Do you believe in Fate? Fate as in signs along your life path that guide you through important (and sometimes dangerous) intersections?
To me, such signs have been books. Maybe I read one too many novels and foreshadowing is now permanently engraved in my mind, but I somehow keep stumbling upon the books I need most at just the right time…
I believe everything happens for a reason, which is why the titles listed below are so special: they got me through good and bad times by offering me hope, inspiration and a sense of belonging – especially in what concerns my own writing endeavours!
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
I was still in College when I first came across this gem of an essay. Though its main topic is the role of women in fiction, it sheds light on other many important themes: educational experience, literary history and the importance of tradition to the aspiring writer.
A Room of One’s Own urges women writers to find their place in this world. I always interpreted it as a ‘call to arms’ – or pen, in this case. This was the book that inspired me to remove the ‘aspiring’ from the expression ‘aspiring writer’ and for that reason I always keep it on my work desk: it serves as a nice kick in the literary butt whenever I find myself struggling.
Writing a Novel: And Getting Published by Nigel Watts
I am one of those people who actually reads instruction manuals – I like to understand how stuff works before using it. Same applies to writing, which is why I was elated when I found this title at a book fair (and at half price!). ‘How to’ books tend to be overly technical, but not this one.
The writing basics are all there: plot, character building, dialogue, point of view, style, theme, editing and marketing. From blank page to submission, with some training exercises along the way, this book takes you through all novel writing phases. If you are an insecure writer (*raises hand*), this is a reassuring title to have around.
The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
‘I’d always vaguely expected to outgrow my limitations’, says Gretchen Rubin in the opening line of The Happiness Project, which is something I find extremely relatable.
We all want to be better, do more – but how? Gretchen is a woman after my own heart, so she hit the books, she researched, she did lists, she experimented, she got frustrated, she learned. The result is a delicious self-help book that will make you laugh and cry and just want to give the author a big warm hug.
I was going through a particular rough patch when someone lent me this book and ironically enough, I started reading it on the bus: the same place where the author had the epiphany that would come to materialize in this very book!
The Muse, Jessie Burton
We all have experienced writer’s block, right? Well, a while back I was feeling pretty depleted and uninspired. Then this book happened and it was like my Soul went from black & white to technicolor.
This is the story of two women, in two different timelines: one paints, the other writes. The Muse gives you suspense, art, sadness and Love.
‘I ran my fingers over the leather of the notebook and remembered. I first started writing as a little girl because I liked imagining parallel possibilities. That was all it was. That Sunday, I picked up my pen for the first time in a long time, and began to write.’
(This book gave me such a creative boost that this was the first year I had the courage to participate in NanoWrimo!)
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
I always hated the expression ‘creature of habit’. Maybe it’s because I abhor routine, or maybe because ‘habit’ to me stands a little too close in meaning to ‘addiction’. Either way, there are things we do we wish we would not.
Fear not, for there is hope: habits can be changed. Impeccably researched, the scientific evidence in this book provides for an interesting read for those who wish to cultivate new and better behaviour patterns. If you’re feeling a bit ‘stuck’ in your daily routine (as I was), The Power of Habit is a breath of fresh air.
And there you have it: the books that helped me overcome fears and grow – both as a person and a writer. Such is the power of great books, and I can only hope to one day produce a body of work as impressive as the one I have shared with you today.