Recommended Reading For 2023

On a recent Story Copywriter Community call we discussed some books I’ve read recently. At the risk of over-extending your reading list I thought I’d share the conversation:

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Recommended books I read last year (that relate to writing):

– The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places (Neil Oliver)

Place is one of the tools in your storytelling toolkit (and something I should record a podcast about). You can always write about where you live, where you’ve been and where you came from. This book provides a deep-time history of human life on the British Isles told through 100 places.

– Footnotes (Peter Fiennes)

Fiennes explores various corners of the United Kingdom, accompanied by (mostly) long dead writers who also wrote about their experiences in the same regions. Again, I think this is a clever play on the concept of place. It’s also a reminder that you can take other people’s stories as inspiration to complement your own.

– Words Are My Matter (Ursula K. Le Guin)

Ursula Le Guin was both an outstanding novelist and deep thinker. Last year I read her novel The Dispossessed, which I simultaneously found to be challenging and also one of the best things I’ve ever read.

Words Are My Matter is a collection of essays about writing and the creative process. It’s notable in the book that Le Guin spends a lot of time describing place – the house she grew up in.

– The Seven Basic Plots (Christopher Booker)

I re-read large sections of this mighty tome while preparing the 7-plots podcast series. I still think the whole book is outstanding (especially the final part).

Upcoming on the reading list I have The Anatomy of Genres (John Truby), Story (Robert McKee). I also have The Unpublished David Ogilvy eyeballing me from the bookshelf. (I’m sorry David, I’m getting to you!)

What’s on your reading list this year?


P.S. In non-work reading I’ve recently read two excellent books on war by Chris Hedges (War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and The Greatest Evil Is War.) Both are hard-hitting and profound. I’m partway through The New Rulers of the World (by John Pilger) and also Lies My Government Told Me (Robert Malone). I probably need to go for a massage and read some Anthony Trollope or something!

P.P.S. The next Story Copywriter community call is this Friday. If writing is part of your plans this year it would be great to have you in the community. We’ll keep you writing and keep you unstuck. Plus you get unsolicited book recommendations!

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