The best novels about writers and how being a writer changes their lives

Who am I?

Richard Vetere’s screenplay Caravaggio won The Golden Palm for the Best Screenplay at the 2021 Beverly Hills Film Festival. He co-wrote The Third Miracle screenplay adaptation of his own novel. The movie was produced by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Ed Harris and Anne Heche and directed by Agnieszka Holland released by Sony Pictures Classics. His teleplay adaptation of his stage play The Marriage Fool starring Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett is the most-viewed CBS movie ever and is currently running on Amazon. He also wrote the cult classic film Vigilante called by BAM as one of the “best indies of the 1980s.”

I wrote...

The Writers Afterlife

By Richard Vetere,

Book cover of The Writers Afterlife

What is my book about?

The Writers Afterlife is the story of Tom Chillo, a 44-year-old writer on the verge of fame, who suddenly dies of a stroke and finds himself transported to a place where all writers are sent after they die. After mingling with “The Eternals”—including Shakespeare, Wilde, Keats, and Tolstoy—he discovers that his true peers in this new world are all haunted by the same regret: they never achieved the fame they felt they deserved during their lifetime. There’s still a chance, though. Every writer has the opportunity to return to earth for exactly one week and convince someone to set the wheels in motion to give their life’s work widespread notoriety. The trick is to come up with the perfect plan the first time. Failure is not an option. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Little Women

Richard Vetere Why did I love this book?

Little Women published in 1868 two years before Charles Dickens died was the first novel I read where one of the characters was a writer. Alcott makes Jo March brash and opinionated which is not the usual way writers are portrayed. But Alcott also makes her freedom-loving and this endears the reader to her though sometimes her behavior and the reasons for what she does can baffle. The cool thing about Little Women is that it shows how a writer stands out and how they can change the world around them. Jo March becomes famous and successful and just again in 2019 a movie was made of Little Women to prove its enduring attraction and relevance. 

By Louisa May Alcott,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Little Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Louisa May Alcott shares the innocence of girlhood in this classic coming of age story about four sisters-Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy are responsible for keeping a home while their father is off to war. At the same time, they must come to terms with their individual personalities-and make the transition from girlhood to womanhood. It can all be quite a challenge. But the March sisters, however different, are nurtured by their wise and beloved Marmee, bound by their love for each other and the feminine…

Book cover of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Richard Vetere Why did I love this book?

A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man published in 1912 might be the best title about being an artist that there is. In the novel we follow the intellectual awakenings of a young man in Dublin, Stephen Dedalus, as he struggles with feelings of lust, thoughts of religion, and his sense of identity. Every writer should read this short, semi- autobiographical novel since Joyce dramatizes the last century’s ideas of what it means to be an artist no matter your gender or religion. Stephen has a lot to deal with. Will he fly too close to the sun, crash and burn? Does he truly believe in his aesthetic philosophy?  Where does he belong in the artist’s universe? His best friend wants him to conform and when this same friend steals away the love of Stephen’s young life, he knows he must leave his home and all he is familiar with if he is to survive as an artist.

By James Joyce,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A masterpiece of modern fiction, James Joyce's semiautobiographical first novel follows Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive and creative youth who rebels against his family, his education, and his country by committing himself to the artist's life.

"I will not serve," vows Dedalus, "that in which I no longer believe...and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can." Likening himself to God, Dedalus notes that the artist "remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails." Joyce's rendering of the impressions of…

Book cover of The Lost Weekend

Richard Vetere Why did I love this book?

This book is also a semi-autobiographical and painful exploration of a writer’s addiction to alcohol.  It is the story of a talented writer, Don Birnam. Birnam lives in a rundown neighborhood in Manhattan and is praised for his realism in his writing but he drinks to numb himself to his struggle with his homosexual feelings. The novel follows him on a five-day binge as he uses all kinds of ingenuity to get a bottle of rye to sustain him. He contemplates murdering his selfless, dedicated girlfriend’s maid to get a key to a liquor cabinet. He bangs his head in frustration and winds up in an ‘alcoholic ward.’ Enjoying quoting Shakespeare and confident as a writer, his worst enemy is not a blank page but the need to drink. It was adapted into a brilliant film.

By Charles Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Weekend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Lost Weekend - directed by Billy Wilder as an all-time classic Oscar and Cannes winning film, starring Ray Milland in his most famous role - is one of the most important books ever written about addiction. No novelist had ever so honestly, and vividly, described the torments, tricks and temptations of an alcoholic. In the character of writer Don Birnam, Charles Jackson both exposed his own struggle with the bottle, and eloquently expressed the demons faced by millions of others, anonymous or known. The book and film have inspired and influenced countless writers, artists, musicians, and the title itself…

Book cover of The Shining

Richard Vetere Why did I love this book?

Jack Torrance is struggling with his creativity and his alcohol consumption and when he takes his family to the Overland Hotel he becomes possessed by the hotel! Spending a winter in isolation, his imagination runs rampant. I recommend the novel because it shows a writer who is deep in agony, stressed about being dried up, and then finds himself in such isolation his mind hooks into the dark, disturbing nightmare of murder and mayhem. Though Stephen King at first disliked the Stanley Kubrick film, he is slowly changing his mind. For me, the novel shows what could happen to a writer when they are utterly secluded. I have never been one of those writers who wants to rent a cottage in the woods and write.  I like writing in big cities never too far from a restaurant, a party, a human face.    

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Shining as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around…

Book cover of My Brilliant Friend

Richard Vetere Why did I love this book?

My Brilliant Friend is my favorite novel of the last decade. Elena and Lila are childhood friends in working-class Naples, Italy in the 1950s. When Lila turns down an offer to take a writing class it is Elena who takes it and realizes her vocation. On this theme alone the author captures how Elena’s life changes forever once her first book is published. The author captures how her working-class family, neighbors, and friends, including Lila, look at her differently. She is catapulted into a world she knows nothing about and struggles with her newfound fame and new identity. Who is the brilliant friend of the title you ask as you devour all four books? The novel wonderfully captures how becoming a writer forces those around you to see you differently, confusing them and making you truly wonder if you are as special as all that. PS The TV series based on the novel on HBO is outstanding or should I say brilliant.

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked My Brilliant Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?









Now in B-format Paperback

From one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, comes this ravishing and generous-hearted novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime. The story of Elena and Lila begins in the 1950s in a poor but…

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The Finest Lies

By David J. Naiman,

Book cover of The Finest Lies

David J. Naiman Author Of The Finest Lies

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Who am I?

Anyone with siblings knows the deal. Your sibling becomes your first best friend and closest confidant but also your first competitor and fiercest critic. Navigating that relationship as a teen is fraught with peril. If done poorly, it can leave deep scars. If successful, it can teach you the foundations of how to build healthy relationships for the rest of your life. This theme has everything a writer needs to craft an emotional narrative, and these books do it best.

David's book list on sibling rivalry that will inspire you to reconnect

What is my book about?

A mysterious stranger traps teen siblings in a precarious game where each must overcome their embittered past for the other to survive.

This suspenseful, yet winsome novel explores the power of family and forgiveness. But take heed. The truth can cut like shards of glass, especially for those who’d rather avoid it. Sometimes, only the finest lies will do.

The Finest Lies

By David J. Naiman,

What is this book about?

High schooler Nicole Hallett has just about had it with her brother Jay, so when a mysterious man appears with an offer to replace him with a better one, she doesn’t hesitate. Nicole has always been impulsive, but this time, she finds herself in predicament far worse than anything she’s experienced. Just like that, an average snow day—usually filled with hot cocoa and snowball fights—is commandeered by the stranger, who forces the siblings into a dangerous game.

Confronted by past reflections, tested by present complications, and threatened by future possibilities, Nicole has until the end of the day to disentangle…

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