Best books to inspire struggling writers


The outline for my maybe-one day-novel that has lived as only an outline for a year now.

Happy NaNoWriMo! If you’re stuck for ideas or trolling the internet to get a break from the feverish pace of your typing, here’s a list of books about writers just like you.

[Ed. note: After composing this list I found I had chosen books about male writers who are jerks. If you are not a male and a jerk please don’t take any offence that I said these were writers just like you.]

1) The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

Nate is a writer. The really obnoxious Brooklyn kind that you hate. As you’re struggling to fill your gaping plot holes you can be happy in the knowledge that even if you sell this book you’re struggling to write this month, you will never be as insufferable as Nate.

2) Grub by Elise Blackwell

Have I talked about this book before? I’ve talked about this book before. Elise Blackwell’s modern retelling of George Gissing’s New Grub Street came a few years before Brooklyn’s literary scene happened which makes it a fascinating snapshot of an era that is long gone, even though it was less than ten years ago. Her characters are way less annoying than today’s New York writers but just as confused about their literary futures as you are about yours.

3) A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

This list sort of became about jerky male writers, huh? I loved A Moveable Feast because Hemingway is such an audacious asshole and has absolutely no self-awareness about how he’s coming across. The balls on that guy! The book is mostly beloved because it gives a glimpse into the fabulous Paris lives of the jazz-age writers but that is only 20% of its draw for me. I’m in it for Hemingway alluding to how small Fitzgerald’s dick is.

4) Anything by John Irving

I don’t have evidence that John Irving is a jerk besides the fact that all of his books seem to be about him in some way. Don’t get me wrong, I love John Irving books. Every time I pick one up I barrel through it in 24 hours. I’m comforted by the familiarity of the bears and Amsterdam sex workers in all of his texts. Writing about yourself over and over and over again is a jerk move though. Like he thinks that his life as a New Hampshire dwelling high school wrestling enthusiast is a story worth telling over and over again.

5) The Shining by Stephen King

DIdn’t see this one coming, did you? The Shining is the perfect choice for so many reasons. First of all, there’s a Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the Tiff Bell Lightbox here in Toronto so The Shining is top of mind for me. Second, it’s cold and miserable outside so you’re in the right mindset for a re-reading. Lastly, if anything is going to turn you into a homicidal maniac like Jack Torrance, it will probably be trying to write a full novel in the month of November.

Happy writing and remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.




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