Being an active writer is about practice. Writing is a skill you have to work at to perfect. You must be prepared to muddle through many drafts of a single piece and realize that a first draft is never perfect as is. Writing also requires an understanding of style. As a freelance content creator, I’m often called upon to write for different audiences in different tones. In creative writing, understanding style can help you put substance into a story that simply sets the stage. While you can study style and writing technique, reading it can inspire you and help you see the benefits of versatility.
In this vein, I’m a big reader. I love a good story, but I also enjoy the way certain stories are told (which helps explain my love of 18th century literature.) I’ve also used reading as way to influence my own writing when I get stuck in a narrative piece. The way in which stories are told do as much to excite a reader as the plot and characters.
This is a list of my favorite books. They cross the gamut of genres, but I can go back and reread them at any time and still finish each book feeling like I’ve been a part of something special. I highly suggest building a booklist of your own that takes you into genres you don’t often frequent. Broaden your literary horizons and have fun with a good book.
In no particular order….
- Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
- Persuasion by Jane Austen
- His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
- A Wrinkle in Time Series (there are 4 books) by Madeleine L’Engle
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
- Anything by Jasper Fforde, but start with the Thursday Next books
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Little Women Trilogy by Louisa May Alcott
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
- Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
- Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins
- A Discovery of Witches trilogy by Deborah Harkness
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
- Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
I have another list of books that almost meet the requirements for this list; ones I’ve read more than once, but liked a little less the second time around, books that I won’t read again most likely, but made a deep impression. I only recently finished re-reading Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witch Trilogy. It was still entertaining the second time around, but I saw elements in her writing style that I didn’t like as much the first time I read the books, and the story lagged in a way I didn’t remember. There’s also the lengthly Anthony Trollope series about the fictional town of Barchester. It took me years to get through this series, but I loved the town and the books. However, the series required such a big time commitment, that I most likely won’t read it again. The books on this list though have stood the test of time for me as permanent favorites, most having been read before I turned 30.
I share my impressions of every book I read on a separate blog, Gsquared, which gives me an opportunity to get in a little writing practice while organizing my thoughts on what I’m reading, creating a resource I can go back to when I need some inspiration of my own. Please feel free to check it out if you’re looking for some vetted suggestions as to what your next book should be.