I hope you are finding time to refresh and rejuvenate this week between Christmas and New Year’s. I’ve been reading a lot, since Bob, Mr. WordPress, gave me the best Christmas present ever. It was better than the warm, fuzzy socks. Better even than the foaming bath oil and scented candle from L’Occitane.
It was a Kindle!
Now, when you live on a ferry-only island, getting just about anywhere on the mainland—a mega-grocery store, a library, a bookstore—can take at least half a day. If you happen to miss the ferry that runs hourly, it takes even longer. But if you have a Kindle, with Amazon’s one-click buy and instant download, you can make your purchase and start reading within seconds.
It was the perfect solution.
You’ve heard me talk about why writers and bloggers should be readers, too. So, in the spirit of sharing, I offer my best reads of 2011. Note: I am not an affiliate and have no financial motivation for recommending these. I just think they are the best books I read in 2011.
My favorite reads of 2011
Holidays on Ice– David Sedaris writes a collection of laugh-until-you-snort, holiday-themed stories and personal essays. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be “Santaland Diaries,” his accounting of the Christmas he worked as a Macy’s elf.
Lit – I’ve been in love with Mary Karr’s storytelling since The Liars’ Club, her memoir of growing up in a hardscrabble Texas town with an unstable family. Her new book follows her journey from drunk to sober, in only the darkly hilarious way she can tell it.
Paris to the Moon – This is not a new book (2000), but it was new to me. New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik offers a collection of 23 essays and journal entries about what he learned when he, his wife and their son spent five years in Paris. Told with the observation of a reporter, with an extra dose of wit and charm thrown in.
The Craft of Writing
On Writing – Again, not a new book, but one I read at least once a year. In the first part, Stephen King gives us a peek into how his childhood shaped him as a writer. The second half gives us his best writing advice. My favorite takeaway sentence: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
Story Engineering– My friend, the talented Larry Brooks, writes about how to build a story with a foolproof process that made more sense to me than any other book I’ve read on plotting.
The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner’s Manual – Victoria Mixon’s book has applications for storytelling—and for life. You’ll find everything you need to know about writing a story, all in one place. I haven’t read her sequel yet, but I’m going to pick it up.
The Fine Print of Self-Publishing – A writer friend recommended Mark Levine’s book to me and I wasn’t disappointed. Industry professionals say it’s a must-read for anyone considering self-publishing their book. A helpful and concise breakdown of the costs, contracts and process of self-publishing.
The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-standard Text for Writing and Life – I’ll be talking about this in a separate review on my blog, but just let me say that whether you want to write life stories to give your children and grandchildren or you want to formally publish a memoir (or know someone who does), you must get this book. Marion Roach Smith shows you how to find your memoir’s theme/topic and pull only the ideas that apply to it. Brilliant stuff.
Write the Perfect Book Proposal – I can’t say enough good things about Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman’s book. They are both agents who have sold hundreds of titles to publishers. In the first part, they give you step-by-steps for writing a book proposal that editors and book publishers will notice. The second half looks at 10 actual proposals that sold and why. I followed their advice and already have a strong first draft of my proposal completed.
Dream Save Do – My friends Betsy and Warren Talbot, of the Married with Luggage blog had a dream: to travel the world for five years. Whether you want to do that, or write your book, or start that business, or whatever, you can follow the steps to your dream with this book. What I love is that it’s not just the dreaming part; it’s the doing part. They show you exactly how to raise the money to do it. Digital version only.
One Hundred Names for Love – Diane Ackerman has written an inspiring love story about her gifted writer husband Paul West’s journey back to the world of words after suffering a devastating stroke. This amazing story starts with West being unable to speak (except for “mem, mem, mem”) and ends with a return to his desk and the writing of three more novels. Very inspiring.
There they are: my recommendations for 2011. By this time next year, I plan on having a link to my first book. ,
What about you?
Do you have any favorite reads from 2011?
Like to tell us what you loved and why?