Welcome to the home base for the creative project I dreamed up for the year I turned 40. I’m reading 40 books in a number of different genres in order to listen my way into the sort of writer I’m being invited to become in this new decade of my life.
I’ve been a professional editor for nearly 20 years, having landed my first editorial position straight out of college at age 21 (with two editorial and writing internships before that), and I’ve been helping writers strengthen their words and ideas ever since.
Over the years, I’ve also done a lot of writing: poetry and short stories, young adult fiction and adult literary fiction, spiritual and personal essays, news and human interest stories, informational writing, course content, and more.
Which genre is home? I’m not sure. Somewhere along the way, while building my vocation and business, I seem to have lost my writerly identity.
This is the year of finding it again.
Following are the 40 books included in the year-long project. Links below take you to the Amazon listing for each book and are not affiliate links. Books marked (*) have been read before but are being re-read for this project.
1. The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner *
2. Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron
3. To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Philip Lopate
4. You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction, from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between by Lee Gutkind
5. The Accidental Life: An Editor’s Notes on Writing and Writers by Terry McDonell
6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr *
7. My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok *
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini *
9. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver *
10. Crooked Little Heart by Anne Lamott *
11. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
12. The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike
13. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
14. Sons of Liberty by Adele Griffin *
15. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsberg *
16. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary *
17. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle *
18. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster *
19. Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
20. Educated by Tara Westover
21. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
22. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
23. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
24. Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham
25. Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn
26. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris *
27. The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong *
28. Tell Me More by Kelli Corrigan
29. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
30. Upstream by Mary Oliver
31. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
32. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
33. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
34. The Stream and the Sapphire by Denise Levertov *
35. Best American Poetry 2018, edited by Dana Gioia