Oh, the luxury of weekend reading! It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
We get to curl up somewhere, maybe even between errands and projects, to feast our eyes upon the written word.
As someone who believes it is acceptable to cancel plans over a good book, I have put together five recommendations to renew your creative energy for the upcoming week.
1. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes by Stephen King
Everyone writes these kinds of lists now as clickbait but, this one is actually worth your time. King doesn’t throw together fluffy advice to hit a SEO-induced word count. He wrote something real and helpful from his experience with writing failure, and ultimate success.
Why read it?
He writes like he is talking. So, it feels like a conversation with a brilliant friend.
All of what follows has been said before. If you are interested enough in writing to be a purchaser of this magazine, you will have either heard or read all (or almost all) of it before. Thousands of writing courses are taught across the United States each year; seminars are convened; guest lecturers talk, then answer questions, then drink as many gin and tonics as their expense-fees will allow, and it all boils down to what follows.
2. I Didn’t Laugh For a Long Time by Hayley Williams
This is one of many discussions about artists and their struggle with mental health. You should read it anyway.
Inside, Hayley Williams describes a state of struggle that she doesn’t want someone to diagnose. Most creative people can relate.
We wrote and wrote and I never liked what I put to the music Taylor sent me. His stuff sounded inspired. My parts sounded, to me, like someone dead in the eyes. I didn’t know the person behind those words. Probably because I never before allowed her to come out and say how she really felt. I never cared to get to know her.
3. The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
This one is for a long weekend. Or you can translate “read” to mean “skim.” I love this book and recommend it constantly. It’s not just helpful for writers.
The book can help anyone who wishes to express themselves better.
It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules. After he has learned, by their guidance, to write plain English adequate for everyday uses, let him look, for the secrets of style, to the study of the masters of literature.
4. Hey, Computer Scientists! Stop Hating on the Humanities by Emma Pierson
If it’s not obvious from the title, Pierson makes the argument that numbers aren’t enough to make a good decision. Since the Op Ed was published in 2017, we’ve seen even more examples of how the ability to code something doesn’t necessarily mean you possess good judgment.
Essentially, she points out the Frankenstein-like approach that American engineers seem to be taking to invention. Don’t ask whether you should create something. Just make it.
It’s a fair question because other fields of science, like medicine, require an exploration of ethics.
I’ve watched brilliant computer scientists display such woeful ignorance of the populations they were studying that I laughed in their faces. I’ve watched military scientists present their lethal innovations with childlike enthusiasm while making no mention of whom the weapons are being used on. There are few things scarier than a scientist who can give an academic talk on how to shoot a human being but can’t reason about whether you should be shooting them at all.
5. Rescue the arts from the budget chopping block by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
The prolific Julie Andrews and her daughters discuss how the arts can improve learning in all fields of study.
We need it.
We just don’t want to pay for it.
They break that arguement down to show why the arts should be a priority in our culture, especially in education.
There was the student who sat silently at the back of a playwriting class for the better part of the semester, ski hat pulled low over his forehead, arms folded defiantly across his chest. Who would have thought he would ultimately write an award-winning political satire that was selected for production, and go on to start a student-written and edited section of his local newspaper, before attending journalism school?
What Are You Reading?