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I read a lot. Not surprising since I am a literature major and a writer, I suppose. However, it wasn’t until the last couple of years that I discovered the magic of non-fiction work. Now my reading time is divided almost evenly between fiction and non-fiction. I can’t get enough of reading about what other people have researched and lived.
I suppose that is also not surprising since writers tend to be life-long learners. And, two of my favorite ways to procrastinate are to do research and learn something new. Reading non-fiction does a little of both.
In the time since I began reading non-fiction, I’ve read a lot of books on writing, some good, some – well, let’s just say they didn’t help me. The good ones helped me improve. Sometimes they just helped motivate me to write, which is huge for someone who once proclaimed herself the Queen of Procrastination.
I also read a lot of non-fiction books that were not about writing, and to my surprise, these books helped my writing as well. Some of them improved my writing skills themselves, but most helped me create processes to improve output or develop compassion for myself when things didn’t work out quite as planned.
Here are five books I recommend for writers that aren’t about writing at all.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
Everything we hear is that we should niche down, we should become an expert, we should only promote one genre, we should, we should, we should…
This book turns that idea on its head by saying that having a range of experiences helps develop critical thinking skills and often allows for better examination of options and solutions.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book was more of a reminder for me than a revolutionary read. It makes the list because it provides practical information that could be easily implemented on how to create and sustain habits by building them up from nothing.
When we try to begin a new practice or habit, we often try to do too much at once which causes us to feel like we’ve failed. At least that is how I sometimes approach habits even though I know it is always better to start tiny. Start with picking up your pen and paper. Then move up from there.
Think Again by Adam Grant
This book is also not revolutionary, but it provides so many wonderful stories that prove the importance of not being stagnant in your thinking. It’s helpful for writers because we sometimes get stuck on one path of how to do something and we don’t always allow for another option. This book reminds us about the importance of thinking again.
Laziness Does Not Exist by Dr. Devon Price
This entire book delves into the idea of laziness and why people are not lazy. People are burnt out, stressed out, and sick. We’re doing the best we can and sometimes that isn’t good enough when measured by society. We need compassion for ourselves and others because none of us are lazy.
Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
Pretty much every word Brené Brown has written or uttered is food for the writer’s soul and for the writer’s manuscript (OK, not just a writer, anyone can benefit from her). Brené gives us insight into the human condition through her research on shame and vulnerability. This book, in particular, makes the list because it defines and gives precise language to our feelings and emotions. And writers love nothing more than to be precise about language.
Each one of these books improved my writing in some way. They may not have helped me create a plot or determine the best point of view for my story, but they are integral parts of my writing and personal journey.
Which books would you recommend for writers to read?