Texts That Explore Writing

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Texts That Explore Writing

Reading about writers

As the DC area prepares for National Novel Writing month, the library is getting ready to engage readers and writers alike with a series of exciting programs and drop in events.  NaNoWriMo, as it's known, takes place each November. Participants can sign up online to track their progress as they aim to write the next hit novel in a month! Check out DC Library's NaNoWriMo page for more system-wide events. Below are some books that explore the process of writing to inspire you as you work on your novel. Even if novel writing is not quite for you, but you enjoy reading about writing, these books may interest you:

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf is a classic text for a multitude of reasons - but it is considered a definitive piece of feminist writing. Based on a series of essays, Woolf's text is thought provoking, as she explores women's place in literary history and their relationship to writing. As Woolf declares, "Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” (A Room of One's Own)

Similarly, if you enjoy reading about classic authors, look no further than John Steinbeck's text, Travels with Charley: in Search of America. Written before famous 20th-century travel pieces like Jack Kerouac's On the Road, some describe Steinbeck's work as more of a memoir than a treatise on writing. Regardless, ride along with Charley the French poodle as Steinbeck travels the country; this novel is a wonderful companion piece to the author's other writings like The Grapes of Wrath and The Red Pony

No author is quite as enigmatic or fascinating as Zora Neale Hurston. "Rediscovered' by Alice Walker, Hurston is known for texts like Their Eyes Were Watching God. But Hurston was an inflammatory figure in her own day, challenging other writers like Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. Dust Tracks on a the Road, Hurston's semi-autobiography, is no less controversial: critics have claimed that elements of the novel have been fabricated. Nonetheless, Hurston was a singular woman of her time, and she has been lauded for early work as an anthropologist and folklorist. Irreverent and poignant, this book offers a glimpse into the the world of a captivating woman.

Similarly, Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate: a book of musings offers a nuanced portrayal of a well known writer. Starting from her early childhood, Tan traces aspects like her relationship with her mother to demonstrate how these moments have influenced her career. As a fan of Tan's writing, I enjoyed the humor and depth she conveyed in this piece (one of my favorite books is still The Joy Luck Club).

Although I admire all of these writers and would like to my write my own novel some day, right now I'm still content to read some fabulous books. So if you are like me and looking to live a bit vicariously through someone else's writing, then these may be the texts for you. And for all of you who are daring enough to accept the NaNoWriMo challenge, good luck and happy writing!