5 Books You Should Read If You Want To Write
As you already know from this year’s gift guide of personal development books, I read a lot this year. In addition to those books, I also read some fiction, business, and books about writing. It’s important as bloggers to be able to share a coherent story and not have things such as grammar, punctuation, and other errors detract from the messages that we are trying to share. (Thanks to the few of you who have no qualms about calling me out on an error as soon as you see it!)
As I have heard over and over again, in order to write, you need to read. The following are my top 5 books you should read if you want to write. If you have any other ones to add to the list, add them to the comments below. I still have about 3 shelves on my new bookcase that need to be filled up!
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1. On Writing by Stephen King
This is probably the best book that I read this year on writing. I already love Stephen King and reading his description of his personal writing process as well as suggestions for other aspiring writers was a great look inside someone who has made a career doing what they love. King is careful to focus mainly on his own journey and not offer blanket statements about writing which may not work for everyone. I really enjoyed the anecdotes and no-nonsense approach to what it takes to be a writer.
2. Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose
One of the most important pieces of advice that I have gathered from both these books and other conversations I’ve had is that in order to write, you need to read. It’s as simple as that. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Reading the writing of a wide variety of authors allows you to be exposed to different voices, different perspectives, and different ideas. When I was younger, I read nonstop and I’m grateful for the time I put in to each and every one of those books.
Prose breaks down her book, Reading Like A Writer, into chapters devoted to different literary devices such as paragraphs, narration, character, dialogue, etc. and offers different excerpts in order for you to read closely and pay attention to what the author is trying to do in his or her work. It’s more of a guidebook than a narration on personal experience, but equally important in order to focus on all of the different aspects of writing.
3. The Art of Spiritual Writing by Vinita Hampton Wright
I liked this book because it was a) short (161 pages) and b) spoke to the importance of authenticity in writing. As you know if you have been reading this blog for awhile, I am a big proponent of honesty, transparency, and authenticity. I think it is so important to share what is going on in your life because you never know who else may be going through the same things. It’s important for me to talk about things that are uncomfortable because it’s a way of connecting with others and how I make sure that I’m not lying to myself or anyone else.
Hampton Wright takes her decades of experience as both an editor and an author and lays out a writing manual that describes the best way to write from the heart and inspire other people. It contains both technical writing information as well as advice about what she terms “spiritual writing.” It’s a great book that aligns with my own philosophy on the subject as I think the best writing is that which speaks to the heart of another person.
4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
There are a number of other books by Anne Lamott that I’ve been told to read, but so far this is the only one I’ve made it through. It’s another great work that contains both suggestions and experiences similar to that of King in On Writing. What I like about this is that it’s even more no-nonsense than King’s book and also goes out of the way to dispel a lot of myths that people have concerning the writing and publishing process.
It’s not a book that sugar coats things, which is important in managing expectations. Many people operate under misconceptions that could ultimately harm them if they are seriously trying to make a living as a writer. Lamott is funny, but real, and it’s a quick and entertaining read.
5. Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
I was recommended this book at Blogfest this year and immediately bought it because—hello—books. This book not only appeals to writers, but also marketers and business owners. Sachs writes under the conception that those who tell the best stories will “rule the future.” What he means by that is that in a sea of advertisements, personal stories, social media, and other brand messages, it’s hard for a person or company to get their story out. Writing in a way that breaks through that wall will help your message and your brand gain traction.
Sachs relies on examples from mythology, psychology, the history of advertising, and even biology to push for a revolution of story telling. He offers advice on how to get your story out above the crowd and have others notice. Along with academia and personal anecdotes, it’s a great book to inspire you to do more with your writing. It’s also a great read for bloggers who are aiming at strengthening their own personal brand and breaking through the noise of millions of other existing blogs.
- What books have helped you in your writing?
- Do you have any to add to this list?