September 7, 2010

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.

Join us Thursday, Sept. 9, at 3 p.m. for a live chat on this topic. Be prepared to ask questions about books that may help you accomplish your specific task or mission, and to bring your own recommendations to the table so we all can share and learn. “See” you Thursday.

Twitterers can tweet questions to #poynterchats before or during the chat. You can revisit this link at any time to replay the chat after it has ended.

<a href=”″ >What Books Can Help Me Be a Better Writer?</a>

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Roy Peter Clark has taught writing at Poynter to students of all ages since 1979. He has served the Institute as its first full-time faculty…
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