You have no doubt heard it said over and over again, in order to write, you need to read. Probably the most famous person who says this is Stephen King. And to be fair, if Stephen says it’s true, who am I to argue. The following are 5 top books you should read if you want to write. There are of course many, many others, but these are a good place to start:
1. ON WRITING BY STEPHEN KING
This is a fantastic book on writing. I love Stephen King, and in this book he describes his personal writing process as well as making suggestions for other writers. 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
The premise of this book is firmly founded on the mantra: in order to write, you need to read. 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 because they taught me how to tell stories.
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 learn how to focus on all of the different aspects of writing.
3. THE ART OF SPIRITUAL WRITING BY VINITA HAMPTON WRIGHT
I like this book because it is a) short (161 pages) and b) speaks of the importance of authenticity in writing. It is important to share experience and talk about things that are uncomfortable because it’s a way of connecting with others.
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”.
4. BIRD BY BIRD BY ANNE LAMOTT
This is another great book that contains both suggestions and experiences similar to that of King in On Writing. What I like about it 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.
Be warned, this book does not 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
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 make others take 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.
Happy reading! 🙂