In the quest to become an author, I’ve started reading books about writing. I’ve heard repeatedly; to write, you must read a lot. And I do read a lot! I’d have a hell of a lot of trouble running a literary magazine and hosting a literary podcast if I didn’t! But I only really read fiction. When I stray from fiction, it’s personal essays or poetry. I hadn’t really delved into reading books specifically about writing, until this year. The following contains my top five books you should read if you want to write.
As I have heard repeatedly; 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!
My mum bought me this book for my birthday. She listened to one of my podcast episodes where a guest author recommended it to me. And then another author. And then another. It seems you don’t often come across an author who doesn’t recommend this book for aiding your writing process. And so, my mum thought she’d best grab me a copy!
I already love Stephen King, my favourite reads of his are Carrie, The Shining and Doctor Sleep. And I’d heard brilliant things about his personal writing process, particularly about how he drafts novels. I had high hopes for On Writing, and it lived up to them! Stephen King cuts the bullshit and has a no-nonsense approach to writing processes. He just tells it how it is and is completely honest about his writing journey.
Can we just talk about how fitting and slightly punny it is that an author who writes about writing’s last name is ‘Prose’? I hope I’m not the only one who enjoys that.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the most important pieces of advice I’ve received from authors and from the books I’ve read about writing, is that to write, you need to get reading. Read whatever you have available. Anything you can get your hands on.
Reading Like a Writer’s chapters are designated to a literary device. For example, one chapter is paragraphs. Others are narration, character, etc. It’s a guidebook rather than a narration on personal experience like On Writing, but just as important. It really helped me to focus on different aspects of writing.
I enjoyed this book, mainly because it’s short but sweet. Like Reading like a Writer, this book is a guidebook for aspiring authors rather than a narration of personal experience from an author. I believe (I could be wrong) Alex Quick is a journalist, who has published books (aside from this month) and with the knowledge he picked up, created this guide to aid aspiring writers through their own journeys.
This book is slightly more like On Writing, if you’d prefer to read suggestions and personal experiences of writing. Anne Lamott also takes a similar ‘no bullshit’ approach to writing, again similarly to King, and de-bunks a lot of myths about writing and publishing. Anne Lamott is very ‘real’ and lets writers know exactly what to expect when publishing. And from her experience, she suggests it’s not for the faint-hearted!
This book was my least favourite of the bunch, but nonetheless, a brilliant book that’s served me through my writing. The reason I like this book a little less (though I still love it) is because it takes more of a ‘marketing’ approach, and I prefer the guides and narrations. This book could definitely help bloggers, business owners & marketers, as well as aspiring authors. Much of the book is focused on ‘sending a message’ and ‘gaining traction’ so you can see how the information translates to other industries. Despite being ‘businessy’, this is still one of the books you should read if you want to write! Jonah Sachs describes some really important anecdotes about storytelling, writing a story that will stand out from the crowd, and is generally inspiring.
Literally Anything by Anyone At All
Because that’s the main lesson we can take away from each of the books listed here.
So, that’s it! Those are my top books you should read if you want to write! If you have any other book suggestions for aspiring writers, please leave them in the comments! I’d love to read more.
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