It’s summer time. Hopefully, for most of you, that means vacation’s ahead and maybe even some lazy days spent relaxing at the beach or by the pool. If so, chances are that you’ll need some good reading material to help you while away those idle, sun-soaked afternoons. Although your go-to may be a good detective novel, that biography you’ve been meaning to read all year, or just the latest issue of People magazine, we’ve got some other suggestions you should definitely consider.
Below are seven awesome books about writing, content, and language. Now, before you balk at the idea of bringing anything work-related with you on vacation, let us dispel that notion for you straight away. Yes, these books all have to do with creating better content in one way or another, but they’re also fun and entertaining reads that we think you’ll not only enjoy, but also learn from. We certainly did.
If you’ve got some free time on your hands this summer, these are all worthy of your attention:
We love this book. If you’re a Stephen King fan, chances are that you will too. That’s because King not only offers some really practical, hands on advice for how to write better, more engaging content (advice that can easily be applied to business writing too, we might add), he also opens up about his personal life and shares the fascinating story of how he became one of the world’s most successful novelists. Find out how he came to write some of his classic works like “Carrie” while working in a laundromat, and how to craft narratives that will keep your readers on the edge of their seats.
In “Everybody Writes,” Ann Handley serves up a go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication. She describes it as “part writing guide, a part handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing, and all-around reliable desk companion for anyone creating or directing content on behalf of brands.” We like this book so much, and find it so useful, that we wrote our own review of it when it came out in 2014.
While not a technical guide to writing better, this book offers a series of fantastic essays in which William Zinsser explores some of the many factors that will help you write like a pro. In addition to outlining some basic principles of good writing, he provides some industry-specific tips and advice for business writing as well as writing about science and technology, people, sports, and travel, among other areas. It’s a nice read that’s well written and offers the kind of sound advice that just about every nonfiction writer could benefit from.
If you appreciate the importance of proper punctuation, then you have a lot in common with Lynne Truss. In “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” she chastises those who have gotten lazy with their use of punctuation (e.g., the kind of folks who use its and it’s interchangeably) and not only explains how to use punctuation correctly, but also offers its history along with some examples of very humorous situations that have arisen when it was used incorrectly.
Roy Peter Clark has been called America’s writing coach, and in “Writing Tools” we see yet another example of why. In it, he presents a series of tools and strategies to help writers create better content. With each new section of the book, Clark offers his insights on why to avoid overusing adverbs, for example, or how to incorporate storytelling into your prose. While definitely targeted at nonfiction writers, this book still provides many relevant tools and suggestions that writers should always try to incorporate into their craft.
If you’re familiar with Bill Bryson, then you know what a funny and entertaining writing style he has. While this book isn’t about writing per se, it is about the origins — and quirks — of the English language. From the descent of the larynx into the throat (which is why you can talk but animals can’t), to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the intriguing, often hilarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world’s largest growth industries. It’s a quick but fascinating read that will give you a new appreciation for our mother tongue.
Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” is a look at the trials and tribulations of being a writer. In it, she helps readers find their passion and voice, beginning from creating the first really crummy draft of a story to the peculiar letdown of publication. Although this is also a book directed at folks looking to write their first novel, it also contains lots of witty and insightful life lessons that are useful for anyone who spends their days trying to communicate through the written word. It’s a great read and we highly recommend it.
If you’re planning on doing some reading this summer, we hope that you’ll consider these suggestions. They’re as fun to read as they are entertaining, and if you’re interested in becoming a better writer (or just having a laugh), these books should definitely be on your reading list.