Nonfiction November 2017: Be the Expert…Books about the Reading and Writing Life

Nonfiction November 2017

Today’s Nonfiction November (hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, Julz at Julz Reads, and me) topic is fiction/nonfiction book pairings:

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

It’s not surprising that some of my very favorite authors (Pat Conroy, Anna Quindlen, Ann Patchett) have books on this list. What bookworm doesn’t want to delve into the reading and writing life of their favorite authors…and snag some great book recommendations as a bonus?! There’s something comforting about reading your favorite author’s thoughts about how reading fits into their lives…and realizing they’re echoing your own.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

books about the reading and writing life

Books about the Reading and Writing Life That I Love

A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy (my review)
A collection of Pat Conroy’s writings on books, reading, writing, and life (including letters addressed to his readers)…and his final book published (posthumously). Plus, you get his unfiltered thoughts on various books and authors (he loved Game of Thrones…not Infinite Jest).

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe (my review)
Schwalbe’s collection of essays featuring individual books and how they impacted his life…ranging from serious classics to dark thrillers to children’s books. I added a couple books discussed here to my TBR!

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
A librarian’s letters to the books in her life…both the ones she loves and the ones she hates. And, tons of recommendation lists. PS – it’s really funny.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (my review)
This memoir/essay collection is about much more than the reading and writing life, but both are covered extensively. Anna Quindlen has a grounded, practical outlook and just gets life. Listening to this on audio felt a bit like a therapy session.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Are you surprised Conroy is popping up again? Here he talks about his reading life and the books and people that shaped it.

The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett
A very slim memoir in which one of my favorite authors counsels aspiring writers that the key to the castle is simply putting in the work. Not such a bad piece of advice for life in general.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (my review)
Like Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, this essay collection covers lots more than just reading and writing. The Getaway Car is included in this collection and you get to hear the story behind Parnassus Books among other goodies.

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami
Yep, this memoir is about running. But, it’s also about writing and the two are inextricably linked for Murakami.

Books about the Reading and Writing Life That Are On My TBR

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I think this is Lamott’s version of Patchett’s The Getaway Car and Quindlen’s Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. I’m hoping to fit it in this month.

What are your favorite books about reading and/or writing?

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  1. Wow! This is quite a list and I haven’t read any of them. I’d like to start with Patchett and Quindlen and really want to read Fahrenheit 451. I seem to be completely out of books to read, so may head to one of these next. You ARE an expert here!

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  2. Angela wrote:

    What a cool list! I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a writer, so I don’t often think about an author’s process or what writing means to them, but every once in awhile, I will catch an Instagram of one of my favorite authors and she’ll have a picture of her work space, or something that inspired her, and I love that!

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  3. Cool list! I think my favorite is Stephen King’s On Writing. He talks about his life and how his career got started.

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  4. Sarah R wrote:

    I love Will Schwalbe! I just started Dear Fahrenheit 451 last night and love it. I’ve been in a slump for some reason and I think this will be the ticket to get me out of it.

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  5. BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott is my go-to and all-time favorite for tips on writing (and life!) – highly recommend 🙂 I also really enjoyed ON WRITING by Stephen King.

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  6. Heather wrote:

    I love books on writing and reading! I’ll have to add these to my growing pile!

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
  7. iliana wrote:

    I hope you get a chance to read Bird by Bird – it is really good. Great list, I’m particularly interested in the Ann Patchett books!

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I probably won’t this month, but for sure sometime soon!

      Posted 11.20.17 Reply
  8. Allison wrote:

    Great list! I just love books about reading and writing. I’ve only read the Murakami, but I just finished Will Schwalbe’s End of Your Life Book Club–another one that would fit here. I definitely need to read Ann Patchett’s and Anna Quindlen’s.

    I also picked up my first Pat Conroy book after seeing all of your raves about his work. I’m looking forward to it!

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      You know, I didn’t love End of Your Life Book Club as much as Books for Living…that’s why it wasn’t on this list 🙂

      Which Conroy did you choose?? I hope you love it…and I’m always a touch nervous when someone reads him on my recommendation. I rave so much, what if it doesn’t hold up?!

      Posted 11.20.17 Reply
      • Allison wrote:

        Yeah, of the two, Books for Living was actually higher on my list than End of Your Life Book Club but it was a quick Overdrive selection 🙂 End of Your Life Book Club was fine, but I’m not sure I’d move onto the other one on the strength of it. It sounds like it’s worth it, though.

        The Conroy I got is South of Broad. I picked it up at a library book sale, so I didn’t have much to choose from. Have you read it? Which are your favorites?

        Posted 11.22.17 Reply
  9. I love books on writing by authors! My favourite one is Stephen King’s memoir and writing book. It was great to read about how one of the most famous authors in the world got started and get writing tips from him. Loved it!

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      So many people have mentioned the King in response to this post…it immediately went onto my TBR list!

      Posted 11.20.17 Reply
  10. Books for a Living was so good and I would like to read Dear Fahrenheit 451 at some point. PBS Newshour had a segment tonight with Amy Tan about her new book, which I thought was just a childhood memoir but apparently is also about writing.

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Oh interesting! I didn’t know about the Tan! And Dear Fahrenheit is fun…pick it up when you need something easy and light.

      Posted 11.20.17 Reply
  11. First of all: does Quindlen narrate Lots of Candles? If so, I may have to listen to it even though I just read it!

    I’m going to do the IG challenge tomorrow, but in case you don’t see my photo (thank you new algorithm) some of my favorite books about writing are Bird by Bird, Still Writing, and The Story of a Happy Marriage.

    Posted 11.14.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yes, she does! I loved listening to it…and I now want to read it. Ha!

      What’s Still Writing? New to me…

      Posted 11.20.17 Reply
  12. So many books I loved on this list, especially the Quindlen and Patchett! Dear Fahrenheit 451 is a new favorite… and I really need to read those two Pat Conroys.

    Posted 11.15.17 Reply
  13. This is such a great list! I loved the Patchett Marriage essays, and now I’m obsessed with getting my hands on The Getaway Car. And also Dear Fahrenheit 451, because we librarians? We secretly talk to the books.

    This year I read Stephen King’s On Writing for the first time and really liked it!

    Posted 11.15.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      So many people have mentioned the King…it’s now on my list. Yay!

      And – if I remember correctly, if you’ve read Happy Marriage, then you’ve read Getaway Car. I think it was an essay included in that collection.

      Posted 11.20.17 Reply
      • You’re right! I read The Getaway Car & didn’t realize it. : )

        Posted 11.23.17 Reply
  14. You’ve piqued my interest in the Quindlen before, and this reinforces that. Plus I should really read some Pat Conroy.

    Posted 11.16.17 Reply
  15. Naomi wrote:

    I love books about books, but there are so many out there that it’s really nice to have recommendations from trusted readers!

    Posted 11.16.17 Reply
  16. Brona wrote:

    Delighted to see Murakami’s book on this list – it’s one I constantly recommend to all sorts of people.

    Posted 11.17.17 Reply
  17. Fun list, I am reading the Patchett book right now 🙂

    Posted 11.17.17 Reply
  18. Such a great list! I love nothing better than books about books, writing, and reading. I’m actually working on a post on this exact subject right now, but I’ve been in a huge blogging slump (because I’ve been working on other writing projects.) Now you have inspired me to finish it up — thank you!

    Posted 11.18.17 Reply
  19. What a great topic! Like many other readers, I have a hard time saying no to books about books 🙂

    Posted 11.19.17 Reply

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