Friday Fun — What One Book Would You Recommend?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Someone recently asked me if I could recommend a book on writing for a beginning writer. What one book would you recommend?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I’d recommend Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. I know I’ve mentioned this book before on this site, but this is the book that gave me permission to stop taking writing to seriously and just get something on the page. I re-read this book at least once a year and I always find something new to process every time I do!

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: Outwitting Writer’s Block and Other Problems of the Pen by Jenna Glatzer. I have this book so marked up with stickies that I can barely flip the pages. The word “Outwitting” caught my attention in the bookstore’s writing section. Instead of “beating”, “conquering”, “eliminating”, and other well-used bully-sounding words, ‘outwitting’ is clever.  enjoy the conversational tone, the exercises, and the fun I have each time I open this book.

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: That’s easy. I’d go with an old favorite – Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write. This slim tome is aptly and, I think, beautifully sub-titled: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit.

book ueland want writeThere is hardly a page of this book that isn’t criss-crossed with pencil underlinings from previous readings. In some places, I’ve actually drawn hearts and stars in the margins. Originally published in 1938, this book is as relevant as ever, perhaps even more so. With a gentle, but no nonsense voice, Ueland quietly transforms the often overwhelming task of writing into a simple magic that feels simultaneously accessible and miraculous.

If you have ever felt daunted by writing or doubtful about your right to write, please read this book. I promise you that it will warm your heart, ease your mind, and stoke your creative fires.

Deborah Lee Luskin

Deborah Lee Luskin: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony all the lightDoerr. This is a book that kept me on the couch, unable to move anything but a finger to turn the pages. I was caught by both the story and the language. Wonderful.



22 thoughts on “Friday Fun — What One Book Would You Recommend?

  1. Pingback: Reblog Friday | 3 Books on Writing for Aspiring Writers | JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

    • I have that one, but haven’t read it yet. A creative fiction author who taught a workshop at the Grub Street Muse conference a few years ago recommended it to me. I’m curious why you picked it.

      • It’s a relatable book, like sitting in a room having a conversation with Zinsser himself. Definitely worth your time, Jamie. Another of my favorites is Stephen King’s On Writing.

  2. “The Forest for the Trees” by Betsy Lerner. Not a how-to book on writing, but one that focuses on the struggles writers often experience and process.

  3. I’m currently reading Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley. This was a recommendation in one of Jamie Wallace’s blogs a few months ago. I’m reading it thru Kindle but I think I may need the actual book. Indeed a good reference 🙂

  4. I recently attended an Arvon Course on the Art of Beating Demons and Procrastination and ordered ‘Bird By Bird’ after one of the tutors, Emma Jane Unsworth recommended it. I found it really inspiring and totally un-stuffy. I am now reading my second recommendation – Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.

  5. My own. Not because it was wonderfully written or very different, but because it changed my future, my deeams and my perspective of the world, giving me a new perspective of my life
    Neverland by Rami C.May

  6. Pingback: The Importance of Reading Carefully | Live to Write – Write to Live

  7. “Writing down the bones” by Natalie Goldberg is one that I return to again and again when I need to be inspired to write. It works as a whole book, or just reading one or more of the brief chapters.

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