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There’s No More Time To Shop: Here’s a List of Books to Buy Anyway!

All of the titles mentioned in this blog post (with the exception of out-of-print books) can be found here: – Look under the category, “2012 List” (I know. Some of you don’t like Amazon. That’s fine. You can buy these books anywhere you choose to buy them. Thanks.)

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It is Christmas Eve Day and if you haven’t finished buying gifts for the special writer in your life (or, yourself) then it’s too late!

This isn’t one of those, “Hurry, it’s your last chance to buy something!” posts. This is a, “When the dust of the commercialized Holidays has settled, you can check out this list, and see if it is helpful to you,” kind of post.

What List is This Which Laid to Rest on Eric’s Desk is Waiting?

At the end of my Fictions Basics and Legacy of Words classes this quarter, I passed out a list of some of the books I’ve found useful and influential the last few years. I compiled this list because I was getting a number of questions like: What have you been reading? What books do you recommend? What should I buy next? Etc.

Because the two courses are very different, in one sense, but also overlap, in another, I compiled one list for the students.

I also gathered all of the books together in my Amazon-powered, personalized electronic bookstore. You can find those links above.

If you want to buy anything from this list, you can buy it there in the online bookstore, or, you can just use the links to see product descriptions, read reviews, and decide if you want your local bookstore to order it for you. Most of the books will even let you read a few pages before you decide.

Ten Novels from MFA

I read a lot more than ten novels during my MFA years, obviously, but these were the ten that really stuck with me:

  1. Hot Springs, Geoffrey Becker

  2. Room, Emma Donoghue

  3. As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

  4. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

  5. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

  6. The Boy, Naeem Murr

  7. Empire Falls, Richard Russo

  8. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

  9. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

  10. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Ten Novels – 2012

If you’ve been following the blog, you also know I’ve read way more than ten novels this year. These are the ten that I read in 2012 that influenced me the most, regardless of year of publication:

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

  2. Spartina, John Casey

  3. What the Zhang Boys Know, Clifford Garstang

  4. The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

  5. To the End of the Land, David Grossman

  6. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

  7. The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey

  8. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri

  9. The Piano Teacher, Janice YK Lee

  10. Nude, Naeem Murr

Five Non-Fiction – 2012

Like the fiction list above, these are the top five non-fiction books that impacted my literary sensibilities in 2012:

  1. The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, Matt Baglio

  2. Life at the Bottom, Theodore Dalrymple

  3. The Privileged Planet, Gonzalez and Richards

  4. Subliminal, Leonard Mlodinow

  5. The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. 1 (Various)

Five Poetry – 2012

One of my goals for this year was to read more poetry, both books about writing poetry AND actual collections. I’m really, really glad I read these beautiful books:

  1. Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems, Yehuda Amichai

  2. Poems of the Night, Jorge Luis Borges

  3. On the Street Where We Live, Kelly Fordon

  4. The Goodbye Child, Dominique Traverse Locke

  5. Selected Poems, Fernando Pessoa

Three Books on Writing – 2012

I read, and have read, a lot of books about the craft and process of writing. These three stood out to me, this year:

  1. Revision and Self Editing, James Scott Bell

  2. Writing 21st Century Fiction, Donald Maas

  3. Writing About Your Life, William Zinsser

Books With Fiction Writing Prompts

Fiction students often ask me which books I recommend for writing prompts. These are the ones I use most often:

  1. Now Write, Sherry Ellis

  2. What If? by Anne Bernays

  3. 3 AM Epiphany, Brian Kiteley

  4. Steering the Craft, Ursula K Leguin

Books I Used to Create My Fiction Writing Curriculum

I rely heavily on these books when I’m teaching Fiction Basics classes:

  1. Creating Fiction, Leebron and Levy

  2. Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway

  3. Fiction Writing Workshop, Josip Novakovich

  4. Becoming a Writer, Dorthea Brande

Books I Used to Create My Legacy Writing Curriculum

These are the books I rely on for my Legacy of Words classes:

  1. Legacy, Linda Spencer

  2. Writing About Your Life, William Zinsser

  3. Your Life as Story, Tristine Rainer

Two Great Books, No Matter What You Are Writing

  1. Write Tight, William Brohaugh

  2. It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences, June Casagrande

I don’t know if you will find this list helpful, but I hope you do. If you have other suggestions, or just want to share some of your favorite books with readers of this blog, feel free to leave a comment or two in the “comments” section, below.

Thanks for reading, and happy writing!

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