I recently had the good fortune to attend Calvin College’s Festival of Faith & Writing, a three-day conference that draws thousands of writers from all over the world. They always have a great line-up of speakers and I am super glad that I was able to go (Thank you Baker Publishing Group!).
One of the things that I have learned by attending writers conferences is that writers tend to talk about specific books and authors as though every good writer has read them. If reading these books is a prerequisite to being a good writer, I’ve got some reading to do.
Here’s that list:
- Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
- Anything by Flannery O’Connor
- Anything by Emily Dickinson
- The Giver – Lois Lowry
- Stein On Writing – Sol Stein
- Writing Fiction – Janet Burroway
- Anything by Art Spiegelman
And then there are the books that are either written by the speakers or recommended by the speakers. I have a feeling that writers would do well to read these too:
- American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang
- Boxers & Saints – Gene Luen Yang
- Same Difference – Derek Kirk Kim
- Idiot Psalms – Scott Cairns
- Charles and Emma – Deborah Heiligman
- Intentions – Deborah Heiligman
- The Way of Man – Martin Buber
- Esperanza Rising – Pam Munoz Ryan
- The Dreamer – Pam Munoz Ryan
- Not That Kind of Girl – Carlene Bauer
- Frances and Bernard – Carlene Bauer
- The American Way of Death Revisited – Jessica Mitford
- Let Us Now Praise Famous Men – James Agee & Walker Evans
- The Powers – Valerie Sayers
- Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street – Herman Melville
- The Gift of Being Yourself – David Benner
- Finder – Carla Speed McNeil
- Throne of the Crescent Moon – Saladin Ahmed
- The Girl with All the Gifts – M. R. Carey
- Alif the Unseen – G. Willow Wilson
- True Grit – Charles Portis
As you can see, it is quite a reading list. At the very least, I should probably read Bird by Bird and something by Flannery O’Connor lest they kick me out of the next writers conference I attend. We’ll see about the rest.
Have you read anything on this list that you’d put at the top of my stack?
Do you think I’m missing a book?