Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live
by Ray Robertson (Biblioasis, 2011)
Remind students that the word “essay” means an attempt or a trial. Students are likely quite familiar with various kinds of academic essays, but they may not be as knowledgeable about the personal essay as a literary form.
Personal essays are attempts to make sense of some aspect of human life, and they often have some of the following characteristics.
• An autobiographical component that, though based on the personal experience and perspective of the essayist, may be presented as a universal human experience.
• Novel or unusual ways of seeing and presenting everyday experiences, thoughts, emotions, and events to make them fresh and vivid.
• A conversational style that encourages readers to join the essayist in questioning aspects of his or her subject or theme.
• A flexible structure that may appear casual at first glance but that is often carefully crafted to suit the essayist’s purpose and intended audience.
• A wry sense of humour that may be evidenced by unexpected allusions, anecdotes, and examples; newly minted words; and in general a whimsical, light touch.
See the teaching resource for more lesson ideas.
Cross-curricular Suggestions: Psychology, Sociology, Health
Reading Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live could help students appreciate some of the factors that contribute to personal mental and emotional well-being and healthy human relationships. Robertson’s essays could also help them understand the kinds of behaviours and attitudes that contribute to their own well-being and the well-being of others as well as how important it is to develop sound self-management and decision-making skills and strategies for living well.