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Good Books to Read for Business & Pleasure * July 2015

Reading That Helps You Write

Lately I have been reading with the intention of becoming a better writer.

Content marketers, branding experts, and, of course, writing teachers, will tell you how important it is to tell a good story. In everything I’ve been reading I’ve been trying to find the story, or at least figure out what makes a piece of writing more or less successful.

In this, the July Good Books to Read for Business & Pleasure, I’ll tell you how each book (or magazine) I’ve read has helped me become a better writer.

Business

The Atlantic Monthly by Various High Quality Writers, Contributors, and Editors.

I decided to start reading The Atlantic Monthly because I wanted to keep up with current events, get inspiration for stories, and have a context for the stories I write. It seems that at least some fiction is improved when it is situated in a specific time and place. Some readers will get insight into their own histories, and others will learn about a time and place they haven’t experienced.

I have to admit that I find this daunting. An excellent writer, in addition to talented and hardworking, must be a thorough and energetic researcher. Fortunately, The Atlantic Monthly makes current events both interesting and compelling.

Pleasure

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.

I read The Husband’s Secret for pure entertainment. New York Times bestsellers rarely disappoint on the level of readability and good fun. These are books that tell a story. Story can be unfortunately elusive, and this difficulty is increased for someone like me who wants to write mémoir, which should be “true.” It finally hit me that telling the truth, if that means providing the facts, just isn’t enough. Facts strung together do not a story make.

The Husband’s Secret definitely tells a story. It is one of those books with complex, interwoven storylines that tend to impress me. It takes a lot of work, I’m sure, to keep the stories believable and magical at the same time. In this case, something about the mix of events, or maybe it was the characters and their motivations, bothered me. In the end, although I admire the book, I didn’t feel convinced.

Children

Ada: Legend of a Healer by R.A. McDonald.

I read children’s books to entertain and educate my children, spend some (increasingly rare) snuggle time with them, and also to learn more about story. I like to read a variety of books to them, but we always come back to action/adventure books that involve a lot of fight and chase scenes. This is good for me because my tendency is quite the opposite. I hope to soak in enough action/adventure to find a way to pick up the pace of the stories I want to tell and help my readers run with me. Life is, after all, an adventure.

Ada: Legend of a Healer, is a new take on action/adventure because the main character has a nonviolent super power, healing, as a well as an athletic skill anyone, in theory, could pick up. Her skill is parkour, which is a form of (often urban) obstacle course running. She uses both her powers and her parkour skills to escape from the people who want to enslave her for her healing powers and to survive numerous beatings. I enjoyed the Parisian setting of much of the book and the innocent love story that runs through it.

I noted distracting typos which caught my attention and made me think the book was self-published. As a probable future self-publisher, I love self-publishing. These mistakes alerted me to the importance of great proof reading. From context to detail, writing is a difficult art.

How about you? Do you read to help you write?

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