Four years ago – after an email conversation with my friend and mentor Sean D’Souza – I started a ‘new years’ habit. That habit was to re-read a book that I’ve read several times – and that book was The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield.
Now The War Of Art is one of those books where the investment of time in multiple readings pays off because there are nuances and depths that you only pick up on subsequent readings.
Two years ago after I’d re- read the Art Of War again I was randomly putting it back in my bookshelf, and the book I’d shelved it next to nearly fell out. And this is a book that I’ll introduce you to in a moment….but at the time I thought to myself: this is a great book and was highly influential in many areas of my business life. Maybe I should re-read this too….
So I did.
And when I’d read that I scoured through my book shelves more carefully to see if there were any other books that might pay off by re-reading. And I found three more.
So at the turn of each year I now re-read all 5 of these books. And it’s been such an eye opening experience that I thought I’d post and share those 5 books with you. So let’s check them out:
1. The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield
If you’re a writer of any stripe then you need to know about resistance. And how to beat it. And that the battle against resistance is a battle that must be fought over and over and over again. Steve’s book – although relatively short – identifies how resistance manifests itself in the lives of creative people. And gives guidelines on how to beat it, even if only for today.
2. Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
This book was the book that first opened my eyes to the concept of Deliberate Practice and how it can be harnessed to make constant and consistent improvement in learning specific disciplines. But it’s much, much more than that. For writers, the chapter on Ben Franklin is worth the price of admission alone.
3. The Hero With A 1000 Faces by Joseph Campbell
The Hero With A 1000 Faces might seem like an odd choice for non-fiction writers. But it’s not. Understanding how Campbell’s monomyth connects to story and connects to the human experience is vital for anyone wanting to build an audience and sell to that audience. One of the books I want to write here at One Spoon in 2015 is about the business applications of the Hero’s Journey.
There’s also a version of Campbell’s monomyth that has been adapted for screenplays and novels by Chris Vogler – called ‘The Writer’s Journey’ – that makes a somewhat simpler introduction to Campbell’s work.
4. Make Every Word Count by Gary Provost
Gary Provost was both a fiction writer and a non-fiction writer. This short and simple book is out of print and can be had for chump change on Amazon’s marketplace – you can get it for a cent plus shipping on Amazon.com, and £0.50 plus shipping on Amazon UK. If you aspire to write better this timeless book would be a steal at 50 bucks. So a cent plus shipping should make it a no-brainer.
5. Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner
Theoretically this isn’t a Writers book – it’s a book for jazz musicians who want to improve their improvising. But as a musician myself I can tell you that there is an eerie similarity between writing in flow and playing jazz music. Effortless Mastery is about how musicians can let go from playing consciously and play from within – it’s both surprising and inspiring to read about this from a top jazz pianist’s perspective and contrast it to my own writing experiences.
So there you have 5 books that IMO every writer should read – and read multiple times.
You’ll likely have your own ideas of what books should be in this list….please feel free to share in the comments what books YOU like, and why!