It’s the end of 2018, meaning that my reading project is coming to a close.
For those of you coming to this blog for the first time via this post, or those of you that have been coming by but have no idea as to what the hell I’m doing, some backstory:
I wrote a travel book. A Great American Road Trip Story.
And realized that I didn’t know the market very well. And that I had no idea how to go about editing my own book. And what collectively made “good writing” and how I could improve my own writing through my edits, aside from following my gut. And what, specifically made “good” travel writing. And what would make my book have a market stickiness while also conveying what I wanted it to convey.
So I made a “Get the Goddamned Book Done” syllabus.
See, I am terrible at keeping to an editing schedule. I’m terrible at keeping on task.
But I love school. I’m good at school. And part of that is because you’re taking a huge project (like my Master’s thesis) and breaking it into manageable steps.
I theorized that if I created an editing and reading schedule in a year-long syllabus format and called it a syllabus, that it would make my intimidation about tackling this huge project and render it powerless.
I was mostly right. My reading got done. My blogging got done. My “activities” to move my understanding of the market I was attempting to enter or to complete steps that would further my own understanding of my book got done.
(Editing came along later, as I was still quite intimidated by that. But now it’s moving along.)
Looking back at this syllabus, everything I did, everything I learned, I feel like I came so far, that I have grown immensely as a writer, an editor, and a reader. That I understand so much more about things that I could barely grasp at the beginning of the year.
It’s pretty great.
So I’m doing it again. Updated, of course. New things to do, new books to read. One can never stop trying to grow. I’m in the middle of assembling a new reading list and hope to have that done and my first round of books ordered (and delivered!) by the beginning of January.
In the meantime, here are lists of what I read.
Travel Books (and their corresponding blogs)*
- Baghdad Sketches – Freya Stark
- The Nomad – Isabella Eberhardt
- Travels in West Africa – Mary Kingsley
- Love Among the Butterflies – Margaret Fountaine
- The Land of Little Rain – Mary Hunter Austin
- The Cruise of the Rolling Junk – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Life on the Mississippi – Mark Twain
- The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
- Interstate – Julian Sayarer
- The Kindness of Strangers – Tim Cahill (no blog, as it was an anthology)
- Midnight in Siberia – David Greene
- Not Afraid of the Fall – Kyle James
- Roads – Larry McMurty
- Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
- Tracks – Robyn Davidson
- Full Tilt – Dervla Murphy
- A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Rebecca Solnit
- What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding – Kristin Newman
- Harley and Me – Bernadette Murphy
- America Day by Day – Simone Beauvoir
- Chick Flick Road Kill – Alicia Rebensdorf
- Guidebook to Relative Strangers – Camille T. Dungy
- Maiden Voyages – Mary Morris (no blog, as it was an anthology)
- Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes
- Behind the Wall – Colin Thubron
- A Woman’s World – Marybeth Bond
- Bad Land – Jonathan Raban
- Terra Incognita – Sara Wheeler
- West with the Night – Beryl Markham
- Wild – Cheryl Strayed
- A Year in Provence – Peter Mayle
- Without Reservations – Alice Steinbach
- Blue Highways – William Least Heat-Moon
- The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux
- The Longest Road – Philip Caputo
- Stranger on a Train – Jenny Diski
- Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube – Blair Braverman
- The Dead Ladies Project – Jessa Crispin
- The Longest Way Home – Andrew McCarthy
- Between the Woods and the Water – Patrick Leigh Fermor
American Road Literary Theory Books
- The Editor’s Companion – Steve Dunham
- Developmental Editing – Scott Norton
- Style – Joseph Williams and Joseph Bizup
- On Writing Well – William Zissner
- An Insider’s Guide to Publishing – David Comfort
- Publishing 101 – Jane Friedman
- How to Write a Book Proposal – Michael Larsen
- Get a Literary Agent – Chuck Sambuchino
*Disclaimer: Some of these blogs are from the end of 2017, done before I made this whole project “official.” Am looping them in here to give them a home, assuming this project is ongoing. Also, PS, don’t worry–I read plenty of things other than travel and writing books this year. I just didn’t keep track of them.