Writing Challenge: Books Books and More Books

At the conference there were several titles of books thrown around–writing craft books, non-fiction for character development, novels that opened eyes to possibilities, etc. Let’s share the love: what books did you or would you recommend for other writers? What have you read that has changed you as a writer? What books are on your list?


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33 responses to “Writing Challenge: Books Books and More Books

  1. Julie Hughes

    I’ll start with the obvious: Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott.

  2. Fiction:
    The Book Thief
    The Thief
    Love That Dog

    On Creating:
    Art and Fear

  3. How to Make Millions Writing Books In 3 Easy Steps
    Step 1 Don’t Write Sucky Stuff
    Step 2 Write a good plot
    Step 3 Make your characters interesting

    Plus if you buy the book they’ll give you a bonus dvd of The Best Conference Closing Extravaganza’s EVER.

  4. Books about writing:
    I remember On Writing by Steven King being rather nice and inspirational.
    And Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy had a lot of sound advice for writers in that genre, from what I recall.
    Books that have impacted me:
    Similar to the experience Mary Pearson talked about at the Young Readers conference, I felt The Outsiders resonated with me quite a bit. I ended up enjoying That Was Then, This is Now even more though… (It’s an in-universe sequel of sorts.) But I remember S. E. Hinton being a bit of an inspiration while I was in high school, since she was published at age 16.
    For something more recent, I’ve found The Hunger Games to be really encouraging to me. Gives me something to work toward, perhaps.

    • I need to read The Outsiders again. I know my niece read it with her seventh grade class in Las Vegas–a rough part of Las Vegas–and they were blown away. Loved it. Connected with it. That’s amazing and she was so young.

  5. Picture Books:

    Writing Picture books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul

  6. Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card
    The Elements of Style by William Strunk
    Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
    Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine
    Burning Down the House by Charles Baxter

  7. One of my other favorites is,

    How To Plagerize Without Getting Caught

    I found that one very useful.

    It helped me write a book called,

    Most Everything is Fine

    and another one called,

    The Really Chosen One

  8. The Lie That Tells a Truth by John Dufresne. AMAZING book. My college teacher had us read it instead of a text book and I’ll love him forever for it.

    Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas. Good for writing memoirs, but much of it applies to fiction, too.

  9. For Craft: I liked Picture Writing, just for validation.

    For research:
    Kubler-Ross grieving book On Death and Dying
    Richard Rhodes violence book Why They Kill
    Po Bronson’s parenting book Nurture Shock
    Carl Jung’s ground breaking Man and His Symbols

    For writing life and moral support
    Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class

    For health:
    Good Calories Bad Calories

    For Homesteading:
    Raising Goats for Fun and Profit

    For story structure:
    Carol’s forthcoming blockbuster movie “Open Doors and Icky Middles”

    I did see Julie & Julia Friday night and I said, that is my favorite movie ever.

    And my wife, Willow, said, Yeah. Because something got published.

    That is the difference between a comedy and tragedy.

    So I don’t ever want to see Lucinda’s movie Ernie & Ernest. The story about a Muppet that blogs about Hemingway. Then doesn’t get any attention so he shoots himself in the end.

    Cotton stuffing everywhere.

    Can you imagine?

    • Amy

      Neil you are killing me LOL

    • Me too, Neil. You are hilarious and disturbed.

      I am so glad you put up this list. i was trying to break the drama triangle? and had no idea was doing. Ended badly. Also, raising goats for fun and profit? Love it.

      • Oh my gosh I totally forgot about that book.

        Codependent No More: How to stop controlling others and take care of yourself [1987] is a
        MUST read for any artist trying to carve out a golden hour to create each day.

        It is the book that launched the self-help genre.

        It is honest and original and I usually hate self-help.

        Melodie Beattie is addressing the exact issues that we hear about every time a presenter at WIFYR is asked, I know you have two toddlers, so how did you write three novels this year without losing the kids to child protective services. And the author smiles and says, well actually I have visitation rights starting next month.

        Although the book addresses spouses of addicts, it applies. It really changed my work flow and productivity.

        Basically chapter two is the critical section. And you’ll learn about the drama triangle in there too.

        Plus it’s fun to see the triangle in literature and add it for tension in my own stuff.

        Drama is everywhere.

  10. I’m so glad you asked–my only regret from that week was that we never created our list of recommended reads! I will be adding all of these to my list.

    My most recent read was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and, though I wouldn’t recommend it to my mom, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to write YA with a male main character. Also for anyone who is trying to paint a clear portrait of another culture. Very interesting.

  11. I also like the Penguin classics.
    Or academic editions of the greats.
    Recently I read Elliot’s Wasteland and Other Poems
    And Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (but just the front matter and commentary.)

    In college I had a modern American lit class and for extra credit you could go down and watch the authors on film reading their work. I watched Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Allen Ginsburg (who was also a goat herdsman), and Pound and Elliot. It discussed their lives outside of literature and their struggles for publication. My favorite author is by far the country doctor, and his poem The Red Wheelbarrow. That would be William Carlos Williams.

    Movies for inspiration would be Julie and Julia, Becoming Jane, and The Princess Bride. I recommend The Princess Bride for any situation. It is more quoted than scripture in my house.

    Movies of what not to do as an artist are everywhere and so I try yo avoid them. Like Moulin Rouge, Pollack, and Amadeus.

    For hometown greatness anything about Minerva Teichert rocks. She is a superhero to me.

    To see genius and humor, the other day Rick Walton showed us Billy Collins reading his poem Litany on UTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56Iq3PbSWZY

    For a discussion on creativity in general and how to teach it, Will Strong recommends this:

    Last of all I think the new book The Genius in All of Us is light years ahead of what we traditionally think about how talent and genius intersect with normal everyday people. Look at Minerva Teichert for a prime example, not privileged, and very talented, and very normal.

  12. Ok I have more.

    If you have to write about guys, or live with one, then Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys is a must read. Pay particular attention to the diagrams of urinal strategies. Very enlightening.

    In the break outs Emily Wing Smith mentioned, The Forest Through the Trees by Betsy Lerner and that the most stolen book is Give a Boy a Gun.

    Mike Knudson quoted Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi.

    Ann Dee Ellis used Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life

    Christopher Robbins has a Writer’s Toolbox at his website for Gibbs Smith.

    Jennifer Hunt asked us to read read read. 100 books in your catagory/genre and study broadly, like watching documentaries, Spell Bound, War Dance, Hoop Dreams, Education of Shelly Knox.

    Last year I watched and rewatched all of Freaks and Geeks after I saw a segment of the show in Ann Dee’s presentation on dialogue. My whole family was hooked.

    My favorite quote is from Mary Kole’s plenary,

    There is no agony like carrying an untold story. Mia Angelou

    And I’d say no greater joy than telling it well.

  13. Hey Ann Dee maybe you could make a blog called Ann & Annie? You could blog about The Writing Life and how it applies to your career for a year.

    I was just kidding at first, but now I think I’d like to read that.

    Maybe it could be a weekly segment of this blog?

    • I do love that book. Sara and I had a discussion about it after the conference. She didn’t feel as connected to it. I pointed out a couple of my favorite passages and told her why I loved them. She agreed they were good but not her thing. Just shows that not all writing books are for every writer.

      What is the indie discount site again?

  14. rbs

    I don’t usually leave my blog address in a comment section, but I created a page of books I either read or listen to on my new “writing for me” blog thingy. Anyway, if anyone would like to check out my list and mini-reviews, you can find it under “Reading 2 Write” page at http://thewritegroove.wordpress.com/reading-2-write/

    If this is too tacky, please excuse me. Renae

  15. I thought of another book.

    Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand and I just read her Wikipedia entry and I’m getting chills thinking about how I can learn dialog from a master linguist. Her academic work is very interesting sounding.

    “Talking Voices, is a poetics of conversation. She shows that everyday conversation is made up of linguistic features such as repetition, dialogue, and imagery, that are traditionally regarded as literary.”


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