Occasionally I read nonfiction.

We’re having book talk! It has been entirely too long and I’m very excited to share a new book with you. In my absence from our Book Talk Tuesdays, I have continued to read, so there are several books that are begging to be shared. The first one up is Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd.

Good Prose

This book jumped out at me one day when I was browsing Barnes & Noble with the intention of spending a gift card I’d received for Christmas. Occasionally I like to pick up nonfiction books so I feel like I’m actually doing some productive reading. This book looked marginally interesting and I figured why the heck not? (A Pulitzer Prize winner? I should learn everything he knows!) Without any exaggeration or superlatives, I have to say that it exceeded all my expectations. Good Prose is not a how-to or instructional book. It’s a dissemination of knowledge gained over decades of experience. The anecdotes and the style in which it is written make it an absolute joy—again, no exaggeration.

While the title may leave the impression that this book will best serve those who write nonfiction, I’d recommend it for any and every kind of writer. It is encouraging, engaging, funny, and encompasses ideas that will benefit anyone who wants to communicate through pen and ink (or laptop and keyboard).

One of my favorite quotes (I read with a highlighter and this book practically glows with neon yellow ink) is found in the chapter on memoirs.

Writers want to be engaging, and it is easy to try to purchase charm at the expense of honesty, but the ultimate charm lies in being more right than pretty. (p 51)

Doesn’t that apply to everything? I’d rather be an honest, substantial writer (and person) than to sacrifice what is real in the name of charm.

If you need to add some nonfiction to your reading list and would like to glean some wisdom from a seasoned writer and editor, I recommend this book 100%. Check it out and let me know what you think!


What are you reading this week? 


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  1. Karin

    I’m reading The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier. I confess that I’m having trouble getting into it, and I can’t decide why. I enjoy it while I’m reading it, but it doesn’t pull me to pick it up and finish it. Good Prose sounds really, well, good. 😉

      1. Liz

        How many books should we have read by now to be on track? Pretty sure I’m a few behind, but I have two “in the works” as well.

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