100 books like 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

By Jane Smiley,

Here are 100 books that 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel fans have personally recommended if you like 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories

James R. Benn Author Of Road of Bones

From my list on essential books for writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always wanted to write. It took years to get started, and after working in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years, I quit the day job routine in 2011 to write full time. I've learned two valuable lessons since I started writing which have been of immense help. The first is a quote from writer and activist Mary Heaton Vorse, who said, "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." The second is from novelist Rachel Basch, who told me that "the story has to move down, as well as forward." Both sound simple. Neither is.

James' book list on essential books for writers

James R. Benn Why did James love this book?

This book is a masterwork of more than thirty years of research into why people tell stories. Booker breaks down literature into seven archetypal themes which occur across all types of stories. Using a wealth of examples ranging from ancient myths and folktales to plays and novels of great literature to the popular movies and TV soap operas of today, he demonstrates how these archetypal themes have remained constant over the generations. Not everyone will agree with Booker, but everyone will learn from him—about reading, writing, and understanding. This fascinating read provides writers with a new way to look at their own plotting and tap into the hero’s journey.

By Christopher Booker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This remarkable and monumental book at last provides a comprehensive answer to the age-old riddle of whether there are only a small number of 'basic stories' in the world. Using a wealth of examples, from ancient myths and folk tales via the plays and novels of great literature to the popular movies and TV soap operas of today, it shows that there are seven archetypal themes which recur throughout every kind of storytelling.
But this is only the prelude to an investigation into how and why we are 'programmed' to imagine stories in these ways, and how they relate to…


Book cover of Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

James R. Benn Author Of Road of Bones

From my list on essential books for writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always wanted to write. It took years to get started, and after working in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years, I quit the day job routine in 2011 to write full time. I've learned two valuable lessons since I started writing which have been of immense help. The first is a quote from writer and activist Mary Heaton Vorse, who said, "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." The second is from novelist Rachel Basch, who told me that "the story has to move down, as well as forward." Both sound simple. Neither is.

James' book list on essential books for writers

James R. Benn Why did James love this book?

This title is unique among books on writing in that Prose devotes a full chapter to eight critical elements of writing: words, sentences, paragraphs, narration, character, dialog, details, and gesture. For example, she explores concepts such as first sentences and their impact on the narrative. Prose suggests that “close reading” is the key to understanding and learning about literature, for the reader and writer. She takes her readers on a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters―Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Woolf, Chekhov―and discusses why these writers have endured. Throughout, she cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which literature is crafted. One of the most important books on writing I have ever read.

By Francine Prose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reading Like a Writer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her entertaining and edifying New York Times bestseller, acclaimed author Francine Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and tricks of the masters to discover why their work has endured. Written with passion, humour and wisdom, Reading Like a Writer will inspire readers to return to literature with a fresh eye and an eager heart - to take pleasure in the long and magnificent sentences of Philip Roth and the breathtaking paragraphs of Isaac Babel; to look to John le Carre for a lesson in how to advance plot through…


Book cover of Writing Fiction, Tenth Edition: A Guide to Narrative Craft

James R. Benn Author Of Road of Bones

From my list on essential books for writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always wanted to write. It took years to get started, and after working in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years, I quit the day job routine in 2011 to write full time. I've learned two valuable lessons since I started writing which have been of immense help. The first is a quote from writer and activist Mary Heaton Vorse, who said, "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." The second is from novelist Rachel Basch, who told me that "the story has to move down, as well as forward." Both sound simple. Neither is.

James' book list on essential books for writers

James R. Benn Why did James love this book?

Now in its tenth edition, this book is for committed writers only. A highly valuable textbook on the writing process, Burroway covers story form, plot, structure, building character, place, and setting, and takes a detailed look at point of view. Each section comes with examples of how things do and do not work, as well as providing a list of suggested readings and writing prompts for further study. This book is a master class in creative writing that also calls on us to renew our love of storytelling and to celebrate the skill of writing well.

By Janet Burroway, Ned Stuckey-French,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writing Fiction, Tenth Edition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

More than a quarter million copies sold!

A creative writer's shelf should hold at least three essential books: a dictionary, a style guide, and Writing Fiction. Janet Burroway's best-selling classic is the most widely used creative writing text in America, and for more than three decades it has helped hundreds of thousands of students learn the craft. Now in its tenth edition, Writing Fiction is more accessible than ever for writers of all levels-inside or outside the classroom.

This new edition continues to provide advice that is practical, comprehensive, and flexible. Burroway's tone is personal and nonprescriptive, welcoming learning writers…


Book cover of All Write: How to Start, Structure, and Sustain a Writing Group

James R. Benn Author Of Road of Bones

From my list on essential books for writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always wanted to write. It took years to get started, and after working in the library and information technology fields for over thirty-five years, I quit the day job routine in 2011 to write full time. I've learned two valuable lessons since I started writing which have been of immense help. The first is a quote from writer and activist Mary Heaton Vorse, who said, "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." The second is from novelist Rachel Basch, who told me that "the story has to move down, as well as forward." Both sound simple. Neither is.

James' book list on essential books for writers

James R. Benn Why did James love this book?

A writing group provides invaluable help for aspiring writers. I participated in a group for several years, which helped me hone my first two manuscripts that were then published as the start of the Billy Boyle WWII mystery series.

All Write focuses on how to organize a group and includes tips on writing and constructive critiquing. Mandel, with her background as a writer, copyeditor, writing group member, and psychotherapist, offers concrete how-to advice on how to maximize the effectiveness of a writing group for all members. This book is packed with writing tips, lessons, and group exercises that can be immediately put to work. 

(Full disclosure: the author is my wife.)

By Deborah L. Mandel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Write as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Write teaches you how to organize a writing group and includes tips on writing and constructive critiquing. Mandel, with her background as a writer, copyeditor, writing group member, and psychotherapist, offers concrete how-to advice on how to maximize the effectiveness of a writing group for all members. This book is packed with writing tips, lessons, and group exercises that can be immediately put to work.

INCLUDING:

writing tips writing lessons and group exercises

Well-done, concise, organized. I could have used these chapters as a lesson plan for my high school writing classes. —J. Ellis

Starting a successful writing group…


Book cover of Dread Island: A Classics Mutilated Tale

James L.P. Thompson Author Of Voidoxity: The Eternal King

From my list on realms of magic, mystery, and monsters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Canadian author and artist that loves to write and draw the darker side of fantasy. Ever since I was a child, I have adored mythology, horror, and the creatures and worlds that are present within the fantasy genre. The world of fantasy has unlimited imagination, and its lore and structure grow constantly, which gives endless ideas to us writers to create endless brilliant realms and the creatures that dwell within them.

James' book list on realms of magic, mystery, and monsters

James L.P. Thompson Why did James love this book?

Dread Island was an enjoyable read for me due to its mix of Lovecraftian horror intertwined with the old tales of Huckleberry Fin. The way Joe R. Lansdale depicted his version of the story was incredible and gave me the insight that anything can be made into a horror story. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror, especially Lovecraftian-style horror.

By Joe R. Lansdale, Menton Mathews III (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dread Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Limited to remaining stock on hand! This "Monster Lit" mash-up novella from modern horror master Joe R. Lansdale, a highlight from the recent Classics Mutilated anthology, combines Lovecraft and Mark Twain in a way that can only be described as brilliant. Or, as Lansdale.


Book cover of Feathers for Lunch

Jorey Hurley Author Of Nest

From my list on birds for little kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

While developing Nest, I lived in the Presidio National Park. A plum tree grew right outside the kitchen window and I had a year-round view of the robins living there. Those backyard birds were magical - from their flying and singing to their feathers and eggs. Spending hours watching them while cooking inspired me to share their world with my world. I have a degree in art history from Princeton and a law degree from Stanford. I worked as a textile designer in New York before going out on my own as an author and artist. Currently, I share a studio with my architect-husband and I draw every day.

Jorey's book list on birds for little kids

Jorey Hurley Why did Jorey love this book?

Although many of Lois Ehlert’s works are now classics, I wasn’t familiar with her work until I was an adult. Her illustration style and simplicity of her books have had a big impact on my work. This book about the greatest enemy of backyard birds (the housecat) is graphically gorgeous and (spoiler alert) ends with a hungry cat and all the birds unharmed. 

By Lois Ehlert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Feathers for Lunch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An escaped house cat encounters twelve common birds in the backyard but captures only feathers for lunch. Includes bird guide. “Destined to become an uncontested favorite with many children and adults.”--The Horn Book


Book cover of Modern Operating Systems

Philipp Fehre Author Of JavaScript Domain-Driven Design

From my list on learning from programming classics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Computers have fascinated me since my childhood, having fond memories of my dad's ZX81, but even so I played around I was never truly captured by the programming until I recognized it as a way of writing rather than raw engineering. Through my studies of media sciences I found my fascination with how language can shape perception, and through my work in developer advocacy, I found how communities are shaped as well. Now I am fascinated with how different programming languages can shape thinking, having had the opportunity to solve problems at large companies in nonmainstream languages.

Philipp's book list on learning from programming classics

Philipp Fehre Why did Philipp love this book?

Not really a programming book, Modern Operating Systems has been influential for me to understand what I am working with.

When learning about how OSs do their job it is impossible to know everything, but having a rough picture and being able to know how and where to drill down further is what it is all about and this is where this book really shined for me. Even when never writing a driver or working with kernel code, knowing how the details fit together helps in estimating complexity.

The knowledge I got from this book more than once helped me recognize when something was too good to be true, or simplify complex software by working with not against the OS, in my opinion a must read for every programmer.

By Andrew S. Tanenbaum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modern Operating Systems as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Please Read Notes: Brand New, International Softcover Edition, Printed in black and white pages, minor self wear on the cover or pages, Sale restriction may be printed on the book, but Book name, contents, and author are exactly same as Hardcover Edition. Fast delivery through DHL/FedEx express.


Book cover of How's the Pain?

Daniel Ben-Horin Author Of Substantial Justice

From my list on funny international classics you (may) have not heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

Humor is based on surprise and the ‘foreign’ is often surprising. As I traveled all over the world for work, I searched out local authors and found myself laughing. It started with At Swim Two Birds and has never stopped.

Daniel's book list on funny international classics you (may) have not heard of

Daniel Ben-Horin Why did Daniel love this book?

I like to read thrillers set in countries I'm visiting, and so I randomly picked up How's the Pain? billed as “French Noir”.  The title alone is almost worth the price of admission.

It is supposedly the standard greeting among some African tribesmen. Beats the existential pants off “How are you?”, don’t you think? The writing fulfills the title’s promise. It is tight and funny, brutal in parts, but doesn’t succumb to some noir’s tendency to gratuitously pile on the awfulness of it all. 

By Pascal Garnier, Emily Boyce (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How's the Pain? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How's the Pain? is an off-kilter, blackly comic novel about an unlikely duo of a soon-to-be-retired assassin and a deadbeat young man, from the 'slyly funny' [Sunday Times] Pascal Garnier.

'Deliciously dark ... painfully funny' New York Times

Death is Simon's business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die. But he still has one last job down on the coast, and he needs a driver.

Bernard is twenty-one. He can drive and he's never seen the sea. He can't pass up the chance to chauffeur for Simon, whatever his mother may say. As the unlikely pair set…


Book cover of The Madman's Daughter

Samantha Gillespie Author Of The Kingdom Within

From my list on young adult retellings that capture the imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reader and an author, I prefer young adult novels because they tend to focus more on character growth and development than other genres, but I’m particularly drawn to both historical and fantasy period pieces in books and film. The medieval ages especially, with their castles and feudalistic way of life, have always fascinated me. This fascination was largely filled by reading and watching fairy tales and novel adaptations while growing up. Nowadays, I gravitate toward retellings like a moth to the flame, as I get to relive stories that have a special place in my heart in a fresh new way. 

Samantha's book list on young adult retellings that capture the imagination

Samantha Gillespie Why did Samantha love this book?

This atmospheric novel, a retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau, is a perfect blend of gothic romance and haunting mystery. It’s beautifully written, well-paced, and filled with unexpected twists. I love the feminist theme presented through the main character, Juliet, who is independent despite the hardships she endures, is not dissuaded from pursuing her passion for science even though it wasn’t proper for a woman to do so at the time. There is also an underlying theme throughout the book that expertly juxtaposes sanity and madness, eliciting the question of where the line should be drawn.

By Megan Shepherd,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Madman's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

For fans of Libba Bray, this first book in a gothic suspense trilogy is inspired by H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau and has been hailed by New York Times bestseller Carrie Ryan as having "beautiful writing, breakneck pacing, a pulse-pounding mystery, and an irresistible romance."

Following accusations that her scientist father gruesomely experimented on animals, sixteen-year-old Juliet watched as her family and her genteel life in London crumbled around her—and only recently has she managed to piece her world back together. But when Juliet learns her father is still alive and working on a remote tropical island,…


Book cover of Starfarers

Allen Steele Author Of Coyote

From my list on lost classics of space science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Okay, so you’ve read Dune, you’ve read Starship Troopers, you’ve read 2001: A Space Odyssey, and maybe you’ve even read From Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon. Seen the movies, too (or maybe you cheat and say you’ve read the books when you’ve only seen the flicks). Bet you think that makes you an expert on science fiction about space, right? Not even close! If you want to read more than just the well-known classics everyone else has, find these books. Some have become obscure and are now out of print, but they’re not hard to find; try ABE, eBay, and local second-hand bookstores. They’re worth searching for, and then you’ll really have something to talk about.

Allen's book list on lost classics of space science fiction

Allen Steele Why did Allen love this book?

Before writing this little gem, the author produced some of the most notable Star Trek novelizations. Then she decided to create her own version of Star Trek and do the stuff she couldn’t do there. The first volume of a series, it kicks things off when the science crew of the good ship Starfarer, upon learning that their brand-new ship is about to be turned over to the military and become a warship, decides to take matters in their own hands and hijack their own starship. Space adventure at its best. 

By Vonda N. McIntyre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the first in the Starfarers series of novels, the commander of the Starfarer spacecraft, scientist Victoria MacKenzie, must battle her own commanders on Earth to keep on her mission to find extraterrestrial life. Reissue.


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