The Secret Shelf - 01

People always ask me what I'm reading or for recommendations. Here's a little of both; two birds with one stone kind of thing. My Secret Shelf contains books for my trade, writing, books for my passions, theology and fantasy and classics, and finally books that I deem essential for life and thought. In this installment I offer three titles that will revolutionize your writing.

1. On Writing Well, William Zinsser  - I'm surprised how many folks in the writing world have not read this treasure. I read it at least once a year, referring to it on countless occasions. Not only will it supply you with fantastic guidance regarding style, genre and editing but it will invigorate you to write often and give you permission to write about yourself. I've included here a picture of Zinsser himself (see below) rather than an icon of the book for obvious reasons: a master plying his craft.

2. The Writing Life, Annie Dillard - You won't want to put it down. This book excites me in a completely different way than Zinsser. "When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner's pick, a woodcarver's gouge, a surgeon's probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory." Being deep in new territory is one of the joys, one of the addictions, of writing. Throughout this slight volume Dillard does not tell you about the writing life, she shows you. After you read this book, you'll never chop wood the same again.

3. The Sneetches, Dr. Seuss - You can't do a list like this and not include the Seuss. Do youtself a favor. Read this book aloud. Act it out with your voice. Get in to it. Feel the joy. When you're writing, if you don't feel joy then you should take up another hobby. I wonder what Dr. Seuss did when he wrote this book, and all the others. I imagine him wearing outlandish hats sitting in his long-underwear writing and speaking the lines as they found themselves to the paper. There must have been joy. This book sits right next to Zinsser on my Secret Shelf.

Looking for a new devotional read for 2015? I invite you to consider my new devotional Longing For More. It's a 52-week devotional that you can begin at anytime. Get a copy here. 

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Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.