Shauna Niequist’s book recommendations for writers

Last week when we snooped Shauna Niequist’s bookshelves, I mentioned that Shauna exploded my reading list back in September when she rattled off a long list of books writers should be reading at Influence.

I should have known you’d want that list, and by some miracle, I found it.

Shauna believes writers should be reading, and reading often. They should identify three or four authors they consider personal touchstones, whose works they come back to and become familiar with. She specifically recommended Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose, because it unpacks what the author was doing in successful writing and why it works.

Shauna rattled off a list of recent personal favorites she’d been reading, and would recommend to other writers looking to read more with the goal of improving their writing. (This list was delivered off-the-cuff.)

Here’s the list, in order:

Shauna’s #1 pick: Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott. (Shauna says: “I want to be like her when I grow up.”)

• Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott.

• A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway.

Anything by Ruth Reichl, “the best living food writer, bar none.” Especially Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples.

• Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, for its unusual structure.

• Song of the Exile, Kiana Davenport.

 • The Language of FlowersVanessa Diffenbaugh.

• Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann.

• Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy, Sudhir Venkatesh.

If you’re a writer, I’d add Shauna’s books to that list: Bread and WineBittersweet, and Cold Tangerines.

Shauna also believes that too many writers and other artists create in isolation, which is why conferences are valuable. I’m on my way to the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids this week (with Anne Lamott!). I may be a little slow to respond to comments and email while I’m on the road, but I will respond.  (If you’ll be there, let me know!)

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