I learn more by reading good writing than I do studying how to write. Theories and plot structures can only get a manuscript so far. If you’ve been feeling stuck in your own writing, consider picking up a book with writing that you cherish. Here are five books that had a positive impact on my own writing in 2020:

  1. Scary Stories for Young Foxes – Christian McKay Heidicker

Heidicker is a gifted storyteller with evident love for his readers. He has crafted a book that I hope to revisit every year around Halloween. He doesn’t shy away from suspense, but instead instills within his readers the courage to face the darkness. The main characters Uly and Mia undergo beautiful transformations as they overcome evil in the Antler Wood. On top of all this, Heidicker has also successfully pulled off a unique weaving of multiple viewpoints and character arcs. I highly recommend this book for writers to study character development and sense of place.

2. Greenlights – Matthew McConaughey

I highly recommend this as an audiobook. The anecdotes, reflections, and bumper stickers have a great impact when shared in the author’s voice. I was fully entertained from start to finish. McConaughey is not just an actor who wrote a memoir to make a quick buck—he is a compelling writer. He has taken experiences from his own life and frames them in a way that is engaging, moving, and downright hilarious at times. Writers who pick up this book or audiobook can learn about voice, using real-life experiences as inspiration, and how to pace humor. 

3. If You’re Reading This – Trent Reedy

The initial premise of this book is intriguing, and the story increasingly pays off as it goes on. The plot is far from predictable, and the diversity of characters is refreshing. The author approaches topics like war, xenophobia, and grief through the eyes of a likable narrator. If you are writing a Young Adult novel and want an example of how to avoid high school cliches and write about meaningful topics, this book is it.

4. Everything Is Figureoutable – Marie Forleo

Sometimes you need to read a book that will give you a hug and a kick in the pants at the same time. Marie’s experiences and motivational points were a potent recipe for an uplifting read. While this book is largely geared towards entrepreneurs, as a writer I found myself inspired to move forward with my vision for my manuscript. Writers can greatly benefit from approaching problems in their manuscript with the belief that everything is figureoutable. Pick this book up when you need encouragement and motivation.

5. The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein

Oh, this book, this book. It was published back in 2008, and I have read it at least 3 times since then, including again this year. Enzo is the most endearing narrator I have ever had the pleasure to read. The formatting and short reflections make this book visually pleasant, and quickly absorbed. Every time I read this book, I walk away inspired by Stein’s scenes. Read this if you want to learn more about excellent pacing and writing emotion into your scenes.

If you’re a writer or someone who is curious about storytelling, join my email list to be alerted when new blog posts arrive. Happy writing!

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