The 2 ways reading makes you a better writer

November 7th, 2017 by Bob Bly

One of the most common questions I get is, “Bob, what book are
you reading now?”

And most people are shocked to find that it is a novel, short
story collection, play, nonfiction narrative, social issue,
science, math, history, economics, or informational book on a
topic other than marketing or business.

The 2 best ways to get better as a writer are to write a lot and
read a lot. And to read widely. Not just about writing,
copywriting, marketing, or business.

And there are 2 reasons reading a lot and widely helps you become
a better writer.

First, you read the books for the content. So your brain’s
storehouse of information, from which you pull content for your
writing, is large and varied.

Second, you absorb the techniques and tricks of the trades other
writers use, and incorporate the best of those in your own

Sounds simple. It is simple. But it also takes a lifetime and
only stops when you die.

So, what do I like to read? Well, without further preamble, here
in no particular order are my 15 favorite books of all time:

1–“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving.

2–“Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller.

3–“Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Flannery O’Connor.

4–“The Prince of Tides” by Pat Conroy.

5–“Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy.

6–“Essentialism” by Greg McKeown.

7–“Lord of Light” by Roger Zelazny.

8–“Drought” by J.G. Ballard.

9–“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka.

10–“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

11–“Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes.

12–“Deathbird Stories” by Harlan Ellison.

13–“The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski.

14–“Mockingbird” by Walter Tevis.

15–“The Shootist” by Glen Swarthout.

If you asked me for a list of my top 100 instead of just these
15, I could fill it easily.

I can’t help it. I just love books and reading; the addiction is
beyond my control.


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