It’s no secret that I’m a bookworm.
My house is overflowing with stacks of dusty tomes. My phone frequently runs out of space due to the sheer amount of audiobooks hogging up space.
Reading and writing. They’re kinda my thing.
This week, I was in New York meeting with my agent and publisher and I had the opportunity to stop by the Random House offices off Broadway.
Imagine my nerdy glee when they let me look through their private library of rare first edition copies.
Here’s an original copy of one of my all-time favorites — Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Swoon.
Hemingway used to joke, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
I couldn’t agree more. The craft takes time and the patience to do a lifetime of arduous, tedious, rewarding work.
Here’s a shortcut: If you want to consistently improve at the craft of writing, reading books about the process will help you to learn new ways of thinking about your work.
Here are 5 books I read that helped me become a better writer this year, along with a very brief synopsis. Just picking up one or two of these masterpieces will be well worth the $15 spent for the insight gained.
Just picking up one or two of these masterpieces will be well worth the $15 spent for the insight gained.
1. On Writing — by Stephen King
I’ve mentioned this book before, and for good reason: it is most likely the best book ever written on writing, from a man who does nothing but produce masterpieces, year after year. If you can only get one book on this list, stop here.
2. Bird by Bird — by Anne Lamott
Anne is one of my favorite writers of both fiction and non-fiction. This book is a semi-autobiographical reflection on how she pulls the most creative ideas out of herself, despite the constant creative challenges. Muy bueno!
3. Do The Work — by Stephen Pressfield
Pressfield’s followup to his classic The War of Art digs even deeper into what he dubs The Resistance, that invisible, malevolent force that stops artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and doers from completing their projects. Such a short read, I’ve already gone through it twice, which I think is the point. He wants us to hurry up and finish reading his book so that we can, you guessed it…do the work.
4. Small is the New Big — by Seth Godin
Everybody knows that Seth is one of my biggest inspirations.
(Have you heard my recent podcast with him?)
I love this book because it is essentially a collection of 180+ interesting ideas designed to spark new creative insight. Full of fun thought experiments, irreverent observations and plenty of meaningful, powerful advice, this book delivers the goods. Per usual for Seth.
5. Man’s Search For Meaning — by Viktor E. Frankl
This book is a first-hand account of Frankl’s experiences at several Nazi death camps in the 1940’s. So in many ways, this isn’t a book about writing, it’s a book about life. But what makes this work so powerful is the vulnerability and honesty, expressed through Frankl’s words, that allow you to connect directly with his soul. All writers should aspire to this level of resonance with their audience. Beautiful.