My bookshelf

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I’m often asked what’s on my bookshelf. What do I read? What can I recommend?

Writers become better writers by reading. It’s a fact!

Writers of fiction, especially, can learn loads from reading books in their own genre, but also from reading ‘text’ books on how to write – or how to edit.

Here are some books on my bookshelf – the physical ones plus the ones I read through Kindle – that I can thoroughly recommend.

A good read

These are novels I’ve read and enjoyed. Not just as a read, but to help me to understand how best to write a novel.

Each to their own, but you might enjoy some of these too.

I See You

I also enjoy short stories.

  • The Wonderful World of Worders compiled by Jenni Doherty includes a few flash fiction stories by yours truly.
  • David Sedaris has a special form of wit. I like a lot of his material – he is excellent on radio – but I am particularly attached to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. It was the topic of a TV programme called Page Turners, hosted by Jeremy Vine. A book group I belonged to back then were in the invited audience because we’d agreed to read and review his book, among many others.
  • I studied The Dubliners by James Joyce for an A Level English course I took when I was in my mid-30s. I loved the way his stories offered snapshots of the various characters and an insight into life of that era.
  • I have a copy of The Complete Saki, and often dip in to read his short stories.  There is so much dialogue. Such wit/sarcasm. And terribly old-fashioned manners.
Finding inspiration / getting started

A blank page can prove to be a writer’s nightmare. You need inspiration.

  • If you need to unlock your latent creativity and make your dreams a reality, try Julia Cameron’s masterpiece: The Artist’s Way. It’s a more modern version of the one I used so many years ago but I’m sure it will serve you well.
  • I love the 101 places you can find inspirations for stories listed by Patsy Collins in From Story Idea to Reader. Co-written with publisher Rosemary Kind, they combined their respective skills into one good book for those looking to write and publish.
  • I came across 642 Tiny Things to Write About by Po Bronson in the gift shop attached to an art gallery – I forget where! I couldn’t resist buying it.
The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron
From Story Idea - guest posts
The theory of writing and editing

These go into the detail, and may help you to become a better writer. They will certainly help you when you are faced with editing your first draft.


The Story Grid

Since I started writing plays, shorts ones encouraged by courses attended at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth  and Bridport Arts centre, I’ve embarked on a full length play, based on the third short play.

I’ve been attending lots of workshops to improve my playwrighting skills including classes with Brian Mullin at CityLit. I took a one-day workshop with him called JumpStart Your Play and then progressed the the Advanced Playwrighting course.

I’ve also accumulated some books on playwrighting and can recommend these highly:

Although I’m not interested in acting, nor directing, it turns out you can learn a lot about playwrighting if you view it from their perspective. These books have proved insightful.


They don’t teach you, at school, how to cope with life. Older and wiser, they say, but maybe we still need a helping hand? Someone who’s been there, got the T-shirt, and is willing to share their thoughts?

  • I’ve read a lot of Paul Coelho, but the one that stays with me is The Alchemist.
  • Dr Wayne Dyer’s book – Change your Thoughts, Change your Life – examines the 81 verses of the Tao, and offers guidance on how to live in peace and harmony with the world around us.
  • Being a woman ‘in your own right’ is a challenge. It’s three decades since I bought Anne Dickson’s A Woman in Your Own Right.  Not much has changed, although the book has a new cover!

If you’ve read a book that you think I should add to my bookshelf, let me know!