The question of what writers read, and how they read, kept coming up in the days following the publication of my new book, “The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English.”
“Which other books on writing would you buy?” asked one reporter at a book festival.
“Which books did you read in order to prepare yourself to write your book?” messaged another.
“You’re alone on a desert island,” asked an Irish radio host, “and you can only have two books. What would they be?”
I had to think hard when the Barnes & Noble website invited me to describe three writing and language books that I could recommend to others. I could only name three books, and I had many other candidates.
My dilemma was whether I should name books that offered direct writing strategies, such as “The Elements of Style,” or ones that provided inspiring literary examples, such as “The Great Gatsby.” In fact, most writers I know like to draw from both sources — from books that describe and explain the technical aspects of language — but also from works of literature, read not only for their themes, characters and content, but also as an X-ray through which an expert writer reveals his or her best strategies. Read more