Object Essays

Object Lessons is a series of concise, affordable, beautifully designed books and of smart, short essays based around singular objects and the lessons they hold. Books are published and distributed worldwide by Bloomsbury, and essays are published at The Atlantic.

You can also keep up with Object Lessons on Twitter and on Facebook.

At around 25,000 words, each book starts from a specific prompt: an anthropological query, archeological discovery, historical event, literary passage, personal narrative, philosophical speculation, technological innovation—and from that starting point develops an investigation or inquiry around the object of the title, gleaning a singular lesson or multiple lessons along the way. Essays, which typically range from 1,500 to 2,000 words, are drawn from authors in industry, academia, design, and beyond, written for a broad and general readership.

In this way Object Lessons harnesses recent movements in material culture studies and critical theory—while also forming a collection of volumes that will be of perennial interest, able to adapt and diversify over time and reflect fresh scholarly trends as new objects and lessons appear. The emphasis throughout is lucid writing, imagination, and brevity.

Books & Essays

For a complete and up-to-date list of all books and essays, please visit the Object Lessons series site at objectsobjectsobjects.com. A selection of Object Lessons cover designs appears below (click for full cover view).

Submit a Proposal

Object Lessons essays are roughly 2,000 words, published at The Atlantic online. Object Lessons books are roughly 25,000 words, published in print and electronic formats and internationally distributed by Bloomsbury. You don’t have to write both, but composing an essay is a great way to try on a book idea, and book authors are encouraged to write an essay along the way. Commissions and advances are available for working writers and accomplished authors. Want to write one? Let us know by our online submission form.

Nuts and Bolts: Hiding a Gun

By Chuck Palahniuk

In: Objects

Sometimes called "plants and payoffs" in the language of screenwriters, Hiding a Gun is an essential skill to the writer's arsenal that university writing courses almost never touch upon. Learn to identify and use multiple forms, including the Big Question, the Physical Process, and the Clock.


By Chuck Palahniuk

In: Objects

In the best stories, key objects morph to serve several different functions, reappearing throughout while picking up additional resonance. Learn to use a limited number of objects to maximum effect.

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