Some essays stick out because of the topic, the story itself, which seems to draw you in even if the writing is not stellar - or worse, flat out bad. You finish reading it because you simply want or need to know what happens in the end. Others may be about such a mundane, boring topic, yet the writing brings it to life in a way that makes it riveting, and you are sad to have to put it down when you are done.
Then there are those that combine both. I loved this essay: How to Tell a True Story by Caedra Scott-Flaherty on The Rumpus. She writes about a difficult experience but I am not sure if it is the experience itself or the way she tells it that makes it so absorbing. Read it. You’ll be glad you did.