Books I Recommend on Writing

On Writing and Editing

Bird by Bird (Pantheon, 1994) By Anne Lamott Lamott’s reflections on the writing process in this slim volume are comforting and practical. I cannot count how many times I’ve recommended this book to scientists, poets, and students of creative writing (and how many times they have reported back that they found it helpful).

My Dyslexia  (W.W. Norton, 2011) By Philip Schultz This memoir by Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Philip Schultz offers an illuminating and insightful account of what it was like to grow up with undiagnosed dyslexia and how the experience shaped him as a person and a writer.  Though his learning disorder was  identified only late in life, he convincingly conveys how the way his brain processes language shaped the way he eventually learned to read and write, as well as his own self-image.  A must-read for writers with dyslexia and parents and teachers of dyslexic children.

The Subversive Copyeditor: Advice from Chicago By Carol Fisher Saller (Chicago UP, 2009) I wish I had read this wise little book from veteran University of Chicago manuscript editor before I began working as an editor and writing coach.  Saller’s reflections are funny, generous, and, dead-on.  This book is useful for both editors and authors for the light Saller sheds on the editorial process and the art of communication about communication.

Thinking like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Non-fiction and Get it Published Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato (Norton, 2002) For researchers who aspire to reach a broader audience, this book offers essential insights into the process of working with agents and moving gracefully between argument and story.

The Writer’s Home Companion: An Anthology of the World’s Best Writing Advice Edited by Joan Bloker (Henry Holt, 1997). This anthology compiled by the writer of the classic book for graduate students, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes A Day, is simply terrific. The wisdom offered by diverse writers here on the practice of their craft will take you a long way. And Bloker’s book on dissertation writing, by the way, is worth reading for any writer working on a long, complex project.


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