Book reading is one of the bases of a person’s creative and spiritual health, especially if such reading consists of sourcing knowledge from some of the most powerful, timeless books. Seeing how important writing is in today’s world, everyone needs to make a certain bound that will improve their relationship with words. In order to do this, you have to at least carefully read the words of those who have shared the most inspiring texts for exactly this purpose – to enrich people in terms of both writing and reading. Here is what the top nine book choices for writing and reading list would look like.
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
How to Read a Book is a timeless guide that originates since the year of 1940. After it was originally written by Mortimer Adler, it was again revised with the help of Charles van Doren in the year of 1972. One cannot exactly classify this book as a guide to reading textbook, poetry, fiction or science books, since it has every possible quality combined into one.
This book is not criticizing or presenting a literary theory. The main aim of the author is to help people understand the dimensions and levels of reading. According to Adler, people can only truly read if they understand what they own:
“Successful communication occurs in any case where what the writer wanted to have received finds its way into the reader’s possession. “
Chapter 2 of the book discusses the levels of reading every person must know. According to the writer, people need to have basic reading literacy, which is learned in elementary school and applies to understanding the meaning of a sentence.
The second level is called inspectional reading, which allows people to get the most out of the text they read.
The third level is the analytical reading, which is the time when the readers actually digest the book and work on understanding it.
The final level is the syntopical reading, which at the same time is the most complex one. In order to understand and enter this level, the reader must be able to compare books and construct an understanding that is not clearly stated in anything they have read. This level consists of making connections between what is said and what is not said in the books they are reading.
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ― Mortimer J. Adler
Therefore, the first in our list is a book that reveals not only the secrets of reading, but of cognitive science too. This psychology is crucial in the processing of information.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
If you are a fan of Stephen King’s work, you will not be surprised that he has yet another bestseller under his belt and this one is exactly on the point of writing as a powerful craft for everyone and everything.
The name lists this book among memoirs, but it is not all it represents. The ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ is a master-blueprint and a representation of a life of a writer that has a new understanding of living.
This particular book has received numerous positive reviews among which the most powerful is the one by Roger Ebert.
“After finding that his book On Writing had more useful and observant things to say about the craft than any book since Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, I have gotten over my own snobbery.”
This review clearly points out to the skepticism people had for the book before it was published, anticipating an untrue version of writing written by the hands of another popular writer.
What came out of the hands of King’s was a masterpiece – a perfectly crafted revealing of the writer’s craft, combined with the advice from a highly experienced writer who has spoken of his vivid memories:
”Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White
Written by William Strunk and E.B. White and illustrated by Maira Kalman, The Elements of Style is a truly indispensable guide. The original book was first published in 1919 and right now, this is one of the most powerful graphic nonfiction guides to be found.
This particular manual of style gives some practical advice in terms of writing. It is a small book, but can provide a grand aid in learning how to communicate effectively.
“If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, say it loud! … Why compound ignorance with inaudibility?”– William Strunk
‘ The mind travels faster than the pen; consequently, writing becomes a question of learning to make occasional wing shots, bringing down the bird of thought as it flashes by. A writer is a gunner, sometimes waiting in the blind for something to come in, sometimes roaming the countryside hoping to scare something up.” – E.B. White
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
It so often happens that people struggle with inner battles and need some guide to help them get over it. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is exactly that – a timeless guide that helps you reveal the fears and understand how to fight them.
‘Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
The book was published in 2002 as a non-fiction book that highlights resistance that people are faced with. Being as popular and amazing as it is, there is also a follow up named ‘Do the Work’.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Non-fiction guide and a modern philosophy intertwined in one is what Anne Lamott shared with her readers in 1994. We are listing yet another classic in the form of a practical guide where the author shares both her mind and heart insights:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
The words of Lammot express an experience of what a life of a writer looks like and teaches people on how to write. This is a step-by-step guide written to teach you on ‘Short Assignments’, ‘Characters’, ‘Plot’, ‘Shitty First Drafts’, all up to the point of ‘How Do You Know When You’re Done’.
Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius within You by Ray Bradbury
Reading Bradbury’s book means learning the qualities one must possess as a writer. This is a timeless, exuberant book of shared experience and wisdom for the power of writing.
“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”
In the book, Bradbury has shared tips on finding the ideas for writing and sharing them through an individual, own voice. Aside from the guide part, the author has given readers an insight of his remarkable career:
“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish
A professor called Stanley Fish has crafted an incredibly helpful, entertaining and timeless book that has reached the point of being a New York Times bestseller. This is not just a manual for writing – it is a key to understanding writing, drawn on the lives of great writers like Jane Austen and Philip Roth.
“In his great book How to Do Things with Words (1962), J.L. Austin considers the apparently simple sentence “France is hexagonal.” He asks if this is true or false, a question that makes perfect sense if the job of a sentence is to be faithful to the world. His answer is that it depends. If you are a general contemplating a coming battle, saying that France is hexagonal might help you assess various military options of defense and attack; it would be a good sentence. But if you are a geographer charged with the task of mapping France’s contours, saying that France is hexagonal might cost you your union card; a greater degree of detail and fineness of scale is required of mapmakers. “France is hexagonal,” Austin explains, is true “for certain intents and purposes” and false or inadequate or even nonsensical for others. It is, he says, a matter of the “dimension of assessment” — that is, a matter of what is the “right or proper thing to say as opposed to a wrong thing in these circumstances, to this audience, for these purposes and with these intentions.”
When speaking of Fish’s How to Write a Sentence, we are speaking of something that must be on your home library shelf and in your mind if you want to learn how to write from a guide that picks some of the most powerful thoughts that ever existed. Fish has actually chosen some of the most important sentences of people like Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Shakespeare and has used them in one of the best guides for writing to be found.
“…words so precisely placed that in combination with other words, also precisely placed, they carve out a shape in space and time.”
Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights by Jon Winokur
Originally published in 1999, this book is your incredibly rich source on information on how to write. Winokur has crafted a compendium of some of the most important and helpful anecdotes and quotes, which combined together, show a unity of knowledge on how to cover plot, grammar, genres,characters and every other little bit of the powerful force of writing.
The book lists the words of more than 400 authors and creates an endless source of the deepest thoughts in the world of writing. Here are some quotes:
‘The reason it’s worth standing up for punctuation is not that it’s an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive elite who have attacks of the vapors when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning’ – Lynne Truss
‘Find what gave you emotion; what the action was that gave you excitement. Then write it down making it clear so that the reader can see it too. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.’ – Ernest Hemingway
‘Write every day, line-by-line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world’ – Robert McKee.
‘That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you are not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong’ – F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Phillips
Even though Hemingway is known to be against talking about writing, he could not spend his amazing career without sharing any thoughts about writing in his stories, letters to fans and editors, interviews and even novels. About the belief of Hemingway in terms of speaking of writing, Phillips has said ‘ takes off whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk’s feathers if you show it or talk about it.” However, this opinion somewhat failed Hemingway since still, after his death, we can enjoy his thoughts on writing.
Larry W. Phillips has decided to take matter into his own hands and gather the finest, most profound thoughts Hemingway has had on writing, combined with the most important element of his life.
“In truly good writing no matter how many times you read it you do not know how it is done. That is because there is a mystery in all great writing and that mystery does not dis-sect out. It continues and it is always valid. Each time you re-read you see or learn something new.”– Ernest Hemingway.
Speaking from the point of Hemingway’s life and personality, Philips creates a guide of everything you need to know about habits and discipline in terms of writing. Here are a few more thoughts of one of the most popular writers in the world:
“The hardest thing in the world to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn…”– Ernest Hemingway.
“…Writing is something that you can never do as well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult than anything else that I have ever done—so I do it. And it makes me happy when I do it well.”– Ernest Hemingway.
“Don’t let yourself slip and get any perfect characters… keep them people, people, people, and don’t let them get to be symbols.”– Ernest Hemingway.
So, which one will you choose first? In order to understand writing, you need to understand the importance of it and learn what it has to offer. And what better way to do this but with the help of those who have mastered the craft and created never-ending, timeless masterpieces that will remain in the hands of every book lover till the end of time?