7 Books Every Writer Should Read to Find Inspiration
Updated: Oct 31
One of the best parts of my job is writing. I write content for the web, like this blog post. I ghost write for other blogs and businesses. A Wild Lass encompasses a lot of types of content, so I also produce social posts and even content for events (then I travel to the event and produce it).
What’s that you say? How do all these things even make sense under one umbrella? Yeah, we’re never bored around here, and I’m always busy.
But I always have time for reading. Reading a lot makes you a better writer. Even if I feel like I don’t have time to sit and read, usually with the excuse that I’m working on my writing skills, I can win myself over.
There are many types of book that help a writer grow, but here are seven of the best ones that have helped me over the years:
1. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
This will resonate more with Gilmore Girls fans, but there are two things I think every writer can gain from this book.
First, Lauren Graham was an English major and she’s actually a really good writer. Each chapter’s structure is brilliant, and she’s great at circling back to her points from the beginning and bringing everything around. This skill is one I constantly need to work on.
Second, she discusses a tip that a fellow writer offered her when she was working on her book, and this technique is one I have implemented in my own writing practices and it really works. Reading this book is worth it for every writer, if only for this brief discussion and nothing else.
Check out this book from your library or find it on audio (it’s only about 5 hours long).
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
This is a YA book with an intended audience of ages 15-22 (ish). Yet the structure and writing is good enough to be one you’d analyze in a literature class at university, and well worth a read just for the meta.
It’s also pretty funny and touching, and you may even enjoy the process.
3. How to Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
Reading this is a slow process. It’s not fiction, and it’s not “fun.” Yet it gives you real skills for reading important works and deeper materials. In school you learn only the most basic level of reading, what this book calls “Elementary Reading.” Because no one expects you to learn any reading skills beyond that level, most people don’t know that they’re missing anything.
Once you read this book, you’ll have skills to practice, like taking notes, re-reading, and true analytical reading of any work.
4. Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
This book isn’t about writing in particular, but its subtitle is “The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World” and if that doesn’t embody what a writer tries to do, I don’t know what does. Especially for freelancers, this short guide can turn your daily writing practices into something more productive and calculated.
5. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
If you want to know both how to confuse your readers and then how to straighten them out again, this is the book for you. Told from different characters’ points of view, Turton does a brilliant job of making one event come to life. Any writer should read as much as possible, from as many genres as possible. This style will either make you decide you want to be just as brilliant, or give you a strong determination never to be so convoluted in your own writing.
I also highly recommend his other book, The Devil and the Dark Water. PS, he has a third book coming out soon.
6. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
American classics aren’t my usual cup of tea, but this one made my heart sing. For an author to inject so much hope into such a hopeless situation is nothing short of a miracle. If you didn’t have to read this in school, I encourage you to pick it up and read it as an adult. If it’s tough for you, try the audiobook. The narrator is excellent, and I was happy to learn that it was on the short list for a well-deserved Pulitzer in 1944, although it did not win.
It will give you a general sense of inspiration, but you also may pick up writing skills about crafting a plot, good writing in general, and character development.
7. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Jenny is a person who suffers from mental illness and is also a writer. She tells, through hilarious anecdotes, what it’s like to try and continue her writing and her career alongside these many challenges. In a brutally honest, easy to read volume, Jenny goes where writers don’t always dare to go, and takes you along with her.
Writers who want to laugh and also cry should pick this up, especially if you sometimes feel you’re the only one out there.
Hopefully these seven make your Goodreads Want to Read list. Be sure to add me on there so I can see what you’re reading and find recommendations!
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