Monthly reading list: August 2019

bookcoverLike most writers, I’m a voracious reader. I consume books like an unsupervised 7-year-old consumes Pop Tarts. I read all kinds of books and in all kinds of formats (unlike my Pop Tart habit. There is only one kind of Pop Tart worth eating–Brown Sugar Cinnamon. Fight me.) I’m also one of those nerdy people who is highly motivated by measurements, so I do the Goodreads Reading Challenge every year. I just logged in to view the list of books I read in August and was horrified to find that I’m 2 books behind my annual goal. I guess I know what I’m doing for the rest of today. The vacuuming will have to wait–I’m behind on my reading.

So here’s what I read in August. Hopefully September’s list will be longer.

Books about Writing

The Writer’s Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and TaboosKathy Steinemann and Stuart Aken (Kindle ebook). This book was depressing, only because it revealed just how much is still wrong with my novel in progress. My characters nod, smile, and laugh pretty much constantly. This book provided some great tips for turning those characters into something other than bobbleheads on happy pills. And if you want more practical advice on improving your writing, there’s a volume 2, which I just started reading, plus Kathy Steinemann’s excellent blog. See, for example, her two posts on Writing Rules: When Can You Break Them? (Rules 1-6, Rules 7-10)

How to Tell a Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating TalesPeter Rubie (hardcover from the library I work in). I found some excellent advice here on plot, character, point of view, and more. My favorite quote: “The story is not what happens. The story is who it happens to.”

The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors –  Anne R. Allen (Kindle ebook). This book inspired me to create an author blog! This author blog! Allen offers excellent practical advice for creating a blog and building an online identity and reputation. I plan to return to her book many times as I tiptoe into the author blog-iverse. Allen’s own blog is an excellent resource for writers. My favorite recent post is The Decline of Mainstream Fiction: Why Authors Need a Genre in Today’s Fragmented Publishing World, in which Allen provides astute insights into changes in publishing and which types of fiction do best as indie-published vs. traditional.

Your Novel, Day by Day: A Fiction Writer’s CompanionMary Anna Evans (print, purchased). This book contains 365 essays, from the very short to a page or two. It’s designed to be read while writing the first draft of a novel, a page a day for one year. Evans talks about craft, but what I loved most about this book was the feeling of having a kind (but stern when necessary) mentor keeping me company as I wrote. I didn’t read the book as designed, but I may do so when I start my second novel.


The President is Missing – Bill Clinton and James Patterson (audiobook from Overdrive, courtesy of my public library). Fairly formulaic thriller but a fun read. I enjoyed seeing Patterson employ various plot techniques I’ve read about.

Final WitnessJames Scott Bell (Kindle ebook). James Scott Bell is well-known in the writer world for his excellent books on fiction writing, so it was interesting to read an example of his fiction. The book was well-plotted (I would expect nothing less) and an entertaining read, though I didn’t always fully engage with the characters. There’s a good bit of overt Christianity in the book as well, which may be off-putting to some non-religious readers.

Carte Blanche (James Bond – Extended Series #45) – Jeffery Deaver (audiobook from Overdrive, courtesy of my public library). I love Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme novels, and I’ve been a James Bond fan since college, so I was excited to listen to this one. It took a little while to get into, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. It has a great classic Bond villain and puts Bond in modern times. Fun read.

Fatal Voyage (Temperance Brennan #4) – Kathy Reichs (audiobook from Overdrive, courtesy of my public library). I just discovered Kathy Reichs this year (yeah, I know, I live under a rock), and I love her storytelling. This one took me a little time to get into–a problem I seem to have with audiobooks more than print–but was worth the patience required.