Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Books on Reading and Writing

Reading Life: Books for the Ages by Sven Birkerts

There are a few new and older books on writing and reading. Recently Francine Prose (kinda a cool name for a writer) wrote Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. Now Birkerts has come out with a new book that has "twelve far-reaching and intimate essays ... that reflects about time, memory, the murmuring of selfhood."

Arts and Letters by Edmund White

In these 39 lively essays and profiles, best-selling novelist and biographer Edmund White draws on his wide reading and his sly good humor to illuminate some of the most influential writers, artists, and cultural icons of the past century ...

Whether he’s praising Nabokov's sensuality, critiquing Elton John’s walk ("as though he’s a wind-up doll that's been overwound and sent heading for the top of the stairs"), or describing serendipitous moments in his seven-year-long research into the life of Genet, White is unfailingly observant, erudite, and entertaining.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland

Ueland has inspired thousands to take up the pen or keyboard in her classic, If You Want to Write, and has moved countless others to become more artistic, more optimistic, more charged with possibility. Ueland’s charismatic personality, and her encouragement that “everybody is talented, original and has something important to say,” have made her a favorite among fans ranging from creative writing students to computer programmers.

Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
by Ursula K. LeGuin

I really love this book. Her chapter on writing "gorgeously" is especially compelling. Ursula K. LeGuin is known as a writer of speculative fiction and is most famous for her Earthsea series, (I am a huge fan of her book Left Hand of Darkness). Ms. LeGuin is also one of the finest writers living. Her handling of English prose can be counted as some of the best. Her instruction here is really good to use as exercises to get going. Especially good if you find yourself stuck.

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing
by Margaret Atwood

What do we mean when we say that someone is a writer? Is he or she an entertainer? A high priest of the god Art? An improver of readers’ minds and morals? And who, for that matter, are these mysterious readers? In this wise and irresistibly quotable book, one of the most intelligent writers now working in English addresses the riddle of her art: why people pursue it, how they view their calling, and what bargains they make with their audience, both real and imagined.


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