• The cover of the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

    Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

    First things first: you want to write, then you’ve gotta sit your butt down in that chair (or bed, if you’re Capote or Proust; or you can just stand like Hemingway—whatever) and work. How long should you work, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at Mason Currey’s wonderfully informative and (not surprisingly) a bit discouraging book Daily Rituals, in which Currey briefly explains the writing schedules of 161 major authors. Take your pick: you could work the not unreasonable hours of 9 am to noon, like Thomas Mann did, or you can take the graveyard shift and work on and off from 5 pm until 3 in the morning, like Fitzgerald did (or tried to do; he was off partying many of those nights). But if a rigid routine is not your strong suit, maybe you can take after Sylvia Plath, who could never nail down a solid writing routine. Or if you’re just obsessed, you can work twelve-hour days like H.L. Mencken, but…I wouldn’t recommend it.

     
  • The cover of the book Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores

    Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores

    Most writers have their go-to bookstores, the ones they haunt and peruse and buy from, and hopefully one day they’ll get a chance to hold an event for their just published book. In cartoonist Bob Eckstein’s delightful book, he presents 75 paintings and a wonderful selection of stories from the some of the best bookstores around the world. You’ve got plenty to choose from.

     
  • The cover of the book Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors

    Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors

    After selecting your bookstore/s, we must discuss readings. Yes, some writers adore the attention of a public event, while others (most, I think) find them to be nerve-wracking spirit-crushing torture fests. Luckily, the wonderful Kate Gavino captures them in Last Night’s Reading with charm and artfulness—but most importantly because Gavino draws some well-established authors, who are by now to a certain degree used to such performances, her illustrations show the fan’s side of things, which should inspire and encourage young writers nervous at taking their place at the podium. Readers are listening! They’re interested in what you have to say! Each of Gavino’s drawings is accompanied by a quote from the subject. Here’s my favorite, from Donna Tartt: “If you’re not enjoying something, it’s almost always because you’re doing it too fast.” So don’t let your nerves get the best of you; take a moment and heed Tartt’s advice. Enjoy the reading, if you can!

     
  • The cover of the book Ursula K. Le Guin: The Last Interview

    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Last Interview

    One thing a writer can’t avoid is the interview. Sometimes irksome, sometimes challenging, sometimes exhilarating, but always necessary, the interview can be approached in myriad ways. The Last Interview series, because the books present the final interview with each subject, feature people who’ve mastered the tête-à-tête. A fascinating glimpse into the final period of artists like Ursula K. Le Guin, Graham Greene, Nora Ephron, and Roberto Bolaño, et al, this series is a must for anyone interested in the art of conversation.

     
  • The cover of the book Parisian Lives

    Parisian Lives

    With all this writing, we sometimes forget that authors live real human lives. In Parisian Lives, Bair takes us into the world of two of the 20th century’s most striking and brilliant voices, thereby showing that even the most austere or impossibly cerebral writers are also normal people with everyday desires, needs, and behaviors.

     
  • The cover of the book The Destiny Thief

    The Destiny Thief

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls collects eleven essays on various aspects of craft, character, and living the scribbler existence. Informative, honest, and elegant, Russo’s The Destiny Thief is a must for any wannabe.

     
  • The cover of the book Daemon Voices

    Daemon Voices

    The international bestselling author of the beloved His Dark Materials series, Pullman, like Russo, offers a master class on creating effective and evocative narratives. Here he not only gives advice on writing, but also delves into the artists and figures who inspired his work.

     
  • The cover of the book A Writer's Life

    A Writer's Life

    For the past quarter century, the Writers’ Trust of Canada has commissioned talks from some of the country’s most preeminent authors—including Timothy Findlay, Mavis Gallant, Alistair MacLeod, and Margaret Atwood—on the subject of “the writer’s life.” Collected together in a wonderful anthology, these lectures bring extraordinary insight to what it means to be a steward of the written word.

     
  • The cover of the book A Writer's Life

    A Writer's Life

    One of the 20th century’s most revered journalists (from his groundbreaking profile of Frank Sinatra in 1966 to his monumental book on the New York Times), Gay Talese, in A Writer’s Life, takes aim at himself, and the result is just as brilliant and perceptive as anything the master nonfiction writer ever produced.

     
  • The cover of the book On Writing

    On Writing

    Like all of her writing, Eudora Welty’s vital handbook for fiction writing—the of course economically titled On Writing—is concise, to the point, and deeply authoritative, all while being an absolute joy to read. For those looking for insights into the construction of fiction, On Writing is a necessary work.

     
  • The cover of the book On Writing

    On Writing

    One of the most original and beguiling fiction writers to ever live, Jorge Luis Borges, in this collection of pieces, takes you behind the scenes of his innovative and inimitable stories. Filled with surprising candor and masterful wit, On Writing is sure to charm as much as it enlightens.

     
  • The cover of the book Joseph Anton

    Joseph Anton

    Not everyone’s going to like what you write; in fact, some may even believe you evil or immoral for something you’ve written. In Salman Rushdie’s fascinating memoir Joseph Anton, the true heart of it focuses on what happened after the Ayatollah Khomeini for writing his novel The Satanic Verses. The book is riveting not just for the story of what Rushdie had to go through (intense security, safe house confinement), but how it changed Rushdie as a person and a writer.