A WRITER'S BOOKBAG
Great writers read. They read fiction, non-fiction, and books about
writing. Here are some suggestions to get you started. Click the
links if you want to buy from Amazon (note: NewsLab makes a small
commission on each sale). If you're teaching journalism,
we also have a list of textbooks to
consider. And if you want to read them in a whole new way, consider
the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World by
NewsLab's Deborah Potter and VCU's Deb Halpern Wenger, CQ
Writer's Coach: An Editor's Guide to Words that Work, by Jack
Hart, Pantheon, 2006.
Useful and funny--a great read and an essential reference from the
Oregonian newspaper's writing coach.
for the Heart,
by Al Tompkins, Bonus Books, 2002.
Storytelling advice from a veteran journalist, now on the Poynter
Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Ann Lamott, Anchor, 1995.
Inspiring guidance: "Good writing is about telling the truth."
Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman, Farrar
Strauss and Giroux, 1998
Personal essays on a love affair with words.
Search of Light:
The Broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow, 1938-1961, edited by Edward
Bliss, Jr., New York: Da Capo Press, 1997
A collection of Murrow’s brilliant work.
by Bob Dotson, Bonus Books, 2002.
Tips and lessons from NBC’s Emmy-award winning national correspondent.
the Road with Charles Kuralt,
by Charles Kuralt, Putnam, 1985.
A collection of TV pieces by one of the best broadcast writers ever.
30th anniversary edition, by William Zinsser, Collins, 2006
Reissued in paperback, this informal guide to writing is studded
with practical advice.
Read to Write: A Writing Process Reader, by Donald M. Murray, Dryad
A mentor to many writers, Don Murray deals with the barriers writers
face and offers a guide for getting over them.
Elements of Style,
4th edition, by Strunk, White and Angell, Longman, 1999
A classic, still useful after all these years. This edition has
an index, which is essential. You can also find it online at http://www.bartleby.com/141/
Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work, edited
by Marie Arana, Public Affairs, 2003
A collection of short pieces originally written for the Washington
Post by writers about writing.
Comics, Scott McCloud, Harper Paperbacks, 1994
Recommended by news director Scott Atkinson. "The single best
explanation ever about the relationship between words and pictures,
and one of those books that never, ever fails to give me a fresh
set of eyes."
is I, 2nd edition, by Patricia T. O’Conner, Riverhead
A fun-to-read guide to English grammar. Honest.
On Words: A Dictionary For Writers And Others Who Care About
Words, by John B. Bremner, Columbia University Press, 1980.
Easy to use; explains meanings in a way that helps writers make
Jon Franklin, Penguin, 1994
Advice from a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner on writing non-fiction.
William Zinsser, Collins, 1993.
Another Atkinson recommendation. "If On Writing Well is the
how of writing, WTL is the why," he says. "It's also deeply
subversive, in that it explains how the act of writing changes you."