I heard recently on NPR (National Public Radio) that the average American read a grand total of six books in the year 2012.
This started me thinking. And counting. And eventually it became a challenge to see just how many books I could remember reading this past year, and since “praise is the culmination of joy” I thought I’d share with you my list of books which touch specifically on some different aspects of writing.
From books teaching craft and technique to inspirational biographies and memoirs, here’s a list of books that inspired me to keep writing in the year 2012.
Characters and Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card – Card has the heart of a true teacher and is able to combine with it years of writing experience. As a consummate professional, there are few tricks Card doesn’t know about character creation, from the standpoint of an actual creator/author. His explanations of how to guide your reader as they view the character you’ve created for them is unparalleled in my experience, and have been extraordinarily helpful in my own fiction. Go to his website and click on the Writing Lessons tab at the top for just a taste, by clicking here http://www.hatrack.com/
Rules for the Dance, by Mary Oliver – Starting from the sheer basics, accomplished poet Mary Oliver takes us through the world of metrical poetry. Explaining the concepts of metre, rhyme, breath, and much more so clearly even a beginning poet can understand them, she brings new appreciation to an ancient tradition.
Problogger, by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett – The site is legendary among bloggers, for good reason. The sheer wealth of information on this site is literally overwhelming. This book compacts and condenses a good bit of the advice to be found at the Problogger website, and has an excellent, practical guide to writing powerful blog content. Ideas, categories, and tips: it’s all here. View the blog, here http://www.problogger.net/
An Experiment in Criticism, by C.S. Lewis – Strong readers make for strong writers, and C.S. Lewis wrote a true classic on reading technique. Read it, and then allow this book to completely bend the way you view the way people read books, then wonder at the implications his experiment has for us as writers.
Will in the World, by Stephan Greenblatt – Few stories are as inspirational to me as a writer than that of Shakespeare’s life. With a pregnant wife, and an itchy foot, he makes his way to London and becomes the greatest author in the history of the English language. Greenblatt weaves an excellent account of Shakespeare as a man of the theatre, and presents him in conjunction with what must have been pivotal moments in his life and the world around him. A must read for any writer feeling down on their luck and looking for a reason to keep writing.
I. Asimov, by Isaac Asimov – As the most published author in America, who better to show us the way than a man who’s written over 400 books? A memoir of a great man and a brilliant writer who will always model for me the art of clarity in writing; I highly recommend his accounts of the early years of science fiction.
The Education of a Wandering Man, by Louis L’Amour – Mr. L’Amour shares with us his love of reading and, especially, his love of learning. Both are infectious and I guarantee you’ll look up from this memoir wanting to do nothing but read and read and read. From his years as a wandering laborer to his years on a ship, to his enormous popularity as an author, he never lost his zest for learning.
My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok – The fiction I’ve read this year would take an entire blog post in and of itself, but Asher Lev is special. Though Lev himself is a painter, not a writer, the vision of Art presented is fascinating and well worth your read, as are the splendid cast of characters and the incredible way Potok weaves them all together. You don’t want to miss this one.
The Well-Fed Writer, by Peter Bowerman – Interested in making money from your writing? Bowerman teaches us how to build a successful freelance, commercial writing business from the ground up. Not too many writing tips here, but when it comes to building a business it’s an excellent starting point. His blog, The Well Fed Writer, isn’t bad either. Check it out by clicking here, http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog/
Secrets of a Freelance Writer, by Bob Bly – Bob Bly is the go-to guy for all things commercial writing. He’s written dozens of books on how to become a successful business writer and Secrets of a Freelance Writer is the perfect start-up kit. I still keep it handy for those moments when I have a question on client procedure, or pricing, or a whole host of other little questions that suddenly loom very large in the moment. If you want to go the commercial route, there are few equals and none better.
This is in no way an exhaustive list. There are many and more that I could share, with these merely being the highlights. Have any books of your own you think other writers should know about? Encountered any of the books on my list yourself? Leave a comment and let us know what you’ve read and learned this past year!