become great writer

Seven books to read to become a great writer

These days, there are a plenty of online tools that make writing an easy job. From grammar correction to plagiarism detection, everything is just a click away. However, is writing that easy?

If you are in the literary field, you will know that the answer to the above question is NO. These tools do aid in the writing process, but the actual idea of what to write and how to write is something that is innate as well as acquired over time.Just like basketball or badminton game, you get better in writing with experience. That being said, if you are into sports, you might understand that to be a good player, along with practice, a person should also watch other people play. Watching others play will help the players understand and get better in their play.

Likewise, to be a good writer, you must read. Reading should be your daily ritual if you want to be a great writer. Good writers read a lot. It can be anything like magazines, books, periodicals, memoirs, etc.

There are two things that many great authors recommend to budding writers, who want to progress: more writing and reading. Writing is an obvious one. Practice makes a man perfect. The more you write, the better you get in writing.

That being said, only writing in a vacuity doesn’t help much. It is reading that exposes writers to the various aspects of writing. One of the biggest advantages of reading is that you will be able to grasp the art of language.

If you are a writer, your approach towards a book completely differs. Instead of reading the book just for its story or content, you will appreciate the language, the finer points of words, the characterization, the narration, etc.

To be honest, nothing will inspire a writer as much as reading someone else’s work. Reading helps many writers to deal with their writers’ block – another important reason for writers to read. You could also join a book club in India to draw inspiration.

If you are unsure of where and how to start, worry not! We have compiled a list of 7 books to read to become a great writer. On the other hand if you already have you manuscript, read our blog on How to Self Publish a Book in India.

  1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

How can we have a list of the best books to read and not feature Stephen King’s work? Be it fiction writing or a book about fiction writing, Stephen King weaves his magic like a pro that he is. One of the main reasons some readers do not prefer to read self-help or motivation books is that they think such books cannot be a thrilling read.

Well, this book proves you wrong. This memoir from our master of the horror genre is just what every writer needs to read. With elucidated description on the mechanics of writing, this book is a part memoir of his life as an author.

The book not only contains practical advice, but it also provides some anecdotes that will may you nod in agreement. If you want to start reading books about writing, this is where you start. With King’s magical narration and his profound yet witty writing advice, this book should be on top of your To-Be-Read list.

  1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Do you think your vocabulary is top-notch? Read Infinite Jest. Do you want to improve your vocabulary? Read Infinite Jest. Do you want to know how to create astonishing subplots? Read Infinite Jest. In short, to be a good writer, read Infinite Jest.

With ornate subplots, David Wallace’s Infinite Jest is not only entertaining but is also informative. This wacky and amusing political satire is morbid, and the intellectual wit of the author is just amazing. With an astonishing range of cultural references in the novel, this author gives other writers some serious writing goals.

This book is highly helpful if you are looking to improve your vocabulary. Even language lovers might need a dictionary by their side to finish this novel. That being said, the effort put on reading this book is entirely fruitful.

  1. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Have you read a book with powerful dialogues, which lingered in your memory even after days or months of reading it? Revolutionary Road is one such book. If you are planning to write a fictional novel, where you want to express your characters’ thoughts via potent dialogues, then this is the book that you must read and re-read.

This suburban tale based on the 1960s is about Frank and April Wheeler, a couple of ex-Greenwich Village bohemians. When April gets accidentally pregnant, they head out to Connecticut. A story of love and heartbreak, Revolutionary Road is well-known for its unique, imagined dialogue sequence.

The way Frank has long conversations with his wife about his daily life, his job, and his importance in his company and her response to it, where she holds him up in a revered position were impeccably crafted. Also, when the same conversations play out, in reality, the way his wife responds and the disparity between the couple that follows are laudable. Reading this book will teach you how to write a simple story in a poignantly powerful manner.

  1. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed

This book would have been suggested to you at least once in your life. If not, here it goes. This book is highly recommended for its razor-sharp narration. If you ever thought a non-linear narrative cannot be gripping enough, you are in for a surprise, for Wild is a novel that proves that a non-linear narrative can drive a story even better than a traditional, linear narrative.

While any reader would be amused by the whole narration and the sequence of events, as a writer, you would appreciate the incredible storytelling capability of the author. The story is a memoir; it is about the epic 1,100-mile hike the author made along the Pacific Coast Trail. While the hike was done as an attempt to make peace with herself and fight her inner demons, never once in the book, the author shows sentiment or self-pity.

If you want to write a story inspired by your or your close one’s life, read this book. This novel will give a clear idea on how to write a story inspired by a real life, without being one-sided or biased.

  1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Based in the year 1938, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is a one-of-its-kind novel. The story has a first-person narration, and it is about a shy, awkward, and unsophisticated girl. In the world where most books focus on strong and beautiful protagonists, this book breaks those stereotypes. One may think that Rebecca is the name of the narrator, but as you read the book, you will realize that the protagonist’s name is seldom mentioned.

Writing a book without mentioning the protagonist’s name, keeping the protagonist mediocre, and keeping the story unusual are some of the creative aspects of this novel that would interest and inspire any writer.

Also, as you read further, you will understand that the girl’s namelessness in the story depicts her life. Existing in the shadow of a ghost, she lives a life of someone who is insignificant. Finally, as a writer, you need to look out for the climax, which is poignantly beautiful and well-crafted.

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Controversial subject and unreliable narrator: both grab your attention when you read a book. However, have you ever wondered how it would be to write a book from the viewpoint of an antagonist or a person with negative shades? Nabokov does exactly that.

The protagonist of Lolita is an unreliable narrator; he is a middle-aged professor obsessed with a 12-year-old girl. He becomes sexually involved with her after he becomes her stepfather. Listed on TIME magazine’s 100 best English-language novels, Lolita is indeed a classic that every writer should read.

One may wonder if the book is a real memoir, for there is a hilarious foreword to this book written by John Ray, Jr., Ph.D. This is one of the best-written forewords, and it is nothing but blunt honesty about the story, the author, and the characters.

As a writer, you not only learn how to perfect your narration skills, but you will also understand how important each tiny aspect of a novel is.

  1. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

Recommended by Stephen King himself as a book that inspired him to write, A Suitable Boy is a tale of a mother and a daughter trying to find an appropriate groom for the latter. If long novels are your cup of tea, then this is a must read.

With 1,349 pages and 591,552 words, this book is one of the longest English-language novels ever published as a single volume. Writing long stories are not easy, but they are indeed very much feasible. However, one of the biggest issues with long novels is that they must not beat around the bush or be redundant.

Vikram Seth masters the art of taking us into the lives of his book’s characters without making us feel bored or jaded. With brilliant narration, this book also explores the national political issues in a satirical angle.

As an author, this book makes you push your boundaries further and inspires you to provide your best to your readers.

We hope that, by now, you have a list of book recommendations that you can add to your to-be-read list. How many of these books have you already read? Let us know in the comments below.

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Aishwarya Mukundarajan

Aishwarya is an MBA graduate from Symbiosis International University, Pune. When asked what her hobbies are she points to an overflowing bookcase.

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  • good to see Aiswarya’s recommendation. She is right, i agree with her. i wrote a book How we misinterpret our energy (SDS) it tries to say, we are all locked up in one kind or the other self deception syndrome, that way how we misinterpret our ‘energy’…if one goes through the book one can realize where do we fail that was my research since last about 50 years of observation of India primarily, see Nehru wrote ‘Discovery of India and the Glimpses of world history how it made Dhirubhai Ambani to misuse but yet he made a great fortune, but very Nehru gave a contradictory situation by accepting the Accession of J&K, that is some Alabatros to India, for it consumes a good chunk of Indian tax payers moneys; besides he failed to grant to the kashmiris self determination while he wanted for self determination based Indian independence; if you use one thought for you and if you use different one you ought to fail – see American independence is conceived on Equality, while it accepted Adam Smith thought of wealth of nations, obvious contradiction to equality, just because when we talk on wealth it is obvious, we, obviously promote absolute absolute ‘inequality’ that way serious contradictions in man upsets the apple cart of democracy…if you go through the essays u may get a grip yea, you are free to comment in any way you want that is the freedom called Equality. tks.

  • Hey thanks for this informative content. It would help me alot to write my novels. Thanks again and keep sharing!