‘Ink in the veins’: Great books by former reporters

Just a reminder: If you hope to be a great writer someday, you really have to read great writers. More specifically, if you imagine yourself someday doing long-form work — really immersing yourself in a subject — read great non-fiction by people who worked as journalists and you’re bound to pick up a sense of how to observe deeply, explore completely and write with voice.

I like this short list from Omnivoracious, Amazon’s book blog. (Full disclosure: Neal Thompson, who wrote that post, is my brother-in-law; we met early in our journalistic careers.)

I’m about to start “Factory Man” by Beth Macy because I spent some time in southwest Virginia and know Beth a little. She was working as a columnist when I was working as a movie reviewer and sometime copy editor at the Roanoke Times. She wrote a piece I’ve been assigning in this class for years, called, “Notice What You Notice,” about being aware of what we’re observing and how those observations can become stories.

Anyway, try to read “above your weight class,” whenever possible — books that challenge you on some level. It’s good for you as a writer and a reporter, especially if you pay attention to what the writer is up to with word choice, description, pacing and dialogue.

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2 Responses to ‘Ink in the veins’: Great books by former reporters

  1. Alex Jacobi says:

    Regina Brett’s quote in the “Notice What You Notice” piece is great: “We’ve got the best seat on the Titanic. And you know what? The band kept playing while the ship went down. That’s our job in this — to be the band; to uplift people even as the ship’s going down.”

  2. Thanks so much for this article. Just discovered half a dozen writers I want to read.

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