Judith Barrington: Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edit
A narrative account of writing the memoir.
Anne Bernays: What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers (3rd Edition)
A great collecton of writing exercises and prompts for fiction writers. Intended as a college-level text. A little expensive, but the only book of its kind out there.
Ernest Hemingway: Ernest Hemingway on Writing
A thin book chocked full of Hemingway's observations on writing. The quotes are thoughtful and beautiful--so unlike the he-man hunter image. He loved writing--loved perfecting his craft. His quotes about writing reveal his love for writing. An inspirational book that should be on the shelf of any/all fiction writers.
Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
If you're a writer and haven't read Anne Lamott's book, you've cheated yourself. It's inspiration and rings true. It's become a classic for writers--especially those just beginning. I'm going back and reading it again. I need a little inspiration right now!
Charles Baxter: Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction
A collection of essays by Baxter in which he mixes commentary on society and fiction writing. I read this book shortly after it was first published and my copy has increased in weight from all the marginal notes I've made. In truth, the book is a little academic, a bit heavy handed--so, it might be for the writer who truly wants to delve into the mix of theory/writing/social commentary. But, by my way of thinking, Baxter is always a good read!
Phillip Lopate: The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present
If you're interested in the personal essay, you've got to have this. It's considered the seminal text. This book has a little of everything--although the first part is definitely academic. Most of us will be more interested in the last of the essays--the ones by contemporary writers. Check out the essays by James Baldwin, Mary Gordon, Scott Russell Sanders, Joan Didion, etc.
Collection: The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House
This is a collection of essays from the Tin House Writing Conference in Oregon. It's terrific! I especially like the essay by Susan Bell, "Revisioning THE GREAT GATSBY." Reading a collection like this gives the workshop experience without being there!
Julie Checkoway: Creating Fiction
CREATING FICTION--a collection of essays by writers and professors, published by the Associated Writing Programs (AWP). I use this book in some of my classes. A great collection of essays on craft. Some of my favorites include essays by Richard Russo (on place/character); Debra Spark (what gives rise to fiction); John Barth (incremental pertubations in plot); Jane Smiley (on revision). This collection should be on every writer's bookshelf.
Janet Burroway: Writing Fiction A Guide to the Narrative Craft (6th Edition)
This is the basic--the standard. Every writer should own a copy of Burroway. There are seven edition. I prefer one of the older editions. I think the 5th edition is my favorite. Find chapters on everything from plot to characterization, to point-of-view. After each chapter, find short stories that illustrate points made in the chapter. Burroway is a starting point for building a fiction writing library.
Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games
Stephen King in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY wrote: "A violent, jarring, speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense . . . . I couldn't stop reading." Exquisitely plotted--superb tension and pacing! Linda Busby Parker
Annie Proulx: That Old Ace in the Hole : A Novel
A novel about character transformed by place. A young man working for an agricultural conglomerate scouts land for pig farms along the Texas/Oklahoma border, a lonesome place of stark beauty. The place is reminiscent of the moors of England--lonesome and starkly beautiful indeed! But, it's not England, it's that flat, harsh middle-of-the-USA land. The boy becomes a man as he travels alone on a mission of questionable value.
Annie Proulx: The Shipping News: A Novel (Scribner Classics)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and The National Book Award, a story of how place transforms a young man. Place becomes salvation! An elegant rendering of character development within place. In terms of literary novels, this is indeed a classic, having a couple of essential ingredients of literary fiction--character transformation and elegant writing.
Susan Vreeland: Girl in Hyacinth Blue
A series of related stories about a would-be Vermeer painting and what it meant to several families and individuals. Vreeland writes about famous painters of by-gone days. She's an artist herself and does an outstanding job of describing color, texture, and emotions engendered by a great work of art. You might want to also read her novel, LUNCHEON OF THE BOATING PARTY, about Auguste Renoir, Paris, 1880.
Tracy Chevalier: Girl with a Pearl Earring, Deluxe Edition
A gorgeous book about a teenager working as a servant in the home of the great painter, Johannes Vermeer, in Holland, 1664. The book smoothly and elegantly transports the reader to the time and place. The character come alive. The book is much better than the movie, however!
Barbara Robinette Moss: Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A Memoir
This was one of the first books I put on my blog, but, I'm adding it again to get it close to the front. A must read!
Kent Haruf: Eventide
The two old brothers in this novel are two of my favorite characters in all of literature. They are the larger than life ordinary/extraordinary people. Their standing on the front porch waiting to receive a pregnant teen is one of my favorite scenes in all of literature. You've missed a treat if you haven't read Haruf. Bring a hanky to this read--you'll need it! The sense of place is exquisite too!
Kent Haruf: Plainsong
So beautifully written. Kent Haruf makes you feel lonesome to be in the places he writes about. His characters come off the page. Haruf's books explore longings in the hearts of everyday people--but each of the characters in PLAINSONG is extraordinary in his or her own way.
David Pierce: Don't Let Me Go: What My Daughter Taught Me About the Journey Every Parent Must Make
A memoir about a father and daughter running marathons and climbing mountains. Both grow closer to each other and closer to God. We have our children for a short while before they are grown and out on their own. David Pierce discovered a way of enjoying this limited time. It's an easy read--inspirational!
Helene Cooper: The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood
This memoir is about a Liberian childhood. I love works like this because they give me insights into lives I could never know outside of books. I bought the hardcopy and also purchased the audio version. It is a fabulous audio book. As a reader, you're actually there--in Liberia. It was a N.Y TIMES best seller forever!