Monday, November 16, 2009

BEST WRITING BOOKS

I've just opened a 'store' on Amazon so that I have somewhere to point people for all the writing and inspiration books I love and use for my own writing and teaching. It's got five parts:

THE CLASSICS

These are the books I pull down from my shelves the most often. Examples are Bonnie Friedman's Writing Past Dark which addresses many of the issues - jealousy, fear, self-belief - that writers don't often admit to, even amongst themselves, and Stephen King's On Writing - forget the autobiographical bit, his insights into the writing process are predictably brilliant!

INSPIRATION KICK-STARTS

I think this is going to end up being the biggest category. Even seeing these books together like this makes me smile. Here are the books I've scribbled over, adapted for my writing and teaching exercises, and most of all - and probably most important for me - sat back and just admired the writing and the writer. The best books let us look inside someone else's brain, and I like what I see in here!

GRIPPING DOCUMENTARIES

A relatively new passion for me, but here are the DVDs I've watched open-mouthed and open-journaled. Partly the subject matter, but also the discipline, new ways of thinking, and connections made in these films make me want to do better, write better, think better. What I Want My Words To Do To You is American format only but is an inside look at how teaching writing in a prison setting can bring people back to life again. It's moving and most of all, human. All writers should watch Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth at least once, if only to see how Star Wars was structured!

HOW TO READ AND WRITE POETRY

The shortest category so far, but these particular books are already dog eared and much much used.

WRITING MEMOIR AND ESSAYS

This is definitely in progress because it's the area I'm working in most at the moment. Watch this space!

8 comments:

SueG said...

what a great idea. Thanks from all of us. xo

penelopeoverton said...

This is an excellent list, and I will definitely use it as a resource. One or two things to add: Have just finished a book called Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose which was extremely interesting, keeps close to texts some of which were completely new to me, and a book I will go back to often, I'm sure. I also love the Paris Review Interviews, Vol 4 has just come out. The other resource which I love, is the free podcast of New Yorker Fiction, where a short story writer choses something from the back catalogue, reads it and comments on it. There are some classics on this, and some less well known stories, it's extraordinarily good.

Sarah Salway said...

Glad you like it! And thanks for the Paris Review reminder, Penelope - they have a great website for the interviews too: http://www.theparisreview.com/literature.php

Cathy said...

Ooh, very interesting. I've already got/read quite a few of these, but lots more books to explore. Thank you.

Sarah Salway said...

Thanks Cathy! We should keep a list somewhere of all our favourite writing books - although I sometimes wonder if I spend more time reading writing books than writing!

Lost Wanderer said...

This is wonderful. I'm always looking for good books, and once that help with writing are all the more better.

Thanks for doing this.

Rachel said...

Hi Sarah, stumbled across your blog and absolutely love it. Such inspiration. Thank you :)

jem said...

Great list. A fair few I've got and swear by. The Alan Fletcher makes me a little breathless! A fair few I have on wishlists. A fair few new ones I now want.

I'll keep checking this and let you know if I stumble on anything you might like.