Most writers will tell you that in order to write well, you can’t ever stop reading.  But sometimes, I do.  I can get so caught up with a draft of a book that I don’t read anything else for months.  Those actually weren’t my most productive months, though.

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I’ll be using this page to recommend books to people, and I’ll say WHY for each one.  You don’t have to be an urban fantasy, magical realism, and poetry writer to agree with my taste, because I do have varied taste (and you should, too).  Sometimes reading something I expect to be boring is exactly what I need as a lesson in dialogue or vernacular, or just good writing.  I’ll update this list as often as I can, and I won’t be reviewing here, just giving a few reasons why a book or series would be a great teacher.

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To prequel my ongoing list with book covers, here’s a short list of my favorite authors/books of all time (genres range from fiction to memoir to poetry to children’s books):

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Jeanette Winterson (in particular The Passion, Written on the Body, and Lighthousekeeping)

Michael Ondaatje (in particular Running in the Family and The English Patient)

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Anne Sexton (everything)

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Neil Gaiman (in particular Neverwhere, Coraline, Blueberry Girl, and The Wolves in the Walls)

Charles DeLint (in particular Wolf Moon, The Onion Girl, and Moonheart)

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

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Sailing Books I adore:

Sensible Cruising:  The Thoreau Approach by Don Casey and Lew Hackler 

The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier

The Case for the Cruising Trimaran by Jim Brown

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Books on Writing:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The Writer’s Journey:  Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing by Richard Hugo

The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises for Poets who Teach by Robin Behn

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chaos-walking-trilogy    Chaos Walking Trilogy, by Patrick Ness

Read this for a serious lesson in vernacular, human nature, the work of achieving peace between vastly different cultures, and in creating male and female characters that do not adhere to stereotypes.  It’s also wonderful for first person style writing that switches between main characters (something I’m planning to do with my current series as well).

I don’t typically like sci-fi or genre fiction, if it isn’t literary to some degree.  This author’s style is simple and straightforward yet poetic in just the right places.  I might even say this is my favorite trilogy of all time (maybe even as good and as universally important as Lord of the Rings?).

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silverlinings Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

This book is incredibly important for Americans to be reading right now, because it deals with mental illness and messy relationships, but it is filled with HOPE.

The narrator’s voice is soothing to me.  He doesn’t just sound like a great character, but a long-time, loyal friend.

My advice for books that become movies is always to read them first.

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endersgameEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Supposedly, this is one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time.  I’ve just read it recently, and this is definitely a book I thought would be boring.  It wasn’t.  The dialogue was especially good, but so was the child-perspective and the desperation of the adults.  This book reminded me a little of the Chaos Walking trilogy, a little of Hunger Games, and even a little of Harry Potter, so if you’ve enjoyed those, you’d probably appreciate this one, too .

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