Spider was circumscribed by spider ideas; its universe was spider universe. All outside was irrational, extraneous, at best raw material for spider. As I proceeded on my way along the gully, like a vast impossible shadow, I realized that in the world of spider I did not exist.

2.  Look for patterns in the things you've noticed about the text—repetitions, contradictions, similarities.

What do we notice in the previous passage? First, Eiseley tells us that the orb spider taught him a lesson, thus inviting us to consider what that lesson might be. But we'll let that larger question go for now and focus on particulars—we're working inductively. In Eiseley's next sentence, we find that this encounter "happened far away on a rainy morning in the West." This opening locates us in another time, another place, and has echoes of the traditional fairy tale opening: "Once upon a time . . .". What does this mean? Why would Eiseley want to remind us of tales and myth? We don't know yet, but it's curious. We make a note of it.

Details of language convince us of our location "in the West"— gulch, arroyo,  and  buffalo grass.  Beyond that, though, Eiseley calls the spider's web "her universe" and "the great wheel she inhabited," as in the great wheel of the heavens, the galaxies. By metaphor, then, the web becomes the universe, "spider universe." And the spider, "she," whose "senses did not extend beyond" her universe, knows "the flutter of a trapped moth's wing" and hurries "to investigate her prey." Eiseley says he could see her "fingering her guidelines for signs of struggle." These details of language, and others, characterize the "owner" of the web as thinking, feeling, striving—a creature much like ourselves. But so what?

3.  Ask questions about the patterns you've noticed—especially how and why.

To answer some of our own questions, we have to look back at the text and see what else is going on. For instance, when Eiseley touches the web with his pencil point—an event "for which no precedent existed"—the spider, naturally, can make no sense of the pencil phenomenon: "Spider was circumscribed by spider ideas." Of course, spiders don't have ideas, but we do. And if we start seeing this passage in human terms, seeing the spider's situation in "her universe" as analogous to our situation in our universe (which we think of as  the  universe), then we may decide that Eiseley is suggesting that our universe ( the  universe) is also finite, that  our  ideas are circumscribed, and that beyond the limits of our universe there might be phenomena as fully beyond our ken as Eiseley himself—that "vast impossible shadow"—was beyond the understanding of the spider.

But why vast and impossible, why a shadow? Does Eiseley mean God, extra-terrestrials? Or something else, something we cannot name or even imagine? Is this the lesson? Now we see that the sense of tale telling or myth at the start of the passage, plus this reference to something vast and unseen, weighs against a simple E.T. sort of interpretation. And though the spider can't explain, or even apprehend, Eiseley's pencil point, that pencil point  is  explainable—rational after all. So maybe not God. We need more evidence, so we go back to the text—the whole essay now, not just this one passage—and look for additional clues. And as we proceed in this way, paying close attention to the evidence, asking questions, formulating interpretations, we engage in a process that is central to essay writing and to the whole academic enterprise: in other words, we reason toward our own ideas.

Copyright 1998, Patricia Kain, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 14, 2022.

A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.

The main goals of an introduction are to:

This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Table of contents

Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

Examples: Writing a good hook

Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.

The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly  why the topic is important.

Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.

Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.

Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:

The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.

How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:

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Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.

This is the most important part of your introduction. A  good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.

The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.

Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.

As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.

For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.

When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.

It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.

You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.

Checklist: Essay introduction

My first sentence is engaging and relevant.

I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.

I have defined any important terms.

My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.

Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.

You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.

This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

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Last Updated 21 Mar 2023

Reading is Good Habit Essay

Reading is one of the most important and beneficial activities. If you have ever read a book in life you will know the pleasure and rewards of reading. Reading is the kind of exercise that keeps your mind engaged, active and healthy. It is important to develop the habit of reading not only for the sake of knowledge but also for personal growth and development.

It develops positive thinking and gives you a better perspective of life. Reading enhances your knowledge, improves your concentration and makes you more confident and debate ready. The more you read the more wise you become and the more you will be recognized and appreciated.

Long and Short Essay on Reading is a Good Habit in English

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Here are short and long essay on “Reading is a Good Habit” of varying lengths to help you with the topic in your exams/school assignments.

These Reading is a Good Habit Essay will inspire you to take up reading as a hobby, by letting you know the benefits of reading and the changes that it brings to your personality and life.

You can select any Reading is a Good Habit Essay as per your need and interest:

Essay on Reading is Good Habit – Essay 1 (200 words)

Reading daily is one of the best habits one can posses. It develops your imagination and provides you with a fortune of knowledge. Books are your best friend is rightly said as reading helps build up your confidence and uplifts your mood. Once you start reading, you experience a whole new world.

When you develop the habit of reading you eventually get addicted to it. Reading can help you grow and give a new perspective about life. Good books can influence you positively and guide you towards the right direction in life. The more you read the more you fall in love with reading. Reading develops language skills and vocabulary. Reading books is also a way to relax and reduce stress.

Reading increases creativity and enhances your understanding of life. Reading also inspires you to write and one can fall in love with writing as well. If we want to adopt some good habits in life then reading should definitely be on the top of our list. It plays a vital role in the optimistic growth and development of a person.

Reading leads to self-improvement. The pleasure of reading cannot be expressed in words. One needs to read to experience the joy of reading.

Essay on Importance of Good Reading Habits – Essay 2 (300 words)

Reading is one of the most important and best habits one can inculcate. Those who have the habit of reading are actually the ones who can really understand the value and pleasure of reading. There are very few who are aware of the advantages of reading good books.

Reading habits develop vivid imagination, knowledge and vocabulary. Here are some points describing importance of good reading habits:

There are many perks of good reading habits. It keeps your mind active, strong and healthy. Reading is important for your overall personal growth and development. Besides, you never feel bored or lonely if you develop good reading habits.

Essay on Reading and Its Importance – Essay 3 (400 words)

We do so many activities for entertainment but one is really missing out something if he/she is not reading. The most enjoyable and beneficial activity is reading. Reading is important because it is good for your overall well-being. Lying on a couch and reading a good book is the best way to reduce stress and have a tranquil day at home.

Reading has following positive effects on mind and body:

So it is very important to develop good reading habit. We must all read on a daily basis for at least 30 minutes to enjoy the sweet fruits of reading. It is a great pleasure to sit in a quiet place and enjoy reading. Reading a good book is the most enjoyable experience one can have.

Essay on Reasons Why Reading Habits Are Important – Essay 4 (500 Words)

Reading is one of the most important habits one needs to develop in life. It is rightly quoted that books are your best companions. Good books can inform you, enlighten you and lead you to the right direction. There is no better companion than a good book. Books give you a whole new experience. Developing reading habit from early age leads to enduring love for books.

1)    Sharpens your Mind: Reading is vital for the development of brain as it boosts your thinking and understanding. It enhances your critical thinking and analytical skills. It also improves the brain function. Reading gives you knowledge, information and new perception.

2)  Self Improvement: Reading helps you develop positive thinking. Reading is important because it develops your mind and gives you excessive knowledge and lessons of life. It helps you understand the world around you better. It keeps your mind active and enhances your creative ability.

3)  Reduces Stress: No matter how stressed or depressed you are due to personal life, work or any other problem in your life, reading a good book reduces your stress completely and enhances your mood. Reading helps you calm down your mind, releases strain from the muscles and slows down your heart rate.

4)  Increases Knowledge: Active reading is the process that enables lifelong learning. It is an avid thirst for knowledge. Books enable you to have glimpse in to cultures, traditions, arts, history, geography, health, psychology and several other subjects and aspects of life. You get amazing amount of knowledge and information from books.

5)    Develops your Analytical Skills: By active reading you explore several aspects of life. It involves questioning what you read. It helps you develop your thoughts and express your opinions. You engage your mind in understanding and thinking higher. You start comparing your perspective to the writer’s perspective. New ideas and thoughts pop up in your mind by active reading. It stimulates and develops your brain and gives you a new perspective.

6)    Boosts your Imagination and Creativity: Reading takes you to the world of imagination and enhances your creativity. Reading helps you explore life from different perspectives. While you read books you are building new and creative thoughts, images and opinions in your mind. It makes you think creatively, fantasize and use your imagination.

7)    Improves Communication: Active reading increases your vocabulary exponentially. You learn the art of using words creatively and effectively. You are able to communicate your thoughts and ideas effectively. Overall it will boost your confidence and enhance your communication skills.

8)    Reading is Pleasure: Not only is reading important for knowledge and information but it is an addiction. Once you indulge yourself into reading a good book, you will surely get addicted to it. It offers intense pleasure to read a good fiction and enter a whole new world. You go through several new feelings and emotions while you read.

Reading is one of the most interesting habits one can possess. It is important to develop the habit of reading daily. We can reap the aforementioned benefits once we develop the habit of reading.

Essay on Advantages of Reading Books – Essay 5 (600 words)

Reading books has the lot of psychological benefits. Those who have a habit of reading are aware of the pleasure and value of reading books then. They know its magic and power that renders knowledge and makes one wiser. When it comes to reading, most of us these days are addicted to reading online blogs, articles, stories and tweets. It is helpful for gaining lots of knowledge and information but reading a good book is healthier for our brain and a completely different experience. It does wonder for our brains as it is the activity that helps us focus. Reading is the best exercise for your brains.

As we all are aware that mental fitness is equally important as physical fitness so like our body even mind needs to work out daily to maintain fitness. It is important to read a good book at least for a few minutes each day to stretch the brain muscles for healthy functioning.

1)    Books are Your Best Friends: Books really are your best friends as you can rely on them when you are bored, upset, depressed, lonely or annoyed. They will accompany you anytime you want them and enhance your mood. They share with you information and knowledge any time you need. Good books always guide you to the correct path in life. You will never regret the company of a good book.

2)    Books are Your Best Teachers: Not only can good books be your best friend but also the best teacher. Reading good books will give you immense knowledge, information and a completely different experience. Reading will give you a new and better perspective of life. It will teach you new lessons of life.

3)    Great Pleasure: When I read a book, I read it for pleasure. I just indulge myself into reading and experience a whole new world. Once I start reading a book I get so captivated I never want to leave it until I finish. Most of the times it is not possible to finish the book in one sitting but there is always that curiosity until I finish the book. It always gives lot of pleasure to read a good book and cherish it for lifetime.

4)    Books Help You Sleep Better: Reading a book is recommended as one of the best habits to calm down your mind before you go to bed. It helps relieve stress. So, instead of using cell phones or watching TV you can always read a good book for a sound sleep.

5)  Communication Skills: Reading improves your vocabulary and develops your communication skills. It helps you learn how to use your language creatively. Not only does it improve your communication but it also makes you a better writer. Good communication is important in every aspect of life.

6)    Develops Critical Thinking: The chief benefit of reading good books is that it develops your critical thinking. The more you read the deeper you understand and process the information. Critical thinking is important in life to manage day to day situations.

7)    Reduces Stress: Reading a good book takes you in a new world and helps you relieve your day to day stress. It has several positive effects on your mind, body and soul. It stimulates your brain muscles and keeps your brain healthy and strong.

Reading books is the most fruitful way to use time. It keeps you occupied and helps you get rid of stress in life. Once you develop the habit of reading you can never get bored. It also improves the function of brain and is the best exercise for brain.

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What is reading?

"What is reading?" Ask a random person on the street this question and he or she might shrug and say, "Gee, it's just looking at the words on the page. If you can see, you can read." Well, the act of creating meaning from the symbols on the page is considerably more complex and draws on linguistic, cognitive, and experiential abilities beyond just the mere perception of typographical marks. The comprehension of written texts requires interpretation of language in print form. To make sense of those symbols, one must have a grasp of the "language code"-to have a storehouse of words in one's personal vocabulary and to understand how sentences are constructed in the language.

Reading is more than just knowing words and grammar, however. Think of a piece of text you perceive as gobbledygook: the annual report from your stock fund, tax publications, etc. You, as a fluent user of the language, can "read" the words but may have no understanding of the intended message.

To derive meaning from print, for it to make sense beyond mere "decoding," the reader must have a knowledge base, or "mental schema," in order to make associations with the concepts presented in the text. A person in the act of reading is actively, if unconsciously, engaged in a dialogue with the text, figuring out its meaning, linking it with known material or world experience, perhaps questioning or challenging the ideas presented on the page.

Definition of Reading

Many theories abound, but current thinking in the field of reading research proposes this definition of reading as "an interactive process in which the reader's prior knowledge of the world interacts with the message conveyed directly or indirectly by the text" ( Smith, 1995, p. 23 ). Let's "unpack" that definition:

Reading is a process . As such, it has various stages (before-, during-, and after-reading) at which different tasks need to be performed.

Reading is interactive. The mind of the reader interacts, conducts a dialogue, actively engages with the text to decode, assign meaning, and interpret.

The reader applies prior knowledge of the world to this act.

There is a message to be conveyed or constructed.

Skilled readers understand the process and employ different strategies automatically at each stage. Content area teachers can enhance a student's ability to understand the process and employ effective reading skills through classroom activities referred to as "instructional scaffolding" ( Vacca & Vacca, 1996 ).

Instructional Scaffolding

Instructional scaffolding of strategy instruction is a metaphor that refers to the idea of "initial, teacher-directed support, gradually withdrawn as the student gains facility with the skills." For each of the stages in the reading process that follow, the instructional scaffolding methodology can provide guidance to the student who needs support. Hallmarks of the instructional scaffolding methodology include (a) teacher modeling and explanation of the strategy, (b) guided practice, and (c) peer/collaborative learning opportunities.

Teacher modeling and explanation of the strategy involves the following steps:

Explain the strategy and why it is important.

Model (demonstrate) how to do it. The teacher uses a "think aloud" method to illustrate his/her thought process as he/she employs the strategy.

Explain when to use the strategy.

Guided practice involves the following:

Teachers and students practice the skill together, with the instructor providing feedback and correction.

The following peer/collaborative learning opportunities can occur either prior to or after reading:

Students work in peer groups to practice the target skills.

Through "reciprocal teaching," the teacher may demonstrate the skill on one "chunk" of text and then turn the reins over to a student who demonstrates the skill on the next section.

Writing based on Texts

Introduction: writing based on reading.

an essay on what is reading

There are many possible ways to write based on a text, ranging from more personal to more analytical:

write about an idea that occurred to you based on an association between the topic of the text and your own background knowledge
write based on an experience or other association that a text’s topic or content triggered
react to the text’s main idea or to a supporting idea – what do you, personally, think about the idea?
apply a concept or theory from the text to a new or different situation
analyze the logic of a text’s ideas to evaluate its quality
analyze how the author presents ideas in the text (word choice, sentence structure, organization)
analyze a text based on your understanding of a field of knowledge
compare the text with other texts

Writing for College: Essays

Much of the writing you do for college will be in the form of essays. An essay is a piece of writing that attempts to explain something, or analyze something, or present an author’s insight. These words—“attempt,” “explain,” “analyze,” “author’s insight”—should already give you the idea that an essay’s purpose is not simply to inform (e.g., describe the events of the first moon landing for the U.S.). Rather, an essay’s purpose, especially in an academic setting, is to provide a written explanation of your own ideas, interpretations, insights, and evaluations (e.g., why the first moon landing by the U.S. was important to our economy, or how the first moon landing influenced architectural design in the 1960s, or what the effects of the first moon landing were on foreign relations). It’s your thinking and viewpoint that are important in essay writing; an essay offers your direct reflection on, or analysis of, a focused topic.

College writing often involves essay writing because the very purpose of a college education is to further develop your thinking skills, foster new insights and interpretations, create and analyze an argument in terms of appropriate evidence, question concepts, and provide your own interpretation of ideas. Essays help you do that—writing an essay, based on your ideas, often helps you formulate those ideas as well.

And That’s Where Reading Skills Come In…

When you write essays based on reading, this is where the skills and strategies for understanding a text come into play. For example, considering your own background and relationship to the topic of a text will help you activate your own thoughts and experiences about that topic. Summarizing either sections of a text or a whole text will help you crystallize and articulate the text’s ideas so that you can explore them further. Annotating a text as you read helps you record your own thoughts. Looking at any questions you noted will help you consider if they were answered by your reading of the text, or if the text itself generated new questions that you want to explore. Noticing the logic of a text’s argument will help you decide what you think about that argument. Reading and writing support one another, as they both have the end goal of activating and articulating your own thoughts.

an essay on what is reading

Go back to the concept of reading as joining a conversation. When you write, you also join a conversation with the text that you’ve read and with others who have written about the same ideas. As a writer, you don’t offer your ideas in an enormous blank room where no one else exists and nothing else has ever happened. Instead, you offer your ideas in the real world where people with other opinions, values, beliefs, and experiences live. Those are the larger conversations you’ll participate in as you write based on texts in psychology, business management, literature, history…whatever your specific academic focus is in, and whatever text you’re reading at the moment. Essay writing is one way of participating in that conversation.

The video below offers some thoughts on the relationship between reading and writing.

Read the article “ How Crisco Toppled Lard – and Made Americans Believers in Industrial Food ” by Helen Zoe Veit. (Note that this article is the basis for other Try It exercises in this section of the text.)

Then answer this question: Identify as many possible perspectives that you can think of to write based on this text, from personal to analytical.  (answers will vary)

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What Is Proofreading?

Jennifer Calonia

Written communication is used in every part of your day. Whether you’re writing an essay for school, writing a formal report for work, or writing a message or email online, it’s important to reread the text to ensure it’s written accurately and clearly.

This is where proofreading comes in. Learn how proofreading your work for writing mistakes can help you avoid confusion and miscommunication in your message.  

Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing shines? Grammarly can check your spelling and save you from grammar and punctuation mistakes. It even proofreads your text, so your work is extra polished wherever you write.

Your writing, at its best Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly

What is proofreading?

The word “ proofreading ” came from the traditional publishing industry. Before digital publishing gained popularity, publishers would print an early copy of a text (the “proof”). A final review of the proof was performed by a proofreader who’s responsible for catching any grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors or inconsistencies.

Although the text or manuscript might’ve gone through top editing, line editing, and copy editing, some errors can still get missed in these early review stages. Proofreading, however, is the last opportunity to correct any errors that might’ve slipped past before it’s published. 

Proofreading tips

Since proofreading is such an important step in the writing process, it helps to know a few ways to improve your proofreading skills . One or all of the following tips can help you catch mistakes before your document is submitted:

These are just a few ways to develop your proofreading skills on your own. You can try one approach or a combination of them to see what’s most effective for you. 

Proofreading vs. editing

Although proofreading is a part of the editing process, editing involves a few key differences. Editors who reviewed the document before a proofreader are often focused on other elements of the text. 

For example, a top editor might review the document to ensure the ideas and arguments are effective or rework sentences and sections so the entire document flows cohesively. And although a copy editor is responsible for fixing grammatical and spelling errors, they also focus on keeping a publication’s style preference consistent throughout. 

In addition to correcting errors that might’ve slipped past previous editing steps, proofreading ensures that other pre-publication factors, like page formatting, line spacing, and typography are accurate.

Using a proofreading service

Practicing the proofreading techniques shared above can help you minimize the mistakes on your document before submitting it. Although self-proofing is a skill all writers should practice, using a professional service like Grammarly’s add-on proofreading service can offer extra assurance that your final text is mistake-free.

You can choose to have a Grammarly proofreader review your document for correctness, like fixing grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax . Another proofreading service option is having an expert proofreader review the text for correctness and clarity. For this selection, Grammarly’s proofreader will check for all areas of correctness above, but also ensure that the text is concise and understandable.

To submit a Grammarly proofreading request, click on “Get Expert Writing Help” in the Grammarly Editor, or order this service through Grammarly for Microsoft Office. 

an essay on what is reading


Essay on The Importance of Reading

Effects of reading by dana gioia.

The author suggests that not reading has worse results that goes beyond just literature. The author persuades this argument by bringing up a real life situation such as getting a job. He quotes an author by the name of Daniel Pink, “the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities”, when asked what kind of talents he likes to see in management positions. Here, the autor does a good job persuading

My Love For Reading : My Importance Of Reading

In retrospect, my biggest regret in high school was not reading enough books. Due to my passion for math and science, reading has always been secondary to me. For most of high school, I never read much more than what was required of me. It was easy for me to dismiss everything that was not directly relevant to my ideal career path. However, now that I understand and appreciate the purpose of reading, I regret my neglect of it. Although I have not always recognized the importance of reading, reading has largely affected the way I think, building and helping me to discover my personal beliefs.

What Is Reading: Why Reading Is Important?

Reading" is the process which involves looking at a series of written symbols and getting meaning from them. When we read, we use our eyes to receive written symbols (letters, punctuation marks and spaces) and we use our brain to convert them into words, sentences and paragraphs that communicate something to us.

George Gladwell Research Paper

Reading, an activity that has been around for years, centuries even; appears to be reaching the end of its popularity among the modern youth. Reading literature remains the key to a successful and cultured society. Today the ability to read remains highly valued. In our advancing world, there remains much more to learn and know; the importance of reading is increasing. During the Victorian era, wealthy people gathered around and read books for an hour or so, seeing that being able to read was a sign of social status. But, today people not only read for pleasure and knowledge, but to educate and catch up with the events taking place all around us. Almost every job today, requires the basic ability to know how to read and write.

My Literacy Autobiography

As a girl growing up around a group of bikers, boys and two parents who listened to eighties hair bands and metal, you wouldn’t think that I read or was read to frequently before starting school. I pursued in reading quite often, actually. When I finally started school, I had the tendency of keeping to myself and staying quiet. There never have been very many friends in the picture of my life. I learned at a young age that there often are going to be cliques, even when you’re an eight year old in girl scouts. I stood out in more ways than one, but for now I’m only going to elucidate why reading is so salient to me.

Rhetorical Analysis Of The Pleasure Of Books

Being a reader means you’re more likely to learn something new every day; William Lyon Phelps is an enthusiast of reading. In his speech The Pleasure of Books he writes to persuade everyone to read, “Books are for use, not for show; you should own no book that you are afraid to mark up, or afraid to place on the table, wide open and face down.” When Phelps wrote this speech the time period was the middle ages when German students gathered in Berlin to burn books with “un-German” ideas. The speech itself is telling the readers and listeners that books provide knowledge, and they are an advantage that we have as humans. Reading is fundamental for a human being, and are written for you to read. In The Pleasure of Books, William

Personal Narrative: My Literacy Journey

In today’s society reading is essential to function. Everywhere people turn they are required to read directions, labels, books, what’s going on in the news, or mandatory rules they need to follow. Just think about if a majority of the world couldn’t read how chaotic society would be.

Reading For Pleaser Is In Painful Decline By Stephen L. Carter Summary

Reading for pleasure seems to be a concept that as time goes on becomes not as well-known as before. Long term effects of not reading in our in our society could become a problem. Stephen L. Carter believes that the decline in reading is not a good thing for the United States. In the article “Reading for Pleaser Is in Painful Decline” by Stephen L. Carter, he shows significant evidence that the state of reading has declined in the United States.

Wingate University: A Personal Analysis

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Henry David Thoreau And Ben Franklin

Ages ago, spanning from when the Greeks ruled and well into the time when the Colonists first came to America, reading was a skill only the wealthy and the very lucky had the privilege to learn. In those times reading wasn’t necessary to work and to be successful. However, now in this modern era, reading has become necessary for everyday life; it has become vital to a society that is ever more dependent on technology. Nevertheless, reading is beneficial in ways that listening and watching movies can never be. The works of Anne Bradstreet, Henry David Thoreau, and Ben Franklin help acknowledge this idea through the impacts they have had on readers still today.

Learning To Read And Write An Essay About The Importance Of Literacy

The importance of learning how to read and write is called, literacy. “Oh my gosh! I want to rip my hairs out!” I told myself this as I was writing a research paper in the eighth grade. Reading and writing used to feel like a chore, until one day when my English teacher saw me struggling and was determined to help me enjoy it if not even love it.

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Deep Reading Annie Murphy Paul Analysis

The importance of deep reading has its many benefits. In todays’ society, people are using their digital devices instead of reading printed materials every day. Throughout the passage, the author, Annie Murphy Paul persuades the audience on how deep reading is beneficial and how it is important for a variety of reasons. She grasps the reader’s attention on how people could benefit from this.

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I wouldn’t say that I am a good writer, and I really don’t like to read books either. Through my years in school I became literate in these two categories. I was and still am not interested in writing, or reading books in my spare time. The only writing I have ever done is for school. Writing just does not interest me, and the only reading I do out of class is reading about sports in magazines, or reading the news, or looking at web pages. I have only read a couple of books on my own, 95% of all the books I have read have been for school. The reason for not writing out of class is probably attributed to the fact that I am a very impatient person, and I have a short attention span. I have no interest in writing and reading so when

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If you couldn’t read or write, how would you tackle your daily life? Being literate is a crucial part of everyone’s life; reading and writing are essential for a person’s success. Every single day, it’s used, whether it’s for an Advanced Placement Language class or reading a billboard as you’re driving past. As a child, I grew up reading on a daily basis and I believe that I am as successful as I am on behalf of it. Countless memories have been created, thanks to the multiple books that have been read and the umpteen amount of papers that I’ve written. Throughout the numerous years of my education, my teachers and parents left a long lasting impact on my reading and writing skills.

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What is an Essay?

10 May, 2020

11 minutes read

Author:  Tomas White

Well, beyond a jumble of words usually around 2,000 words or so - what is an essay, exactly? Whether you’re taking English, sociology, history, biology, art, or a speech class, it’s likely you’ll have to write an essay or two. So how is an essay different than a research paper or a review? Let’s find out!

What is an essay

Defining the Term – What is an Essay?

The essay is a written piece that is designed to present an idea, propose an argument, express the emotion or initiate debate. It is a tool that is used to present writer’s ideas in a non-fictional way. Multiple applications of this type of writing go way beyond, providing political manifestos and art criticism as well as personal observations and reflections of the author.

what is an essay

An essay can be as short as 500 words, it can also be 5000 words or more.  However, most essays fall somewhere around 1000 to 3000 words ; this word range provides the writer enough space to thoroughly develop an argument and work to convince the reader of the author’s perspective regarding a particular issue.  The topics of essays are boundless: they can range from the best form of government to the benefits of eating peppermint leaves daily. As a professional provider of custom writing, our service has helped thousands of customers to turn in essays in various forms and disciplines.

Origins of the Essay

Over the course of more than six centuries essays were used to question assumptions, argue trivial opinions and to initiate global discussions. Let’s have a closer look into historical progress and various applications of this literary phenomenon to find out exactly what it is.

Today’s modern word “essay” can trace its roots back to the French “essayer” which translates closely to mean “to attempt” .  This is an apt name for this writing form because the essay’s ultimate purpose is to attempt to convince the audience of something.  An essay’s topic can range broadly and include everything from the best of Shakespeare’s plays to the joys of April.

The essay comes in many shapes and sizes; it can focus on a personal experience or a purely academic exploration of a topic.  Essays are classified as a subjective writing form because while they include expository elements, they can rely on personal narratives to support the writer’s viewpoint.  The essay genre includes a diverse array of academic writings ranging from literary criticism to meditations on the natural world.  Most typically, the essay exists as a shorter writing form; essays are rarely the length of a novel.  However, several historic examples, such as John Locke’s seminal work “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” just shows that a well-organized essay can be as long as a novel.

The Essay in Literature

The essay enjoys a long and renowned history in literature.  They first began gaining in popularity in the early 16 th century, and their popularity has continued today both with original writers and ghost writers.  Many readers prefer this short form in which the writer seems to speak directly to the reader, presenting a particular claim and working to defend it through a variety of means.  Not sure if you’ve ever read a great essay? You wouldn’t believe how many pieces of literature are actually nothing less than essays, or evolved into more complex structures from the essay. Check out this list of literary favorites:

Pretty much as long as writers have had something to say, they’ve created essays to communicate their viewpoint on pretty much any topic you can think of!

Top essays in literature

The Essay in Academics

Not only are students required to read a variety of essays during their academic education, but they will likely be required to write several different kinds of essays throughout their scholastic career.  Don’t love to write?  Then consider working with a ghost essay writer !  While all essays require an introduction, body paragraphs in support of the argumentative thesis statement, and a conclusion, academic essays can take several different formats in the way they approach a topic.  Common essays required in high school, college, and post-graduate classes include:

Five paragraph essay

This is the most common type of a formal essay. The type of paper that students are usually exposed to when they first hear about the concept of the essay itself. It follows easy outline structure – an opening introduction paragraph; three body paragraphs to expand the thesis; and conclusion to sum it up.

Argumentative essay

These essays are commonly assigned to explore a controversial issue.  The goal is to identify the major positions on either side and work to support the side the writer agrees with while refuting the opposing side’s potential arguments.

Compare and Contrast essay

This essay compares two items, such as two poems, and works to identify similarities and differences, discussing the strength and weaknesses of each.  This essay can focus on more than just two items, however.  The point of this essay is to reveal new connections the reader may not have considered previously.

Definition essay

This essay has a sole purpose – defining a term or a concept in as much detail as possible. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, not quite. The most important part of the process is picking up the word. Before zooming it up under the microscope, make sure to choose something roomy so you can define it under multiple angles. The definition essay outline will reflect those angles and scopes.

Descriptive essay

Perhaps the most fun to write, this essay focuses on describing its subject using all five of the senses.  The writer aims to fully describe the topic; for example, a descriptive essay could aim to describe the ocean to someone who’s never seen it or the job of a teacher.  Descriptive essays rely heavily on detail and the paragraphs can be organized by sense.

Illustration essay

The purpose of this essay is to describe an idea, occasion or a concept with the help of clear and vocal examples. “Illustration” itself is handled in the body paragraphs section. Each of the statements, presented in the essay needs to be supported with several examples. Illustration essay helps the author to connect with his audience by breaking the barriers with real-life examples – clear and indisputable.

Informative Essay

Being one the basic essay types, the informative essay is as easy as it sounds from a technical standpoint. High school is where students usually encounter with informative essay first time. The purpose of this paper is to describe an idea, concept or any other abstract subject with the help of proper research and a generous amount of storytelling.

Narrative essay

This type of essay focuses on describing a certain event or experience, most often chronologically.  It could be a historic event or an ordinary day or month in a regular person’s life. Narrative essay proclaims a free approach to writing it, therefore it does not always require conventional attributes, like the outline. The narrative itself typically unfolds through a personal lens, and is thus considered to be a subjective form of writing.

Persuasive essay

The purpose of the persuasive essay is to provide the audience with a 360-view on the concept idea or certain topic – to persuade the reader to adopt a certain viewpoint. The viewpoints can range widely from why visiting the dentist is important to why dogs make the best pets to why blue is the best color.  Strong, persuasive language is a defining characteristic of this essay type.

Types of essays

The Essay in Art

Several other artistic mediums have adopted the essay as a means of communicating with their audience.  In the visual arts, such as painting or sculpting, the rough sketches of the final product are sometimes deemed essays.  Likewise, directors may opt to create a film essay which is similar to a documentary in that it offers a personal reflection on a relevant issue.  Finally, photographers often create photographic essays in which they use a series of photographs to tell a story, similar to a narrative or a descriptive essay.

Drawing the line – question answered

“What is an Essay?” is quite a polarizing question. On one hand, it can easily be answered in a couple of words. On the other, it is surely the most profound and self-established type of content there ever was. Going back through the history of the last five-six centuries helps us understand where did it come from and how it is being applied ever since.

If you must write an essay, follow these five important steps to works towards earning the “A” you want:

Generally speaking, when you must write any type of essay, start sooner rather than later!  Don’t procrastinate – give yourself time to develop your perspective and work on crafting a unique and original approach to the topic.  Remember: it’s always a good idea to have another set of eyes (or three) look over your essay before handing in the final draft to your teacher or professor.  Don’t trust your fellow classmates?  Consider hiring an editor or a ghostwriter to help out!

If you are still unsure on whether you can cope with your task – you are in the right place to get help. HandMadeWriting is the perfect answer to the question “Who can write my essay?”

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

Due to human nature, we draw conclusions only when life gives us a lesson since the experience of others is not so effective and powerful. Therefore, when analyzing and sorting out common problems we face, we may trace a parallel with well-known book characters or real historical figures. Moreover, we often compare our situations with […]

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Writing a research paper on ethics is not an easy task, especially if you do not possess excellent writing skills and do not like to contemplate controversial questions. But an ethics course is obligatory in all higher education institutions, and students have to look for a way out and be creative. When you find an […]

Art Research Paper Topics

Art Research Paper Topics

Students obtaining degrees in fine art and art & design programs most commonly need to write a paper on art topics. However, this subject is becoming more popular in educational institutions for expanding students’ horizons. Thus, both groups of receivers of education: those who are into arts and those who only get acquainted with art […]

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Notes from Prince Harry’s Ghostwriter

By J. R. Moehringer

A portrait of Prince Harry composed of scribbles that evoke writing on a yellow piece of binder paper.

I was exasperated with Prince Harry. My head was pounding, my jaw was clenched, and I was starting to raise my voice. And yet some part of me was still able to step outside the situation and think, This is so weird . I’m shouting at Prince Harry. Then, as Harry started going back at me, as his cheeks flushed and his eyes narrowed, a more pressing thought occurred: Whoa, it could all end right here.

This was the summer of 2022. For two years, I’d been the ghostwriter on Harry’s memoir, “ Spare ,” and now, reviewing his latest edits in a middle-of-the-night Zoom session, we’d come to a difficult passage. Harry, at the close of gruelling military exercises in rural England, gets captured by pretend terrorists. It’s a simulation, but the tortures inflicted upon Harry are very real. He’s hooded, dragged to an underground bunker, beaten, frozen, starved, stripped, forced into excruciating stress positions by captors wearing black balaclavas. The idea is to find out if Harry has the toughness to survive an actual capture on the battlefield. (Two of his fellow-soldiers don’t; they crack.) At last, Harry’s captors throw him against a wall, choke him, and scream insults into his face, culminating in a vile dig at—Princess Diana?

Even the fake terrorists engrossed in their parts, even the hard-core British soldiers observing from a remote location, seem to recognize that an inviolate rule has been broken. Clawing that specific wound, the memory of Harry’s dead mother, is out of bounds. When the simulation is over, one of the participants extends an apology.

Harry always wanted to end this scene with a thing he said to his captors, a comeback that struck me as unnecessary, and somewhat inane. Good for Harry that he had the nerve, but ending with what he said would dilute the scene’s meaning: that even at the most bizarre and peripheral moments of his life, his central tragedy intrudes. For months, I’d been crossing out the comeback, and for months Harry had been pleading for it to go back in. Now he wasn’t pleading, he was insisting, and it was 2 A.M. , and I was starting to lose it. I said, “Dude, we’ve been over this.”

Why was this one line so important? Why couldn’t he accept my advice? We were leaving out a thousand other things—that’s half the art of memoir, leaving stuff out—so what made this different? Please, I said, trust me. Trust the book.

Although this wasn’t the first time that Harry and I had argued, it felt different; it felt as if we were hurtling toward some kind of decisive rupture, in part because Harry was no longer saying anything. He was just glaring into the camera. Finally, he exhaled and calmly explained that, all his life, people had belittled his intellectual capabilities, and this flash of cleverness proved that, even after being kicked and punched and deprived of sleep and food, he had his wits about him.

“Oh,” I said. “O.K.” It made sense now. But I still refused.

Because, I told him, everything you just said is about you. You want the world to know that you did a good job, that you were smart. But, strange as it may seem, memoir isn’t about you. It’s not even the story of your life. It’s a story carved from your life, a particular series of events chosen because they have the greatest resonance for the widest range of people, and at this point in the story those people don’t need to know anything more than that your captors said a cruel thing about your mom.

Harry looked down. A long time. Was he thinking? Seething? Should I have been more diplomatic? Should I have just given in? I imagined I’d be thrown off the book soon after sunup. I could almost hear the awkward phone call with Harry’s agent, and I was sad. Never mind the financial hit—I was focussed on the emotional shock. All the time, the effort, the intangibles I’d invested in Harry’s memoir, in Harry, would be gone just like that.

After what seemed like an hour, Harry looked up, and we locked eyes. “O.K.,” he said.

“Yes. I get it.”

“Thank you, Harry,” I said, relieved.

He shot me a mischievous grin. “I really enjoy getting you worked up like that.”

I burst into laughter and shook my head, and we moved on to his next set of edits.

Later that morning, after a few hours of sleep, I sat outside worrying. (Mornings are my worry time, along with afternoons and evenings.) I didn’t worry so much about the propriety of arguing with princes, or even the risks. One of a ghostwriter’s main jobs is having a big mouth. You win some, you lose most, but you have to keep pushing, not unlike a demanding parent or a tyrannical coach. Otherwise, you’re nothing but a glorified stenographer, and that’s disloyalty to the author, to the book—to books. Opposition is true Friendship, William Blake wrote, and if I had to choose a ghostwriting credo, that would be it.

No, rather than the rightness of going after Harry, I was questioning the heat with which I’d done so. I scolded myself: It’s not your comeback. It’s not your mother. For the thousandth time in my ghostwriting career, I reminded myself: It’s not your effing book.

Some days, the phone doesn’t stop. Ghostwriters in distress. They ask for ten minutes, half an hour. A coffee date.

“My author can’t remember squat.”

“My author and I have come to despise each other.”

“I can’t get my author to call me back—is it normal for a ghost to get ghosted?”

At the outset, I do what ghostwriters do. I listen. And eventually, after the callers talk themselves out, I ask a few gentle questions. The first (aside from “How did you get this number?”) is always: How bad do you want it? Because things can go sideways in a hurry. An author might know nothing about writing, which is why he hired a ghost. But he may also have the literary self-confidence of Saul Bellow, and good luck telling Saul Bellow that he absolutely may not describe an interesting bowel movement he experienced years ago, as I once had to tell an author. So fight like crazy, I say, but always remember that if push comes to shove no one will have your back. Within the text and without, no one wants to hear from the dumb ghostwriter.

I try not to sound didactic. A lot of what I’ve read about ghostwriting, much of it from accomplished ghostwriters, doesn’t square with my experience. Recording the author? Terrible idea—it makes many authors feel as if they’re being deposed. Dressing like the author? It’s a memoir, not a masquerade party. The ghostwriter for Julian Assange wrote twenty-five thousand words about his methodology , and it sounded to me like Elon Musk on mushrooms—on Mars. That same ghost, however, published a review of “ Spare ” describing Harry as “ off his royal tits ” and me as going “all Sartre or Faulkner,” so what do I know? Who am I to offer rules? Maybe the alchemy of each ghost-author pairing is unique.

Therefore, I simply remind the callers that ghostwriting is an art and urge them not to let those who cast it as hacky, shady, or faddish (it’s been around for thousands of years) dim their pride. I also tell them that they’re providing a vital public service, helping to shore up the publishing industry, since most of the titles on this week’s best-seller list were written by someone besides the named author.

Adult and child sitting at piano bench.

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Signing off, the callers usually sigh and say thanks and grumble something like “Well, whatever happens, I’m never doing this again.” And I tell them yes, they will, and wish them luck.

How does a person even become a ghostwriter? What’s the path into a profession for which there is no school or certification, and to which no one actually aspires? You never hear a kid say, “One day, I want to write other people’s books.” And yet I think I can detect some hints, some foreshadowing in my origins.

When I was growing up in Manhasset, New York, people would ask: Where’s your dad? My typical answer was an embarrassed shrug. Beats me. My old man wasn’t around, that’s all I knew, all any grownup had the heart to tell me. And yet he was also everywhere. My father was a well-known rock-and-roll d.j., so his Sam Elliott basso profundo was like the Long Island Rail Road, rumbling in the distance at maddeningly regular intervals.

Every time I caught his show, I’d feel confused, empty, sad, but also amazed at how much he had to say. The words, the jokes, the patter—it didn’t stop. Was it my Oedipal counterstrike to fantasize an opposite existence, one in which I just STFU? Less talking, more listening, that was my basic life plan at age ten. In Manhasset, an Irish-Italian enclave, I was surrounded by professional listeners: bartenders and priests. Neither of those careers appealed to me, so I waited, and one afternoon found myself sitting with a cousin at the Squire theatre, in Great Neck, watching a matinée of “All the President’s Men.” Reporters seemed to do nothing but listen. Then they got to turn what they heard into stories, which other people read—no talking required. Sign me up.

My first job out of college was at the New York Times . When I wasn’t fetching coffee and corned beef, I was doing “legwork,” which meant running to a fire, a trial, a murder scene, then filing a memo back to the newsroom. The next morning, I’d open the paper and see my facts, maybe my exact words, under someone else’s name. I didn’t mind; I hated my name. I was born John Joseph Moehringer, Jr., and Senior was M.I.A. Not seeing my name, his name, wasn’t a problem. It was a perk.

Many days at the Times , I’d look around the newsroom, with its orange carpet and pipe-puffing lifers and chattering telex machines, and think, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. And then the editors suggested I go somewhere else.

I went west. I got a job at the Rocky Mountain News , a tabloid founded in 1859. Its first readers were the gold miners panning the rivers and creeks of the Rockies, and though I arrived a hundred and thirty-one years later, the paper still read as if it were written for madmen living alone in them thar hills. The articles were thumb-length, the fact checking iffy, and the newsroom mood, many days, bedlam. Some oldsters were volubly grumpy about being on the back slopes of middling careers, others were blessed with unjustified swagger, and a few were dangerously loose cannons. (I’ll never forget the Sunday morning our religion writer, in his weekly column, referred to St. Joseph as “Christ’s stepdad.” The phones exploded.) The general lack of quality control made the paper a playground for me. I was able to go slow, learn from mistakes without being defined by them, and build up rudimentary skills, like writing fast.

What I did best, I discovered, was write for others. The gossip columnist spent most nights in downtown saloons, hunting for scoops, and some mornings he’d shuffle into the newsroom looking rough. One morning, he fixed his red eyes on me, gestured toward his notes, and rasped, “Would you?” I sat at his desk and dashed off his column in twenty minutes. What a rush. Writing under no name was safe; writing under someone else’s name (and picture) was hedonic—a kind of hiding and seeking. Words had never come easy for me, but, when I wrote as someone else, the words, the jokes, the patter—it didn’t stop.

In the fall of 2006, my phone rang. Unknown number. But I instantly recognized the famously soft voice: for two decades, he’d loomed over the tennis world. Now, on the verge of retiring, he told me that he was decompressing from the emotions of the moment by reading my memoir, “ The Tender Bar, ” which had recently been published. It had him thinking about writing his own. He wondered if I’d come talk to him about it. A few weeks later, we met at a restaurant in his home town, Las Vegas.

Andre Agassi and I were very different, but our connection was instant. He had an eighth-grade education but a profound respect for people who read and write books. I had a regrettably short sporting résumé (my Little League fastball was unhittable) but deep reverence for athletes. Especially the solitaries: tennis players, prizefighters, matadors, who possess that luminous charisma which comes from besting opponents single-handedly. But Andre didn’t want to talk about that. He hated tennis, he said. He wanted to talk about memoir. He had a list of questions. He asked why my memoir was so confessional. I told him that’s how you know you can trust an author—if he’s willing to get raw.

He asked why I’d organized my memoir around other people, rather than myself. I told him that was the kind of memoir I admired. There’s so much power to be gained, and honesty to be achieved, from taking an ostensibly navel-gazing genre and turning the gaze outward. Frank McCourt had a lot of feelings about his brutal Irish childhood, but he kept most of them to himself, focussing instead on his Dad, his Mam, his beloved siblings, the neighbors down the lane.

“I am a part of all that I have met.” It might’ve been that first night, or another, but at some point I shared that line from Tennyson, and Andre loved it. The same almost painful gratitude that I felt toward my mother, and toward my bartender uncle and his barfly friends, who helped her raise me, Andre felt for his trainer and his coach, and for his wife, Stefanie Graf.

But how, he asked, do you write about other people without invading their privacy? That’s the ultimate challenge, I said. I sought permission from nearly everyone I wrote about, and shared early drafts, but sometimes people aren’t speaking to you, and sometimes they’re dead. Sometimes, in order to tell the truth, you simply can’t avoid hurting someone’s feelings. It goes down easier, I said, if you’re equally unsparing about yourself.

He asked if I’d help him do it. I gave him a soft no. I liked his enthusiasm, his boldness—him. But I’d never imagined myself writing someone else’s book, and I already had a job. By now, I’d left the Rocky Mountain News and joined the Los Angeles Times . I was a national correspondent, doing long-form journalism, which I loved. Alas, the Times was about to change. A new gang of editors had come in, and not long after my dinner with Andre they let it be known that the paper would no longer prioritize long-form journalism.

Apart from a beef with my bosses, and apart from the money (Andre was offering a sizable bump from my reporter salary), what finally made me change my no to a yes, put my stuff into storage, and move to Vegas was the sense that Andre was suffering an intense and specific ache that I might be able to cure. He wanted to tell his story and didn’t know how; I’d been there. I’d struggled for years to tell my story.

Every attempt failed, and every failure took a heavy psychic toll. Some days, it felt like a physical blockage, and to this day I believe my story would’ve remained stuck inside me forever if not for one editor at the Times , who on a Sunday afternoon imparted some thunderbolt advice about memoir that steered me onto the right path. I wanted to give Andre that same grace.

Shortly before I moved to Vegas, a friend invited me to a fancy restaurant in the Phoenix suburbs for a gathering of sportswriters covering the 2008 Super Bowl. As the menus were being handed around, my friend clinked a knife against his glass and announced, “O.K., listen up! Moehringer here has been asked by Agassi to ghostwrite his—”

“Exactly. We’ve all done our share of these fucking things—”

Louder groans.

“Right! Our mission is not to leave this table until we’ve convinced this idiot to tell Agassi not just no but hell no.”

At once, the meal turned into a raucous meeting of Ghostwriters Anonymous. Everyone had a hard-luck story about being disrespected, dismissed, shouted at, shoved aside, abused in a hilarious variety of ways by an astonishing array of celebrities, though I mostly remember the jocks. The legendary basketball player who wouldn’t come to the door for his first appointment with his ghost, then appeared for the second buck naked. The hockey great with the personality of a hockey stick, who had so few thoughts about his time on this planet, so little interest in his own book, that he gave his ghost an epic case of writer’s block. The notorious linebacker who, days before his memoir was due to the publisher, informed his ghost that the co-writing credit would go to his psychotherapist.

Between gasping and laughing, I asked the table, “Why do they do it? Why do they treat ghostwriters so badly?” I was bombarded with theories.

Authors feel ashamed about needing someone to write their story, and that shame makes them behave in shameful ways.

Authors think they could write the book themselves, if only they had time, so they resent having to pay you to do it.

Authors spend their lives safeguarding their secrets, and now you come along with your little notebook and pesky questions and suddenly they have to rip back the curtain? Boo.

But if all authors treat all ghosts badly, I wondered, and if it’s not your book in the first place, why not cash the check and move on? Why does it hurt so much? I don’t recall anyone having a good answer for that.

“Please,” I said to Andre, “don’t give me a story to tell at future Super Bowls.” He grinned and said he’d do his best. He did better than that. In two years of working together, we never exchanged a harsh word, not even when he felt my first draft needed work.

Maybe the Germans have a term for it, the particular facial expression of someone reading something about his life that’s even the tiniest bit wrong. Schaudergesicht ? I saw that look on Andre’s face, and it made me want to lie down on the floor. But, unlike me, he didn’t overreact. He knew that putting a first serve into the net is no big deal. He made countless fixes, and I made fixes to his fixes, and together we made ten thousand more, and in time we arrived at a draft that satisfied us both. The collaboration was so close, so synchronous, you’d have to call the eventual voice of the memoir a hybrid—though it’s all Andre. That’s the mystic paradox of ghostwriting: you’re inherent and nowhere; vital and invisible. To borrow an image from William Gass, you’re the air in someone else’s trumpet.

“ Open ,” by Andre Agassi, was published on November 9, 2009. Andre was pleased, reviewers were complimentary, and I soon had offers to ghost other people’s memoirs. Before deciding what to do next, I needed to get away, clear my head. I went to the Green Mountains. For two days, I drove around, stopped at wayside meadows, sat under trees and watched the clouds—until one late afternoon I began feeling unwell. I bought some cold medicine, pulled into the first bed-and-breakfast I saw, and climbed into bed. Hand-sewn quilt under my chin, I switched on the TV. There was Andre, on a late-night talk show.

The host was praising “ Open ,” and Agassi was being his typical charming, humble self. Now the host was praising the writing. Agassi continued to be humble. Thank you, thank you. But I dared to hope he might mention . . . me? An indefensible, illogical hope: Andre had asked me to put my name on the cover, and I’d declined. Nevertheless, right before zonking out, I started muttering at the TV, “Say my name.” I got a bit louder. “Say my name!” I got pretty rowdy. “Say my fucking name!”

Seven hours later, I stumbled downstairs to the breakfast room and caught a weird vibe. Guests stared. Several peered over my shoulder to see who was with me. What the? I sat alone, eating some pancakes, until I got it. The bed-and-breakfast had to be three hundred years old, with walls made of pre-Revolutionary cardboard—clearly every guest had heard me. Say my name!

I took it as a lesson. NyQuil was to blame, but also creeping narcissism. The gods were admonishing me: You can’t be Mister Rogers while ghosting the book and John McEnroe when it’s done. I drove away from Vermont with newfound clarity. I’m not cut out for this ghostwriting thing. I needed to get back to my first love, journalism, and to writing my own books.

During the next year or so, I freelanced for magazines while making notes for a novel. Then once more to the wilderness. I rented a tiny cabin in the far corner of nowhere and, for a full winter, rarely left. No TV, no radio, no Wi-Fi. For entertainment, I listened to the silver foxes screaming at night in a nearby forest, and I read dozens of books. But mostly I sat before the woodstove and tried to inhabit the minds of my characters. The novel was historical fiction, based on the decades-long crime spree of America’s most prolific bank robber, but also based on my disgust with the bankers who had recently devastated the global financial system. In real life, my bank-robbing protagonist wrote a memoir, with a ghostwriter, which was full of lies or delusions. I thought it might be fascinating to override that memoir with solid research, overwrite the ghostwriter, and become, in effect, the ghostwriter of the ghostwriter of a ghost.

I gave everything I had to that novel , but when it was published, in 2012, it got mauled by an influential critic. The review was then instantly tweeted by countless humanitarians, often with sidesplitting commentary like “Ouch.” I was on book tour at the time and read the review in a pitch-dark hotel room knowing full well what it meant: the book was stillborn. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stand. Part of me wanted to never leave that room. Part of me never did.

I barely slept or ate for months. My savings ran down. Occasionally, I’d take on a freelance assignment, profile an athlete for a magazine, but mostly I was in hibernation. Then one day the phone rang. A soft voice, vaguely familiar. Andre, asking if I was up for working with someone on a memoir.

Phil Knight.

Andre sighed. Founder of Nike?

A business book didn’t seem like my thing. But I needed to do something, and writing my own stuff was out. I went to the initial meeting thinking, It’s only an hour of my life. It wound up being three years.

Luckily, Phil had no interest in doing the typical C.E.O. auto-hagiography. He’d sought writing advice from Tobias Wolff , he was pals with a Pulitzer-winning novelist. He wanted to write a literary memoir, unfolding his mistakes, his anxieties—his quest. He viewed entrepreneurship, and sports, as a spiritual search. (He’d read deeply in Taoism and Zen.) Since I, too, was in search of meaning, I thought his book might be just the thing I needed.

It was. It was also, in every sense of that overused phrase, a labor of love. (I married the book’s editor.) When “ Shoe Dog ” was published, in April, 2016, I reflected on the dire warnings I’d heard at Super Bowl XLII and thought, What were they talking about? I felt like a guy, warned off by a bunch of wizened gamblers, who hits the jackpot twice with the first two nickels he sticks into a slot machine. Then again, I figured, better quit while I’m ahead.

Back to magazine writing. I also dared to start another novel. More personal, more difficult than the last, it absorbed me totally and I was tunnelling toward a draft while also starting a family. There was no time for anything else, no desire. And yet some days I’d hear that siren call. An actor, an activist, a billionaire, a soldier, a politician, another billionaire, a lunatic would phone, seeking help with a memoir.

Twice I said yes. Not for the money. I’ve never taken a ghosting gig for the money. But twice I felt that I had no choice, that the story was too cool, the author just too compelling, and twice the author freaked out at my first draft. Twice I explained that first drafts are always flawed, that error is the mother of truth, but it wasn’t just the errors. It was the confessions, the revelations, the cold-blooded honesty that memoir requires. Everyone says they want to get raw until they see how raw feels.

Twice the author killed the book. Twice I sat before a stack of pages into which I’d poured my soul and years of my life, knowing they were good, and knowing that they were about to go into a drawer forever. Twice I said to my wife, Never again.

And then, in the summer of 2020, I got a text. The familiar query. Would you be interested in speaking with someone about ghosting a memoir? I shook my head no. I covered my eyes. I picked up the phone and heard myself blurting, Who?

Prince Harry.

I agreed to a Zoom. I was curious, of course. Who wouldn’t be? I wondered what the real story was. I wondered if we’d have any chemistry. We did, and there was, I think, a surprising reason. Princess Diana had died twenty-three years before our first conversation, and my mother, Dorothy Moehringer, had just died, and our griefs felt equally fresh.

Still, I hesitated. Harry wasn’t sure how much he wanted to say in his memoir, and that concerned me. I’d heard similar reservations, early on, from both authors who’d ultimately killed their memoirs. Also, I knew that whatever Harry said, whenever he said it, would set off a storm. I am not, by nature, a storm chaser. And there were logistical considerations. In the early stages of a global pandemic, it was impossible to predict when I’d be able to sit down with Harry in the same room. How do you write about someone you can’t meet?

Harry had no deadline, however, and that enticed me. Many authors are in a hot hurry, and some ghosts are happy to oblige. They churn and burn, producing three or four books a year. I go painfully slow; I don’t know any other way. Also, I just liked the dude. I called him dude right away; it made him chuckle. I found his story, as he outlined it in broad strokes, relatable and infuriating. The way he’d been treated, by both strangers and intimates, was grotesque. In retrospect, though, I think I selfishly welcomed the idea of being able to speak with someone, an expert, about that never-ending feeling of wishing you could call your mom.

Harry and I made steady progress in the course of 2020, largely because the world didn’t know what we were up to. We could revel in the privacy of our Zoom bubble. As Harry grew to trust me, he brought other people into the bubble, connecting me with his inner circle, a vital phase in every ghosting job. There is always someone who knows your author’s life better than he does, and your task is to find that person fast and interview his socks off.

As the pandemic waned, I was finally able to travel to Montecito. I went once with my wife and children. (Harry won the heart of my daughter, Gracie, with his vast “Moana” scholarship; his favorite scene, he told her, is when Heihei, the silly chicken, finds himself lost at sea.) I also went twice by myself. Harry put me up in his guesthouse, where Meghan and Archie would visit me on their afternoon walks. Meghan, knowing I was missing my family, was forever bringing trays of food and sweets.

Little by little, Harry and I amassed hundreds of thousands of words. When we weren’t Zooming or phoning, we were texting around the clock. In due time, no subject was off the table. I felt honored by his candor, and I could tell that he felt astonished by it. And energized. While I always emphasized storytelling and scenes, Harry couldn’t escape the wish that “Spare” might be a rebuttal to every lie ever published about him. As Borges dreamed of endless libraries, Harry dreams of endless retractions, which meant no end of revelations. He knew, of course, that some people would be aghast at first. “Why on earth would Harry talk about that?” But he had faith that they would soon see: because someone else already talked about it, and got it wrong.

Person speaks the oath on the witness stand.

He was joyful at this prospect; everything in our bubble was good. Then someone leaked news of the book.

Whoever it was, their callousness toward Harry extended to me. I had a clause in my contract giving me the right to remain unidentified, a clause I always insist on, but the leaker blew that up by divulging my name to the press. Along with pretty much anyone who has had anything to do with Harry, I woke one morning to find myself squinting into a gigantic searchlight. Every hour, another piece would drop, each one wrong. My fee was wrong, my bio was wrong, even my name.

One royal expert cautioned that, because of my involvement in the book, Harry’s father should be “looking for a pile of coats to hide under.” When I mentioned this to Harry, he stared. “Why?”

“Because I have daddy issues.” We laughed and got back to discussing our mothers.

The genesis of my relationship with Harry was constantly misreported. Harry and I were introduced by George Clooney, the British newspapers proclaimed, even though I’ve never met George Clooney. Yes, he was directing a film based on my memoir, but I’ve never been in the man’s presence, never communicated with him in any way. I wanted to correct the record, write an op-ed or something, tweet some facts . But no. I reminded myself: ghosts don’t speak. One day, though, I did share my frustration with Harry. I bemoaned that these fictions about me were spreading and hardening into orthodoxy. He tilted his head: Welcome to my world, dude. By now, Harry was calling me dude.

A week before its pub date, “ Spare ” was leaked. A Madrid bookshop reportedly put embargoed copies of the Spanish version on its shelves, “by accident,” and reporters descended. In no time, Fleet Street had assembled crews of translators to reverse-engineer the book from Spanish to English, and with so many translators working on tight deadline the results read like bad Borat. One example among many was the passage about Harry losing his virginity. Per the British press, Harry recounts, “I mounted her quickly . . .” But of course he doesn’t. I can assert with one-hundred-per-cent confidence that no one gets “mounted,” quickly or otherwise, in “Spare.”

I didn’t have time to be horrified. When the book was officially released, the bad translations didn’t stop. They multiplied. The British press now converted the book into their native tongue, that jabberwocky of bonkers hot takes and classist snark. Facts were wrenched out of context, complex emotions were reduced to cartoonish idiocy, innocent passages were hyped into outrages—and there were so many falsehoods. One British newspaper chased down Harry’s flight instructor. Headline: “Prince Harry’s army instructor says story in Spare book is ‘complete fantasy.’ ” Hours later, the instructor posted a lengthy comment beneath the article, swearing that those words, “complete fantasy,” never came out of his mouth. Indeed, they were nowhere in the piece, only in the bogus headline, which had gone viral. The newspaper had made it up, the instructor said, stressing that Harry was one of his finest students.

The only other time I’d witnessed this sort of frenzied mob was with LeBron James, whom I’d interviewed before and after his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat. I couldn’t fathom the toxic cloud of hatred that trailed him. Fans, particularly Cavs loyalists, didn’t just decry James. They wished him dead. They burned his jersey, threw rocks at his image. And the media egged them on. In those first days of “Spare,” I found myself wondering what the ecstatic contempt for Prince Harry and King James had in common. Racism, surely. Also, each man had committed the sin of publicly spurning his homeland. But the biggest factor, I came to believe, was money. In times of great economic distress, many people are triggered by someone who has so much doing anything to try to improve his lot.

Within days, the amorphous campaign against “Spare” seemed to narrow to a single point of attack: that Harry’s memoir, rigorously fact-checked, was rife with errors. I can’t think of anything that rankles quite like being called sloppy by people who routinely trample facts in pursuit of their royal prey, and this now happened every few minutes to Harry and, by extension, to me. In one section of the book, for instance, Harry reveals that he used to live for the yearly sales at TK Maxx, the discount clothing chain. Not so fast, said the monarchists at TK Maxx corporate, who rushed out a statement declaring that TK Maxx never has sales, just great savings all the time! Oh, snap! Gotcha, Prince George Santos! Except that people around the world immediately posted screenshots of TK Maxx touting sales on its official Twitter account. (Surely TK Maxx’s effort to discredit Harry’s memoir was unrelated to the company’s long-standing partnership with Prince Charles and his charitable trust.)

Ghostwriters don’t speak, I reminded myself over and over. But I had to do something. So I ventured one small gesture. I retweeted a few quotes from Mary Karr about inadvertent error in memories and memoir, plus seemingly innocuous quotes from “Spare” about the way Harry’s memory works. (He can’t recall much from the years right after his mother died, and for the most part remembers places better than people—possibly because places didn’t let him down the way people did.) Smooth move, ghostwriter. My tweets were seized upon, deliberately misinterpreted by trolls, and turned into headlines by real news outlets. Harry’s ghostwriter admits the book is all lies.

One of Harry’s friends gave a book party. My wife and I attended.

We were feeling fragile as we arrived, and it had nothing to do with Twitter. Days earlier, we’d been stalked, followed in our car as we drove our son to preschool. When I lifted him out of his seat, a paparazzo leaped from his car and stood in the middle of the road, taking aim with his enormous lens and scaring the hell out of everyone at dropoff. Then, not one hour later, as I sat at my desk, trying to calm myself, I looked up to see a woman’s face at my window. As if in a dream, I walked to the window and asked, “Who are you?” Through the glass, she whispered, “I’m from the Mail on Sunday .”

I lowered the shade, phoned an old friend—the same friend whose columns I used to ghostwrite in Colorado. He listened but didn’t get it. How could he get it? So I called the only friend who might.

It was like telling Taylor Swift about a bad breakup. It was like singing “Hallelujah” to Leonard Cohen. Harry was all heart. He asked if my family was O.K., asked for physical descriptions of the people harassing us, promised to make some calls, see if anything could be done. We both knew nothing could be done, but still. I felt gratitude, and some regret. I’d worked hard to understand the ordeals of Harry Windsor, and now I saw that I understood nothing. Empathy is thin gruel compared with the marrow of experience. One morning of what Harry had endured since birth made me desperate to take another crack at the pages in “Spare” that talk about the media.

Too late. The book was out, the party in full swing. As we walked into the house, I looked around, nervous, unsure of what state we’d find the author in. Was he, too, feeling fragile? Was he as keen as I was to organize a global boycott of TK Maxx?

He appeared, marching toward us, looking flushed. Uh-oh, I thought, before registering that it was a good flush. His smile was wide as he embraced us both. He was overjoyed by many things. The numbers, naturally. Guinness World Records had just certified his memoir as the fastest-selling nonfiction book in the history of the world. But, more than that, readers were reading , at last, the actual book, not Murdoched chunks laced with poison, and their online reviews were overwhelmingly effusive. Many said Harry’s candor about family dysfunction, about losing a parent, had given them solace.

The guests were summoned into the living room. There were several lovely toasts to Harry, then the Prince stepped forward. I’d never seen him so self-possessed and expansive. He thanked his publishing team, his editor, me. He mentioned my advice, to “trust the book,” and said he was glad that he did, because it felt incredible to have the truth out there, to feel—his voice caught—“free.” There were tears in his eyes. Mine, too.

And yet once a ghost, always a ghost. I couldn’t help obsessing about that word “free.” If he’d used that in one of our Zoom sessions, I’d have pushed back. Harry first felt liberated when he fell in love with Meghan, and again when they fled Britain, and what he felt now, for the first time in his life, was heard. That imperious Windsor motto, “Never complain, never explain,” is really just a prettified omertà , which my wife suggests might have prolonged Harry’s grief. His family actively discourages talking, a stoicism for which they’re widely lauded, but if you don’t speak your emotions you serve them, and if you don’t tell your story you lose it—or, what might be worse, you get lost inside it. Telling is how we cement details, preserve continuity, stay sane. We say ourselves into being every day, or else. Heard, Harry, heard—I could hear myself making the case to him late at night, and I could see Harry’s nose wrinkle as he argued for his word, and I reproached myself once more: Not your effing book.

But, after we hugged Harry goodbye, after we thanked Meghan for toys she’d sent our children, I had a second thought about silence. Ghosts don’t speak—says who? Maybe they can. Maybe sometimes they should.

Several weeks later, I was having breakfast with my family. The children were eating and my wife and I were talking about ghostwriting. Someone had just called, seeking help with their memoir. Intriguing person, but the answer was going to be no. I wanted to resume work on my novel. Our five-year-old daughter looked up from her cinnamon toast and asked, “What is ghostwriting?”

My wife and I gazed at each other as if she’d asked, What is God?

“Well,” I said, drawing a blank. “O.K., you know how you love art?”

She nodded. She loves few things more. An artist is what she hopes to be.

“Imagine if one of your classmates wanted to say something, express something, but they couldn’t draw. Imagine if they asked you to draw a picture for them.”

“I would do it,” she said.

“That’s ghostwriting.”

It occurred to me that this might be the closest I’d ever come to a workable definition. It certainly landed with our daughter. You could see it in her eyes. She got off her chair and leaned against me. “Daddy, I will be your ghostwriter.”

My wife laughed. I laughed. “Thank you, sweetheart,” I said.

But that wasn’t what I wanted to say. What I wanted to say was “No, Gracie. Nope. Keep doing your own pictures.” ♦

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Guest Essay

A Crown, an Orb and a 12th-Century Spoon

A large and ornate gold crown set with precious stones. It has a velvet cap and is trimmed with ermine.

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By Hannah Rose Woods

Dr. Woods is a cultural historian and the author of “Rule, Nostalgia: A Backwards History of Britain.”

On Saturday morning, Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor will leave Buckingham Palace in a carriage drawn by six horses, take a slightly circuitous route through central London and arrive at Westminster Abbey, a little before 11 a.m., for a ceremony mostly unchanged over the course of a millennium.

Once inside he will sit on the Coronation Chair, which is more than 700 years old and will temporarily house a block of Scottish sandstone known as the Stone of Destiny . He will put on, at some point, a 200-year-old cloak that is woven from gold cloth , embroidered with roses, thistles and shamrocks and lined with red silk. He will be presented to the congregation, which will shout “God save King Charles!”

He will be anointed with holy oil from a 12th-century spoon and handed an orb , which symbolizes authority derived from God, and a scepter , which represents power. The archbishop of Canterbury will place St. Edward’s Crown , which is more than 350 years old, made of solid gold and set with ruby, amethyst, sapphire, garnet, topaz and tourmaline, on his head.

If this blend of ancient religious and political symbolism is impenetrable to the average viewer, that is kind of the point: When it comes to British coronations, anachronism is a feature, not a bug. Britain’s monarchy and the country’s past are inextricably linked, and a coronation is an opportunity for the institution to nod at history and hope that history nods back. A successful coronation telegraphs to the world — and reflects back to as many Britons as possible — a version of who we’d like to think we are. The problem is that this coronation is arriving at a time when it’s not exactly clear what that is.

Britain in 2023 is a country on the edge of Europe that is grappling with its imperial past and confronting an uncertain future. Since the Brexit campaign in 2016, invoking the “greatness” of Britain’s history — by name-dropping the Battle of Agincourt or Winston Churchill , for example — has become rote for politicians on the right who want to articulate a vision of Britain’s future outside of Europe. And, perhaps precisely because Britain’s future outside of Europe seems to rest so much on its past, there is an increasingly hard and humorless edge to conversations about British history: a patriotism that will admit no criticism. Attempts to re-examine Britain’s imperial history have been dismissed as “ trying to do Britain down ,” promoting “ a woke agenda ” or “ cringing embarrassment about our history.”

At the same time, Britain’s economy is one of the slowest growing in the Group of 7 nations. There is a “cost-of-living crisis” — high interest rates, inflation and energy prices. Record numbers of families are using food banks and one in five Britons lives in poverty.

This is the complex, polarized moment that Saturday’s ceremony must try to meet. Camilla, the queen consort, will not wear in her crown the Koh-i-Noor diamond , which was taken from India during British rule and is a symbol to many of colonial theft; the holy oil will be vegan (no civet, musk or ambergris); and the ceremony itself will be shorter and smaller , with a reduced guest list — which is supposed to signal thrift and environmental awareness.

But this slimmed-down coronation is still set to cost British taxpayer millions; though the exact figure will not be made public until after the event, it is reported to be around $125 million. For many, that the coronation is happening at all is a sign of a country in denial and clinging to past grandeur. For others, any concession to the present is too much to bear.

“It is particularly disturbing that the Earl of Derby has not been asked to provide falcons, as his family have done since the 16th century,” Petronella Wyatt, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, wrote with apparent seriousness . “These little things deprive people of their purpose in life.”

It’s a delicate balancing act: Jettison the right amount, and rise to the occasion; cut too deeply, and lose whatever power the ceremony has. But coronations, like monarchies, have had to evolve for a very long time indeed.

By the 18th century, Britain was a constitutional monarchy in which the balance of power had shifted from the Crown to Parliament. In the turmoil of the first Industrial Revolution, and as European monarchies — including the opulent French court at Versailles — were overthrown in waves of political revolution, ceremonies like coronations became an integral part of the national self-image of a country that could incorporate change without rupture, one which had opted for evolution over revolution.

George IV’s coronation in 1821, after Britain’s victory in the Napoleonic wars, was one of the most lavish in British history — an attempt, in part, to outshine Napoleon and celebrate British supremacy, but also symptomatic of the scandalous overspending that made him deeply unpopular. In 1831 his successor, William IV, perhaps sensing the mood, wanted to skip a coronation entirely. He eventually caved to pressure from advisers and agreed to a simpler ceremony with no banquet and a smaller procession. It was still too much for some .

The coronation of William’s niece Victoria in 1838, in the wake of a trans-Atlantic financial crisis, was restrained to the point of being disparagingly nicknamed the “penny crowning.” But it went big in one notable way: Around 400,000 Britons are estimated to have turned out to watch Victoria’s procession; there was also a huge fair in Hyde Park and a fireworks display.

A ceremony that had always been the preserve of nobility started to become more public. By the 20th century, the guest list would make room for members of the middle and, later, working classes. For Edward VII’s coronation, in 1902, workers were given a public holiday to celebrate the event — they still are, this year on May 8.

Elizabeth II’s coronation, in 1953, after years of postwar rationing and austerity and with Britain’s empire already in decline, tried to project a country that was still a global power by inviting representatives of British colonies and dominions. But by the Platinum Jubilee last summer, she was feted not as the head of a global power, but as a symbol of a nostalgic, postwar Britishness that was invoked with a fleet of vintage Mini Coopers and an afternoon tea spread made entirely of felt. It was a lighthearted gloss that, for some, only highlighted the gap between the imperial fiction and the lived reality of modern Britain.

If Saturday’s coronation succeeds, for the 9 percent of Britons who, according to a YouGov poll , care about it “a great deal,” it will be another neat stitch of the thread that ties our present to our past. For the 64 percent who, according to the same survey, don’t care very much or at all, May 8 is at best a very expensive day off.

For Charles III, Saturday is the first big test of whether he can helm a modern, pared-down monarchy that is relevant — or at least not objectionable — to the majority of Britons. St. Edward’s Crown weighs almost five pounds . That’s a lot of weight on one man’s shoulders.

Hannah Rose Woods is a cultural historian and the author of “Rule, Nostalgia: A Backwards History of Britain.”

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Can ChatGPT Write a Good College-Admissions Essay?

an essay on what is reading

In January, I raised my hourly rate to $300 before wondering if I could get away with charging anything at all.

I teach high-schoolers how to write college essays, helping students claw their way out of hackneyed bildungsroman and into deftly tuned narratives . The clients (and their parents) can be a lot to handle, but my results ensure that I have a new cluster of rising seniors every summer. And the service I provide is in perpetually high demand among the moneyed and desperate private-school crowd.

Recently, though, the rise of ChatGPT had me questioning how much longer this comfortable arrangement could last. I started to fear obsolescence when I heard about uncannily passable AI-generated  letters of recommendation and wedding toasts — forms of writing not a million miles away from my specialty.  So, in an attempt to get to know my new enemy —  and gauge whether I was still employable —  I paid $20 for access to the “more creative” GPT4.

Nervously, I prompted ChatGPT with a series of bullet points and fed it what anyone who has applied to college in the past 15 years knows is the formula for the Common Application personal essay: “Write 600 words including a catchy hook to draw the reader in, a conflict, and a thoughtful self-reflection.”

ChatGPT didn’t even take a beat to process my outline; it spat out an essay as fast as I could read it. Its first draft (about a freak accident washing dishes leading to a lesson in the power of fear) was unsettlingly well-composed, but stiff in a way that kept it from resonating emotionally (often a problem with student-generated drafts, too). ChatGPT wrote, “ I was horrified, not just at the sight of my own blood but also at the thought of needing stitches. In that moment, I was transported back to the time when I was a child and I got my first stitches. ” Not bad, but not exactly transcendent, either.

The next big test: Could this thing incorporate feedback? I replied that the essay was “a little formal, can you make it more conversational?” Done. ChatGPT added a few “ you see ”s and began several sentences with “ So .” The essay was suddenly more casual: “ The experience taught me that fear, no matter how powerful it may seem, can be overcome with perseverance and determination ” became “ But eventually, I realized that this fear was holding me back and preventing me from enjoying something that brought me so much joy. ”

With these small tweaks, ChatGPT’s effort was already significantly better than most first drafts I come across. I tried to throw it off with something random, adding, “My favorite comedian is Jon Stewart. Can you incorporate that into the essay?” ChatGPT wrote three new sentences that explained how Stewart “helped me see the lighter side of things and lifted my spirits.”

I told it to be funny. It tried. I corrected it, “No, that’s too corny, make it more sarcastic.” It revised, “ And let’s face it, what’s a little scar compared to the joy of a rack of clean dishes? ” Then I wrote, “Add in my high-achieving older brother who I always compare myself to a classic Common App essay character as a foil.” I specified that the brother breaks his collarbone around the same time the main character has to get stitches. ChatGPT came up with this: “ And here I was, feeling guilty for even complaining about my measly scratch when his pain was so much worse. It was like a twisted game of ‘whose injury is more severe?’ ” I watched ChatGPT revise (in seconds) the amount of material it typically takes students (with my help) hours to get through.  Intrusive thought: Even if I lower my rates, there won’t be any demand.

And then I slowed down, stopped panicking, and really read the essay.

I began noticing all the cracks in it. For one thing, ChatGPT was heavy on banal reflections (“ Looking back on my experience… ”) and empty-sounding conclusions (“ I am grateful for the lessons it taught me ”) that I would never let slide. I always advise students to get into specifics about how they’ve changed as people, but ChatGPT relied on anodyne generalities. Most importantly, it couldn’t go beyond a generic narrative into the realm of the highly specific. (A good student essay might have, say, detailed how Stewart’s Mark Twain Prize acceptance speech helped them overcome a fear of public speaking.)

AI is also just lazy. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional transitional phrase, but using “ Slowly but surely, ” “ Over time, ” “ Looking back on my experience, ” and “ In conclusion ” to lead off consecutive paragraphs is only okay if it’s your first time writing an essay. Leading off a conclusion with “ In conclusion ” means you’re either in sixth grade or satisfied with getting a C.

While the essay technically met every criterion I set (hook, conflict, self-reflection), it also failed the main test I pose to students: Have you ever read a version of this story? The answer here was most definitely “yes.” It’s uncanny how well ChatGPT mimicked the contrived essay that I’m paid to steer kids away from — the one you’d be shown as an example of what not to do in a college-essay seminar. It reads like a satire of one of those “the ability was inside me all along” or “all I needed to do was believe in myself/be true to myself/listen to my inner voice” narratives rife with clichés and half-baked epiphanies. ChatGPT’s basic competence led me to overlook the middling quality of its execution. It’s the same disbelief-to-disillusionment arc ChatGPT has inspired elsewhere — take the viral AI travel itinerary that seemed perfect until people pointed out some pretty glaring (and possibly dangerous) errors.

Credit where it’s due. I expend a lot of effort translating overwritten, clunky, and generally unclear student prose. ChatGPT excels in writing cleanly — if flatly. It’s great at producing simple, informational text from a set of data. Creating a rule book for Airbnb guests, writing a “help wanted” ad, drafting an email with details for a surprise party: These are perfect cases for ChatGPT right now. From this mess, ChatGPT would translate the raw information into a block of concise text that wouldn’t need style, voice, or flair to be successful. If you want to share facts in a digestible and clear way, ChatGPT is your guy.

But ChatGPT failed hardest at the most important part of the college essay: self-reflection. Literary agent Jamie Carr of the Book Group describes great storytelling as something that makes “connections between things and ideas that are totally nonsensical — which is something only humans can do.” Can ChatGPT bring together disparate parts of your life and use a summer job to illuminate a fraught friendship? Can it link a favorite song to an identity crisis? So far, nope. Crucially, ChatGPT can’t do one major thing that all my clients can: have a random thought. “I’m not sure why I’m telling you this” is something I love to hear from students, because it means I’m about to go on a wild ride that only the teenage brain can offer. It’s frequently in these tangents about collecting cologne or not paying it forward at the Starbucks drive-thru that we discover the key to the essay. I often describe my main task as helping students turn over stones they didn’t know existed, or stones they assumed were off-limits. ChatGPT can’t tap into the unpredictable because it can only turn over the precise stones you tell it to — and if you’re issuing these orders, chances are you already know what’s under the stone.

In the South Park episode “Deep Learning,” Clyde and Stan use AI to compose thoughtful, emotionally mature text messages to their girlfriends. When Bebe asks if she should cut her hair, Clyde (via ChatGPT) replies, “You would look great with any length of hair. Trying a new look could be fun.” Only a fourth-grader (no offense, Bebe) would buy that the message is authentic. When Stan’s girlfriend Wendy wants to repair their relationship, Stan responds, “We can work things out if you’re willing. I still believe we can make this work. Let’s not give up on each other.” ChatGPT is credited as a writer in this episode, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the messages were punched up to reach this level of dullness. But the style speaks to something I noticed when I asked ChatGPT to write a short story: It makes everything sound like an unfunny parody. A parody of an attentive boyfriend. A parody of a short story. A parody of a college essay.

AI may supplant me one day, but for now, ChatGPT isn’t an admissions-essay quick fix. It’s not even a moderate threat to the service I offer. And while there are plenty of problems with a system in which the ultra-elite pay someone like me to help package insight into a few hundred words, ChatGPT doesn’t solve any of them. Perhaps one day, we’ll figure out a fairer way forward. For now, I’m quite relieved to report that my expertise is still definitely worth something — maybe even more than $300 an hour.

  • artificial intelligence
  • college admissions

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Young people hanging out in a Baghdad park.

Baghdad’s young people battle to build happier future – picture essay

For a generation of young Iraqis who have grown up knowing only war, life is not easy. Across Baghdad, young adults and teenagers fight to realise their ambitions but many face challenges

Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, is once again vibrant – its markets and streets colourful and busy, its coffee shops filled with crowds of young people and the lingering scent of fresh cardamom in the air.

The Station is a co-working space popular with Baghdad’s young adults.

The Station is a co-working space popular with Baghdad’s young adults.

Ghada Ahmed, 30, who works at the Station, a co-working space popular with Baghdad’s generation Z.

Ghada Ahmed, 30, who runs workshops at the Station. Right: Young women working on their laptops.

Young people chat at Grinders coffee shop in central Baghdad.

Young people chat at Grinders coffee shop in central Baghdad..

It’s been 20 years since the start of the US-led invasion which toppled the then president Saddam Hussein – launched under the false premise of Iraq owning weapons of mass destruction. What followed were years of violence, including a sectarian civil war, frequent terrorist attacks by al-Qaida and, eventually, the emergence of Islamic State. About 300,000 civilians died in the conflict over the past 20 years and much of Iraq was left devastated.

Young people sit by the Tigris River.

Young people sit by the Tigris River.

Many murals went up around Baghdad at the start of protests beginning in 2019.

Many street murals went up around Baghdad at the start of protests beginning in 2019.

Baghdad’s face is constantly changing: concrete blast walls coming down, new co-working spaces popping up, the banks of the Tigris River being redeveloped and a building boom under way. Young people have transformed grey walls into colourful murals, or empty buildings into restaurants and it is on this generation of people in their late teens and early 20s that so many hopes are being pinned.

Students at Baghdad University leave classes in April 2023.

Students at Baghdad University leave classes in April 2023.

In the capital, Baghdad, they are students and ballet instructors, artists and amputees who lost limbs during the heavy years of conflict, entrepreneurs and business owners. Many were born into war, and are now torn between two choices: “My generation either wants to leave Iraq and start over elsewhere, or otherwise stay here and invest, rebuild and move our country forward,” says Anwar Ahmed, a 23-year-old environmentalist. “Personally, I believe Baghdad needs me – and even when it’s not always easy, I think I need it too.”

Of course, she adds, metropolitan Baghdad with its 8 million residents does not necessarily always speak for the rest of the country – but “here’s where change starts”.

Atef al-Jaffal, 23, a young artist and graphic designer, at his exhibition in Baghdad.

Atef al-Jaffal, 23, a young artist and graphic designer, at his exhibition in Baghdad. Jaffal grew up in Syria, but returned to his native Iraq with his family when Syria’s civil war started. At first, the return was difficult. ‘I feel more optimistic now,’ he says. The 2019 protests and the subsequent resignation of the prime minister gave him hope. ‘We planted the seeds for change,’ he says.

Over half of Iraq’s population of 42 million are under the age of 25 – according to the World Bank – one of the world’s youngest populations. Many of the young people are full of ambition and drive, but there’s hopelessness and even despair in equal measure. Iraq’s unemployment rate sits at about 14%; government corruption is rampant, violence against women – including femicides – is common, and the sectarian political system has not been overhauled since the US invasion. Countrywide demonstrations erupted in 2019 exactly for those reasons – with young people at the forefront – but a brutal government crackdown resulted in more than 500 people being killed and thousands more injured.

Climate activist Anwar Ahmed, 23.

Anwar Ahmed, 23.

Yet Baghdad’s younger generation might be more determined than ever. “We’re the ones defining Baghdad’s – and Iraq’s – future, there’s no denying it,” Ahmed, wearing a Black Sabbath T-shirt, says, sitting outside a city community centre where she has been taking percussion lessons in her free time. She does a bit of everything, she says: she is an artist, a musician, but most of all a climate activist working full-time for a local aid group that’s aiming to preserve the Tigris River, Iraq’s main water source. “Our generation is very conscious when it comes to climate change as we live in one of the world’s worst affected countries. Frequent droughts, water shortages and dust storms – that’s sadly our future,” she adds.

Ahmed’s family has always supported her ambitions, but she knows that’s not necessarily a given – especially for young women. “Many families – and to an extent society at large – hold conservative norms and this can be especially difficult for young women,” says Lizan Selam, 26, and Baghdad’s first licenced ballet instructor. Her family always had her back, but she says she faced years of social media harassment and attacks, with strangers on the internet deeming her business “dirty and forbidden”.

Today, she teaches 45 students in Baghdad, but admits that things aren’t easy. “I’m confused,” she says. “Part of me wants to stay in Baghdad and invest – another part wants to go. I don’t see myself being part of this community unless it changes, but at the same time, maybe I need to be here do to my part and help bring that change.”

Lizan Selam, 26, Iraq’s first licensed ballet teacher. Selam has her own ballet school, teaching up to 45 students.

Lizan Selam, 26, Iraq’s first licensed ballet teacher. Selam has her own ballet school, teaching up to 45 students.

Lizan Selam, 26, Iraq’s first licenced ballet teacher.

For Mustafa Rahman, also 26, change came in an unexpected – and unwanted – way. He was barely 10 years old when he and his mother ventured outside to the local bazaar in his home town, Abu Ghraib, half an hour’s drive from the capital. A suicide bomber caused an explosion that killed scores of people, Rahman remembers. It spared his mother, but tore off his leg. Years of agony and depression followed and it wasn’t until last year when he joined a football club for amputees that he was able to start moving forward. He’s training three times a week now, hoping to eventually make it into Iraq’s national team.

Baghdad’s football team for amputees. Founded by Mohammed al-Najar, 37, the idea was born in the UK where Najar studied, joining an amputee football team in Portsmouth and later exporting the idea to Iraq.

Baghdad’s football team for amputees. Founded by Mohammed al-Najar, 37, the idea was born in the UK where Najar studied, joining an amputee football team in Portsmouth and later exporting the idea to Iraq.

Mustafa Abdul Rahman, 26, lost his leg in an explosion in his home town of Abu Ghraib. He now lives in Baghdad and practises football three times a week.

Mustafa Abdul Rahman, 26, lost his leg in an explosion in his home town of Abu Ghraib. He now lives in Baghdad and practises football three times a week.

“There’s one thing I realised,” he said, standing on the football pitch, taking a break during a training session under a scorchingly hot sun. “The scars of war are everywhere, we can’t ignore that. But we have to live with it and make the best out of it. We have to move forward.”

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