During lunch conversation Tuesday at the Evangelical Press Association convention, I was asked, “Other than your own book, what are your favorite books on writing?”
Here’s what came to mind, in no particular order. They aren’t all about writing. Some of these deconstruct the feature writing process, and others simply inspire because they are so well-written and reported:
- The Art and Craft of Feature Writing, by William E. Blundell. Deconstructs the Wall Street Journal’s method.
- Writing for Story, by Jon Franklin. How to apply great literary techniques to nonfiction.
- Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer. Good reporting solves a mystery and produces a haunting tale of youthful idealism and a search for truth. Sean Penn’s film is as good as the book.
- Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call. It’s a series of essays by great journalists, and it will remind you why you became a writer.
- Going Deep: 20 Classic Sports Stories, by Gary Smith. Maybe the best magazine writer ever.
- Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand. Incredibly detailed reporting and reconstructing a lifetime of scenes. Huge payoff at the end.
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller. Seeing all of life as story.
- A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. A long hike as a framework for sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant essays about friendship, America and nature’s splendor.
What books inspire you to write great stories?