Here a Book. There a Book. (Penny Rader)

What research/non-fiction book or magazine has helped you the most as a writer and/or a person?  That's our topic for March.  

I can't imagine a world without books.  Just being in the same space as them brings me peace and joy, comfort and strength.

Research book of all kinds thrill me with the possibilities of what I might learn.  Books sharing knowledge about the craft of writing.  Self-help books.  How-to books.  So many books, so hard to narrow down which one non-fiction book has had the greatest impact on me.  Really?  Just one?  Can't do it, so I hope you don't mind if I go with three instead of just one.  

Writing Romance Fiction for Love and Money by Helene Schellenberg Barnhart.  Sadly, it's long out of print now, but it really opened my eyes to what's involved in writing a book.  Ms. Barnhart's many examples made me giddy with the knowledge that maybe, just maybe I could write the type of book I so loved to read.  Actually, I read and re-read this book so many times and took so many notes (copious notes in a stack of 70 page spiral notebooks!) that no one else in town was able to borrow this book from the library for months.  My baby sis and I took turns checking it out, one after another.  A few years later I was able to buy my own copy and highlighted it to my heart's content.

Next we have Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  There's a short essay for every day.  I have read this book several times over the years and each time I discover a new gem.  I have given countless copies of this book to women and teens for birthdays, graduation, Christmas.

Two of my favorite entries:
"Just for Today" prayer (February 29)
The Poetry Prescription (August 22)

Oh, and speaking of books I give to women and teens, I think every woman and teen (and guys, too!) should read The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker. The subtitle is And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence.  I dare you to read it.  You won't be able to stop after the first chapter.  I wish I'd read this book when I was 18.  I might've had the smarts to escape a scary situation unscathed.   Write suspense?  This will be a wonderful resource for you.

I could talk about books all day, but I'll stop now.  What research/non-fiction book has helped you most as a writer and/or a person?


R. E. Mullins said...

The Diary of Samuel Pepys. He lived in England during the 1600's and has been a valuable resource. I write vampire/romance and consequently need to reference their early lives. Samuel Pepys give a clear and authentic insight into life during the plague, great fire of London and other historical events.

Penny Rader said...

What fun, R.E.! While working on my historical I read journals from early Americans, hoping I'd get a better feel for Colonial America. Some of the entries just cracked me up. Once I realized what 'rogering' and 'piles' were, I spent a lot of time giggling while reading them. Thanks for visiting!

LInda Joyce said...

I don't have any of those books. Will check them out.

Thanks for the tips.


Linda Joyce

Penny Rader said...

You're quite welcome, Linda. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Joanie said...

Great post, Penny, and now I have new books to look for, too. If I had to pick a favorite as a writer, I would go with Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott just because of her stories that tell us it's okay to not write great the first, second, third, fourth...and so on times. Outside of writing I have to admit I love pulling out The Secret by Rhonda Byrne because even though I feel we make our own luck in life, it's just so wonderful to pick up a book that gives out a positive vibe on every page. Sometimes I just need that. :)

Penny Rader said...

Hi Joanie! Bird by Bird is an awesome book. Two of my favorite takeaways are the sh*tty first draft and the 1" picture frame. Oh, and the story behind the title of the book. Thanks for sharing.

Maddy said...

God has a dream by Desmond Tutu - I have an audio book [audible]. Hearing his calm considered words calms me, safe in the certainty that there is a purpose to everything.

Stephanie_C said...

On a personal level, 'Simple Abundance' would be one of my top picks too. As a writer, I'd pick Julia Cameron's 'The Right to Write'.

Ilona Fridl said...

I read so many books on starting a career in writing, it's hard to pin one down. How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James Frey was a good one.
I love to research. I guess that's why I like to write historicals.

Joan Vincent said...

You've a great point about the computer and writing, Penny! I wrote my first eight books in long hand and then typed them, and re-typed. I remember the biggest nightmare was when I had to make a change in the final draft of a book and then had to retype the rest of it if the change threw it onto a new page.