Books to Boost
Writer's Digest, June 2006
Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers, edited by Vendela Vida (Believer Books) Believer Books has collected 23 conversations and correspondences between writers and the writers they admire, and the result is an addictive read on insights to the creative mind. Dave Eggers talks with Joan Didion. Sean Wilsey talks with Haruki Murakami. ZZ Packer talks with Edward P. Jones. Zadie Smith talks with Ian McEwan. Their enthusiastic, honest and keen discernments on the writing life and the world we inhabit will inspire you and your writing, and will leave you aching for the ability to have similar conversations of your own.

99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style by Matt Madden (Chamberlain Bros.) This book, a graphical adaptation of Raymond Queneu's 1947 Les Exercices de style, tells the same story 99 different ways. The humdrum plot is this: A man closes his laptop, walks downstairs, tells someone what time it is, opens a refrigerator door and forgets why he's looking inside. Each page reveals the same story told in a different way. On one page it's a palindrome. On another, it's told as if overheard in a bar. It's even told from the viewpoint of the refrigerator. And so on. The genius of the book is in its ability to prove the inherent connections between form, content, style and substance and the weight each of these factors bear in a story. A great book to share with your writer friends, it will also exercise your brain and promote creativity.

Writing Brave & Free by Ted Kooser & Steve Cox (The University of Nebraska Press) Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and Editor/Publisher Steve Cox wrote this book with the intention to encourage those who haven't written but want to write. Are you already a writer? Then this is the book you pick up when you're stuck, frustrated, depressed or just plain procrastinating. Like a cheerleader who keeps on smiling no matter the score, this book is void of negativity—somewhat of a rarity in how-to writing books these days. The book begins with confirmation, then dismisses writing rules, offers tips on how to get started and, later, dives into the nuts and bolts of writing, all the while cheering you along. It's not elementary—it's refreshing. And Kooser's accessible, simple language shines through.

—Kara Gebhart Uhl