Are you an avid reader?
I devour books of all sorts. Fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, business books, non-profit books, and books on personal development. Reading is my jam. Every morning it’s the first thing I do. I grab my cup of tea and spend 30 minutes reading. It’s something I really enjoy doing, so I don’t mind waking up a bit earlier to make time for it.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing a few of my best tips for writing compelling stories. But it occurred to me that I haven’t talked about one of the most essential things I do to improve my writing – I read a lot of great stories.
As a writer I’m always looking for inspiration. By reading great stories that other writers have written, I get a lot of ideas about things I like and things I don’t that I can bring into my own writing. This is one of the reasons I subscribe to 100+ nonprofit email lists. It’s how I do my research!
Today I thought I would share 4 books that I’ve recently read that are wonderful examples of great storytelling.
Zen Under Fire by Marianne Elliot
Most of this book is taken directly from Marianne’s journal pages while she was working for the U.N. in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007. Reading this has given me a new appreciation for humanitarian workers in war-torn regions. She writes very candidly about the stress and anxiety that came with her job. I also really love the way that this book puts you right in the thick of the plot conflict in the prologue. It’s certainly got me turning the pages because I wanted to know what was going to happen next!
Small Victories by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors. She has a beautiful way with language. As I was reading this book I would re-read certain sentences over and over again because they were so beautiful. This book is a small collection of essays about spotting grace during improbable moments. There was more than one essay that gave my tear ducts a workout.
Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
This turned out to be an incredibly interesting book. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy reading a book about an Olympic crew team, but it was a very well research and told story. It’s about the 9 men who were part of the 1936 Olympic crew team. They are coming out to the Great Depression and have very interesting personal stories that led them to crew. Layered on top of the story about the crew team of course, are some fascinating stories about the 1936 Berlin Olympics which happened during Hitler’s regime.
The Early Diary of Anais Nin 1927 to 1931 by Anais Nin
I’ve read quotes from Anais Nin and have always thought about her as an elusive literary figure. Early this month I decided to pick up a copy of one of her diaries (all of which are published). She writes openly about a lot of her life, including being a writer and her experiences as woman. From what I’ve read about her journals, they are largely unedited. What I find interesting is that you are reading the organic unfolding of one woman’s life, including all the ups and downs. Reading this has inspired me to start journaling again.
Those four books are my current reads. I hope you enjoy them!
Do you have a favorite book? Leave a comment below with the name and author.
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan is brilliantly written. Of course, I enjoy anything written by Rainbow Rowell. I recommend Lean In, as well, because Sheryl Sandberg is a shrewd storyteller.
Would you be willing to do a post about some of the nonprofit emails you subscribe to? Maybe share your top ten favorites?
Vanessa Chase Lockshin says
Yes, I will absolutely share that list in the blog. Thanks for asking about that and look for a post with the list very soon!