How to Get Professional Feedback on Your Writing O'Dell Isaac was a substitute teacher and military journalist who struggled for years to write a novel. A decade went by without any progress towards writing or publishing a book. Then, in November of 2018, he managed...
Annalisa’s Top Book Picks
And I practice what I preach.
For the writers over in the Writing Gym, we set goals and we put strategies in place to reach them.
Part of that should be your reading strategy. Because, of course, in order to be a good writer, you need to be reading.
Did I say that already? I think I did. I must mean it.
First, I wanted to share my top three nonfiction books.
- The Go-Giver Influencer by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
- My top pick. This book changed my life. It was exceptional. This is a book that I had to stop reading and think. So I read two pages and went, “Woah. That’s a big idea. I need to think through that.” There was a lot of journaling that happened. This book is about so much more than business, though it is also about business. This book is about how to live a quality life, how to problem solve, so that people can get along. And I think that this book is particularly important right now, right? We’re in a very contentious political situation. I’m not going to get into the details of that, but there are a lot of people who are having difficulty getting along with each other. If everybody read this book, maybe things would be a little bit better. I highly, highly, highly recommend this book.
- How to Be Rich by J. Paul Getty.
- An oldie but a goodie. And let me tell you what I love about this book. First of all, great title. Don’t you want to know how to be rich? And it’s a misnomer. It’s a really good pitch. Although this book is about getting rich, it’s also really more sociological and philosophical. It’s about the creation of wealth, the obligation that wealth creates, how we create jobs and share that wealth, and how we contribute to our culture patrimony through wealth to share that. Think Rockefeller. It’s a really really interesting book.
- Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide, written by Brandon Webb and John David Mann.
- Many of you have heard John David Mann on the Writing Gym podcast. He had some great thoughts to share on the writing of this book that he and John went through. Brandon and John put a really great book together. I particularly loved their philosophy on mastering fear. A lot of times, we talk about really mastering fear. And he really nips that myth in the bud through this book. We’ve all been afraid of something in our lives. Sometimes it’s big things. Sometimes fear really gets in the way of our dreams. I don’t want fear to get in the way of your dreams, your publishing dreams.
Now, my favorite fiction picks.
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
- One of the things we talk about over in the Writing Gym a whole lot is how you integrate your literary devices to augment your theme and plot points. It’s really, really hard to do. And this book did it really well. Not only is it a good, interesting, character-driven story, but the pacing is amazing. She gives you just enough information for you to always be on the edge of your seat, wondering what’s going to happen next.
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
- You’ve probably seen this book about. It was a New York Times bestseller. Very popular book. Again, the pacing was really beautiful. Just spot-on, how the author was able to give out the information and it did have a surprise ending. No spoilers here, but the way that the book was able to come full circle in it’s theme but also to have a surprise at the end was very masterful. Really, really loved this book.
- Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington.
- This is a YA (Young Adult) novel written with a masterful pacing. All of my picks in the fiction world are about pacing, because that is the hardest thing for a fiction writer to master. This book is a really good example of effective pacing in a YA novel. Every single page, I wanted to show this to the writers in the Writing Gym and say “Look how she did this. This is really amazing. Check out this pacing.”
I want to send some shout-outs to some amazing members of the Writing Gym who published as well. I’m really excited for their victories, for their success, for the way that they were able to complete their writing dreams.
My first shout-out goes to Dr. Priya Saklani, who finished her book, The Wounded Healer: The True Story of a Child Sexual Abuse Survivor. She finished this book in 2017, published in 2018.
This is a really great memoir where she is really honest about some really tough stuff. She and I had some good, tearful moments together as we worked through the contents of this book. This isn’t easy stuff to talk about. It’s not easy stuff to read. But the victory message is here.
We talked about mastering fear earlier. Here, she’s talking about mastering an experience, moving through something and coming out the other side with positivity. This is a really powerful book from the Writing Gym.
Next I want to send a big shout-out to our very own Stephanie Scott-Snyder, who wrote this book, not in the Writing Gym, but it was published in 2018. Stephanie works in the field of crime–I won’t tell you more than that. I’ll let her tell her own story. And her novel, When Women Offend: Crime and the Female Perpetrator, is a very compelling nonfiction. Stephanie is certainly an expert in this field who has a lot to share.
And the last Writing Gym shout-out that I want to give is to Terry Harkin, who wrote The Big Buddha Bicycle Race. We met in New York a few years back and we worked on some of his pages and got his pitch ready. Then Terry got a three-book deal.
He’s doing really great for himself. His publishing company just sent him on a speaking tour, so I was able to meet up with him in Colorado. We had lunch, and we talked about his journey as a writer. I’m super proud of him, super happy for him, really could not be more thrilled for his success and what he’s been able to do with his story and his books.
Please support your fellow writers. Leave a review on any of these books if you’ve read them.
This is one of the most important things you can do for the authors that you love. Take five minutes on Amazon, or Goodreads, and leave them a glowing review!
Lastly, I want to thank you all for your support of Storytelling for Pantsers. This book has sold so well. Many of you have reached out to me and asked for a signed copy that I’ve sent to you with so much joy in my heart.
I appreciate you and I look forward to hearing from you all about the books that you love and your plans for the future.
Until next time. Happy reading and writing.