10 books like Fearless Confessions

By Sue William Silverman,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Fearless Confessions. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Situation and the Story

By Vivian Gornick,

Book cover of The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

Sometimes I need a book that will inspire me not to continue writing, but to start; kinda like when I binge watch YouTube book talks—that’s the feeling this book brings over me—inspired. It’s a book that helps me write anything because I’m a person who struggles with—yet craves the ability to— strip a piece as bare as possible. Strip a story of its fluff and dissect its roots. I need to know what to save for later, and Gornick expressing the difference between situation and story is something I always go back to in order to help declutter my work. 

The Situation and the Story

By Vivian Gornick,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Situation and the Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A guide to the art of personal writing, by the author of Fierce Attachments and The End of the Novel of Love

All narrative writing must pull from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver a bit of wisdom. In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth.

How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal…


A Stranger's Journey

By David Mura,

Book cover of A Stranger's Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing

Master teacher David Mura’s A Stranger's Journey addresses long-overlooked issues of race and identity in publishing and in the standard teaching of creative writing and he brilliantly advocates for a more inclusive and expansive definition of writing craft. Though this book is partly aimed at educators, he offers incredibly useful craft lessons as well, primarily through his deft analysis of work done by writers ranging from James Baldwin to Mary Karr to ZZ Packer. In a world that no longer accepts the notion that our greatest authors have to be “dead white men,” Mura offers a necessary window into the intersection of race, literature, and culture.

A Stranger's Journey

By David Mura,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Stranger's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Long recognized as a master teacher at writing programs like VONA, the Loft, and the Stonecoast MFA, with A Stranger's Journey, David Mura has written a book on creative writing that addresses our increasingly diverse American literature. Mura argues for a more inclusive and expansive definition of craft, particularly in relationship to race, even as he elucidates timeless rules of narrative construction in fiction and memoir. His essays offer technique-focused readings of writers such as Junot Diaz, ZZ Packer, Maxine Hong Kingston, Mary Karr, and Sherman Alexie, while making compelling connections to Mura's own life and work as a Japanese…


You Can't Make This Stuff Up

By Lee Gutkind,

Book cover of You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction

Gutkind founded the journal Creative Nonfiction and has been a tireless advocate of the CNF genre for decades, as a writer, teacher, public speaker, and publisher. His nuts and bolts guidebook, You Can't Make This Stuff Up, offers a wide-ranging examination of the craft of writing true stories – dialogue, description, beginnings, endings, intimate detail, reflection, point-of-view, framing – as well as clear and helpful chapters about forming a writing habit and learning to live one’s life as a writer. Gutkind has generously packed decades of wisdom and knowledge into perhaps the most comprehensive nonfiction guide available.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

By Lee Gutkind,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Can't Make This Stuff Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From rags-to-riches-to-rags tell-alls to personal health sagas to literary journalism everyone seems to want to try their hand at creative nonfiction. Now, Lee Gutkind, the go-to expert for all things creative nonfiction, taps into one of the fastest-growing genres with this new writing guide. Frank and to-the-point, with depth and clarity, Gutkind describes and illustrates each and every aspect of the genre, from defining a concept and establishing a writing process to the final product. Offering new ways of understanding genre and invaluable tools for writers to learn and experiment with, You Can't Make This Stuff Up allows writers of…


The Art of Memoir

By Mary Karr,

Book cover of The Art of Memoir

This book is a blast to read and also packed with insight (the Holy Grail, no?) It’s a collection of short chapters on a wide range of questions that either a baby or seasoned memoirist might ask. How do I find my voice? How do I organize my material? Am I betraying my family? (When Karr asked her own mom if she minded being outed as a knife-wielding alcoholic who set her children’s toys on fire, Mrs. Karr apparently replied: “Oh hell, the whole town knew about that.”) Karr draws on her extensive experience as a best-selling memoirist and teacher of memoir, serving up hard-won wisdom and concrete practical advice. Reading The Art of Memoir is like trapping a celebrity genius in a hotel bar and getting the unvarnished version. You’ll love it.

The Art of Memoir

By Mary Karr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art of Memoir as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr's The Liars' Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well. For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and "black belt sinner," providing a unique window…


How to Be an Imperfectionist

By Stephen Guise,

Book cover of How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism

One of my favorite sayings (by G.K. Chesterton) is, “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” With these well-chosen words, Chesterton converted me to “imperfectionism.” It’s not that as imperfectionists we should aim to do things badly, but that we should aim to do necessary things and accept that we’re going to make mistakes on the way. Guise’s writing isn’t always elegant. However, he puts the case strongly that perfectionism is not something to humble-brag about, and is a “disorder of the mind.” More importantly, though, he offers detailed, practical, easy-to-implement steps for developing an imperfectionist mindset where we “lose our crippling fear of not doing [things] well.”

How to Be an Imperfectionist

By Stephen Guise,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Be an Imperfectionist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From an early age, kids are taught to color inside the lines, and any color that strays outside the lines is considered to be a mistake that must be avoided. Perfectionism is a naturally limiting mindset. Imperfectionism, however, frees us to live outside the lines, where possibilities are infinite, mistakes are allowed, and self-judgment is minimal.The old way to approach perfectionism was to inspire people to “let go” of their need for perfection and hope they could do it. The new way is to show people how simple but highly strategic "mini actions” can empower them to gradually and effortlessly…


The Spider's Thread

By Keith J. Holyoak,

Book cover of The Spider's Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry

In the 1980s and 1990s, Keith Holyoak and I collaborated on a series of articles and books about analogy, which is the underpinning of complex metaphors. His new book is a delightfully insightful discussion of metaphors in poetry, drawing not only on his deep knowledge of cognitive psychology but also on his experience as a highly published poet. Through analysis of great poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and many others, he illuminates how metaphors contribute to beautiful poems and to creativity in general.  

The Spider's Thread

By Keith J. Holyoak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spider's Thread as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An examination of metaphor in poetry as a microcosm of the human imagination—a way to understand the mechanisms of creativity.

In The Spider's Thread, Keith Holyoak looks at metaphor as a microcosm of the creative imagination. Holyoak, a psychologist and poet, draws on the perspectives of thinkers from the humanities—poets, philosophers, and critics—and from the sciences—psychologists, neuroscientists, linguists, and computer scientists. He begins each chapter with a poem—by poets including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke, Du Fu, William Butler Yeats, and Pablo Neruda—and then widens the discussion to broader notions of metaphor…


Metaphors We Live By

By George Lakoff, Mark Johnson,

Book cover of Metaphors We Live By

This book is about how we understand our language and our experiences, and how we make meaning. It sets out some of the theories that structure analysis of metaphor and language, and while it’s based on the authors’ research, it is an accessible introduction. This book will change the way you think about the language you use every day, often without a second thought.

Metaphors We Live By

By George Lakoff, Mark Johnson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Metaphors We Live By as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People use metaphors every time they speak. Some of those metaphors are literary - devices for making thoughts more vivid or entertaining. But most are much more basic than that - they're "metaphors we live by", metaphors we use without even realizing we're using them. In this book, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson suggest that these basic metaphors not only affect the way we communicate ideas, but actually structure our perceptions and understandings from the beginning. Bringing together the perspectives of linguistics and philosophy, Lakoff and Johnson offer an intriguing and surprising guide to some of the most common metaphors…


More Than Cool Reason

By George Lakoff, Mark Turner,

Book cover of More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor

Lakoff famously contends that metaphor is the crux of all human understanding. This classic academic, literary, philosophical, and sociological text suggests that at the root of what it means to be human is an absolute need to describe all experience and knowledge through comparison. Read More Than Cool Reason to begin gaining an appreciation for the theory of how metaphor makes us who we are and establishes our place in the universe.

More Than Cool Reason

By George Lakoff, Mark Turner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More Than Cool Reason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The authors restore metaphor to our lives by showing us that it's never gone away. We've merely been taught to talk as if it had: as though weather maps were more 'real' than the breath of autumn; as though, for that matter, Reason was really 'cool.' What we're saying whenever we say is a theme this book illumines for anyone attentive." - Hugh Kenner, Johns Hopkins University

"In this bold and powerful book, Lakoff and Turner continue their use of metaphor to show how our minds get hold of the world. They have achieved nothing less than a postmodern Understanding…


The Complete Fairy Tales

By George MacDonald, U.C. Knoepflmacher,

Book cover of The Complete Fairy Tales

Lewis considered George MacDonald his spiritual father, having never met the man. He said that MacDonald introduced him to the gospel through his stories before he even knew that that’s what was happening. How? Metaphor. George MacDonald knew of God’s love more than most and did his best to share it with the world, deeply hidden in fairy tales, the kind of folklore that Lewis, Tolkien, and the rest of the Inklings loved so dearly.

The Complete Fairy Tales

By George MacDonald, U.C. Knoepflmacher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

George MacDonald occupied a major position in the intellectual life of his Victorian contemporaries. This volume brings together all eleven of his shorter fairy stories as well as his essay "The Fantastic Imagination". The subjects are those of traditional fantasy: good and wicked fairies, children embarking on elaborate quests, and journeys into unsettling dreamworlds. Within this familiar imaginative landscape, his children's stories were profoundly experimental, questioning the association of childhood with purity and innocence, and the need to separate fairy tale wonder from adult scepticism and disbelief.


How to Grow Your Own Poem

By Kate Clanchy,

Book cover of How to Grow Your Own Poem

Even if you don’t want to be a poet, there’s something about playing with poetic form that I think is useful to any writer because it enables you to explore the use of rhythm, metaphor, simile and other ways of honing your consciousness into literary and written form. It demands specificity of description and uniqueness of voice, and Kate Clanchy’s book - she is herself a published poet, writer but also a teacher - gets to the nub of it through examples and exercise, to emerge a more fluent and confident writer, and in whichever form you choose.

How to Grow Your Own Poem

By Kate Clanchy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Grow Your Own Poem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you want to write a poem? This book will show you 'how to grow your own poem' . . .

Kate Clanchy has been teaching people to write poetry for more than twenty years. Some were old, some were young; some were fluent English speakers, some were not. None of them were confident to start with, but a surprising number went to win prizes and every one finished up with a poem they were proud of, a poem that only they could have written - their own poem.

Kate's big secret is a simple one: is to share other…


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