What’s on Your Shelf Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links Jul 23

I don’t think they run them anymore, but I always kind of liked Capital One’s “What’s in Your Wallet?” campaign. My fondness for the ads might have something to do with the fact that Alec Baldwin and Samuel L. Jackson make excellent spokespeople. I’m just saying.

Anyway …

I thought it might be fun to put a writerly spin on the tagline by asking, “What’s on your [writer’s] shelf?”

Here is my writer’s bookcase in situ, so to speak:

on your shelf 1

It’s a utilitarian piece of furniture that I found via Craig’s List many years ago. It sits to the left of my cat bed-adorned writing desk. (You can see one of my two cats in the photo. She looks surprised and slightly guilty because I caught her in the middle of a catnip snack.)

And here is a closer look at the contents of my shelf:

on your shelf 2

  1. This section is a mish-mosh of writing-related books including classic  favorites like Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones as well as less well-known works like Jessica Abel’s Out on The Wire and Christina Baldwin’s Storyteller. It also includes some fairly new works including Don Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel and Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know. I’ve also got a couple of books that are more about story in culture: The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall and Wired for Story by Lisa Cron.
  2. Section two is comprised of books about structure and inspirational books. On the structure side, we’ve got Story by Robert McKee, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up (on creative nonfiction) by Lee Gutkind, A Story is a Promise by Bill Johnson, Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. On the inspirational side, we have Letters to a Young Novelist by Mario Vargos Llosa, On Writing Well by William Zinsser, The Trickster’s Hat by Nick Bantock, and Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art Speech.
  3. This section is books that I haven’t really read, but which I keep around because I have good intentions: First Words edited by Mandelbaum, in which we get to read the earliest works of favorite contemporary authors; the workshop edited by Tom Grimes, in which we explore seven years of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; the Norton Anthology of Poetry (probably a hold over from my college days); and Short Novels of the Masters edited by Charles Neider, a book I bought through a book club more than a decade ago and haven’t yet opened. <sigh>
  4. These are not writing books. These are orphan books that couldn’t find a home on any of my other bookshelves, so they landed here: Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin, Irene M. Pepperberg’s Alex & Me (about her work with an African Gray parrot), Emma Ford’s Fledgling Days (about falconry), Hand Wash Cold by Karen Miller (Zen), French Women Don’t Get Fat (don’t ask), and The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison (a book I am terrified to read because I am sure it will make me bawl like a baby).

on your shelf 3

  1. Most of these books are also not about writing, but about other creative practices including graphic design, zentangles, drawing, and painting. There are a few, however, that have to do with the written word including a couple of quote anthologies, a book of Regency and Victorian insults (Deadlier Than the Male, compiled by Michelle Lovric), Rotten Rejections (a collection of literary rejections edited by Andre Bernard), and an odd little collection of lessons for grown-ups from children’s books called What the Dormouse Said collected by Amy Gash.
  2. Style and grammar books: The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition; Strunk and White (of course!); Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Trauss; Lapsing into a Comma by Bill Walsh; A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker; The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi; Roget’s International Thesaurus, and the beautiful (and hefty!) American Heritage Dictionary.
  3. These are mostly marketing-related books, but my collection includes a few writing-related references: Everybody Writes by Ann Handley, Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, and The Well-fed Writer by Peter Bowerman.
  4. This last section is also a bit eclectic, most notably including No Plot? No Problem! by NaNoWriMo founder, Chris Baty and a fun little flip book of writing prompts by Jason Sacher called The Amazing Story Generator.

So, that’s my collection.

If you’d like to play along and share your writer’s book shelf, please share publish a blog post (and share the link below) or post an image to either Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #whatsonyourshelf … I’d love to see what you’ve got!

_jamie sig



 Books I’m Reading:

I am actually reading books (four at once, actually … a bit more than I usually tackle, but there are extenuating circumstances), BUT I still haven’t FINISHED any. Next week. I promise!

··• )o( •··

My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:





Sundry Links and Articles:

friedman cohenThis coming Wednesday – July 27th – Jane Friedman is partnering with Bryan Cohen to present a free training about writing sales copy that will help you sell your book. The sign-up page for this free event lists the following as part of the presentation:

  • The foolproof system for writing compelling book descriptions
  • How to turn your new description into a click-worthy ad
  • How to boost your ad results with a few small changes
  • Plus… Live Q&A with Jane and Bryan

I’m a long-time fan of Friedman’s work, so I’m betting this will be a worthwhile event, even if there is a sales pitch at the end of the presentation.

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin trapped library

Here’s to appreciating our own libraries and dreaming about all the libraries we have yet to explore.
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

23 thoughts on “What’s on Your Shelf Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links Jul 23

  1. We have 12-five shelf bookcases….no, make that 13..( keep forgetting my cookbook bookcase…what? Sure, I have 150+ cookbooks…I was a professional cook and they are great bits of community history). Even after we culled, donated and recycled probably the equivilant amount. One is full of theology books.An equally full one is full of feminist history, theaology, and the like. The others are scattered ARC and reading wins. The little bookcase here in our living room has all the #GoodReads book wins, one working and one semi-working laptops, coloring books, my small DVD Collection, as well as 2 kitchen santos and some art pieces

    • I have culled my overall collection again and again and again, but my collection still takes up five additional bookcases in my house other than the one I’ve shared here today that’s dedicated to just my books on writing. If there’s going to be anything taking up an inordinate amount of space in my house, it’s going to be books! 😉

      Ps – 150 cookbooks?!? Wow. I think I might have six. Then again, I’m an idiot in the kitchen.

  2. I have ten bookcases with genres fiction, science fiction, classics and etc. There are books on anything here and there but I try to keep them organized and its nearly impossible.

    • I organize my fiction collection by genre, too … well … loosely by genre. You’re right – it IS nearly impossible to keep them organized!

  3. Pingback: Think Out Loud by Aida

  4. I really liked the part where you wrote you read books instead of a book. I always thought it was a weird habit that I have, I can’t help but start reading new books before finishing the prior, usually juggling 2-3 books at a time. I am currently reading “leaving Microsoft to change the world” and “freakconomics”. Just 2, easier times :p

    • I used to be a monogamous reader, but now – anything goes. Sometimes, I admit that I get the storylines mixed up for a moment if I’m reading, for instance, two or three fantasy stories. But, mostly, I mix some fiction and non-fiction and choose novels that are from different genres so I don’t get too confused. 😉
      Happy reading!

    • I love me some Thurber and White. Haven’t tried Wodehouse yet, though I’ve heard good things. And a writing book by Bradbury is definitely on my list!

      Thanks for sharing.

  5. Pingback: What’s on Your Shelf Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links Jul 23 — Live to Write – Write to Live | tripping the page fantastic

  6. Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:

    What’s on Your Shelf Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links Jul 23
    by Suddenly Jamie (@suddenlyjamie)
    I don’t think they run them anymore, but I always kind of liked Capital One’s “What’s in Your Wallet?” campaign. My fondness for the ads might have something to do with the fact that Alec Baldwin and Samuel L. Jackson make excellent spokespeople. I’m just saying.

    Anyway …

    I thought it might be fun to put a writerly spin on the tagline by asking, “What’s on your [writer’s] shelf?”

  7. Book orphans. Perfect phrase.
    We downsized a few years ago, so my books have been culled and rehomed at our small local library ( so I can still visit them HA) and soem are still in boxes after all these year. But I found a bookcase which will be carted ome soon and then it will be fun revisiting titles and setting them up on shelves in “neighborhoods”.

    • I love the idea that your books will reside in book “neighborhoods.” That’s just how I feel about my library “system” (and, I use the term loosely). I’m glad your donated books are still close by. I have donated and gifted many, many books over the years, and few have remained close by. I sometimes wonder what lives those once-loved novels are living now. Where did they wind up? Who has read them? What changes did they make in the world? I suppose I’ll never know, but it’s interesting to think about it. 🙂

      • My grandmother, a university research librarian, said acouple of things that stayed with me: if you like someone, give them a book as a gift for Christmas or birthday, if someone steals a book/doesn’t return it, don’t fret – maybe they needed it more than you, and once you are through reading a book, pass it on as books belong in the hands of readers – or it dies.Hopefully everyones’ books that are liberated and go on, find eager eyes and minds

      • That is so lovely. Thank you for sharing such an open perspective and good advice on the care & “release” of the books we love. 🙂

    • No bookshelf?!? My house would be a MESS! 😉
      Good luck with your donating and reselling!

  8. O my your books. I am also a book lover and reading has been my main hobby as far as I can remember may be from the age of six other than music. Now the books are mostly self-help, motivation, and mostly on health issues as I am writing about my journey on how I overcame long-term depression. I saw your face book page, I hope we can be friends ? if not ok as I see you here to read. Its only now I am developing my blog and improving my writing skills. So I like to learn from other successful writers as you. Thank you for sharing all about your books and information. Love and Light from me 🙂

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