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Top ten books for writers to read this summer

The Broke and the Bookish

Beach reads offer inspiration for writers

You may be a writer but you’re a reader first and books lay claim to you. Whether you’re planning a trip to the beach, a hike to the mountains, or a runaway road trip from home, these books will not only engage and entertain you but also push, shove, and nudge your inner writer. Read for enjoyment but also read to discover.

  1. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Peter Susskind (translated by John Wood) – Susskind’s book should be on every writer’s bookshelf and be read by every writer. He built the entire architecture of a novel on a single sense. How he took scent and turned it into a crime novel is stunning.
  2. Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman – This is so worth reading for the opening alone. I love reading Hoffman for many reasons but the way she digs deep into herself and pulls out unique and original metaphors and imagery makes for a much more pleasurable read. When I read Turtle Moon, I know no one else will even come close to writing it the way she did. Great mystery, great atmosphere, great writing.
  3. The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel by Nancy Pickard – Nancy Pickard outdid herself in this one. Wait till you see what she does with a tornado. No mere plot prop for her. Reading The Virgin of the Small Plains proved to be an entertaining writing lesson, too.
  4. Promise Me (Myron Bolitar) by Harlan Coben – If you want to see how one writer massages a tiny off-the-cuff bit of dialogue and molds it into a whopping crime novel, read this book.
  5. The Empty Chair (Lincoln Rhyme Novels) by Jeffrey Deaver – There’s a lot to learn from Jeffrey Deaver in any book he writes; however, this one lives on in my memory and continues to instruct. The way Deaver carefully crafts one of the characters and then uses those characteristics to spin major plot details is well worth studying. This book provided me with a major Aha!
Beach books by Harlan Coben, Jeffrey Deaver, Peter Susskind and more

More beach reads for writers

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Any of Bradbury’s books are pure entertainment and full of instruction for writers even if you only marvel at the use of language. Fahrenheit 451 is a good novel any year and,  perhaps,  even better this summer. Give a nod and some time to this delightful man and entertaining writer who inspired so many readers and writers.
  2. Truth: A Novel by Peter Temple – This crime novel took center stage when it won Australia’s prestigious Miles Franklin award. South African writer Peter Temple relied on as many conventions as he defied.
  3. The Tenderness of Wolves: A Novel by Stef Penny – The writer’s debut novel won the 2006 Costa Book of the Year and and two years later won Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year award. It’s always good for a writer to explore new works that are capturing attention.
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Imagine writing about someone who is a mathematical genius but who has no grasp of human emotions. That alone is worth a read by any writer but throw in the aspect of a novel within a novel and you’ve got a hit.
  5. New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families by Colin Toibin – This essay collection will no doubt speak to many writers and may spark a new novel…much to the dismay of your family.

Note: Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted for the participants to create their own list. 

Use the comment section below to share your thoughts and experiences. (Links below.)
Ready to read the classics? Join The Classics Club. My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project.

  • IMAGE & IMAGE & AFFILIATE CREDITS: Book covers and titles are affiliate links and sourced via Amazon; Barefoot and Beach Reading copyright 2010 Vikk Simmons, all rights reserved

More links: Down the Writer’s Path Facebook Fan Page; My Squidoo page; My Pinterest page

Enjoy these posts

  • Meghan @ Coffee & Wizards

    I like that you’re looking at books from a writer’s perspective. That’s really cool!

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks, Meghan and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. This was a fun one to do. 

  • Li @

    Great list, I like the way you broke down your list. I’ve been meaning to read Farenheit 451 for ages (so bad, I know; and my brother’s been telling me for years to read it) as well as Perfume

    Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier =)

  • Denise Farmer

    Great list!  Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorite books of all time.  I also may have to check out the Alice Hoffman book.  It sounds pretty good!

  • Dixie

    despite being a mother myself, the title of number five is very intriguing.  also, loved The Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime…have you read his other book(s)?

  • Vikk Simmons

    I know. That title captures attention, doesn’t it. I’m looking forward to it. As for Mark Haddon, he would be a new writer for me. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Turtle Moon has to be my favorite book of hers. She really knows how to work that magical realism and work it into a good mystery. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    I’m surprised you know Perfume. So few do when I talk to them about it. It’s one of those books that left me in awe of the writer’s imagination. And Bradbury, well, he’s just Bradbury, y’know? Thanks for reading my list and sharing the books that interest you. 

  • April Books & Wine

    Oh! I really need to hurry up and read The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time. That seems like a book everyone has read except for me and look a good read outdoors kind of book.

  • Renee

    Your comments on “Perfume” intrigue me. I’ve seen the movie (pretty crazy!) but haven’t read the book. You’ve definitely made me want to check it out.

  • Melissa Haggerty

    I love how you did your top ten. I haven’t heard of these books but now they all have my interest, especially The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Virgin of Small Plains.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog!
    Melissa @ Reading It All

  • Clair D’Alby

    I love Fahrenheit 451- I read it at school and still remember it. I loved Curious Incident of the dog in the nighttime too. I like the sound of Truth: a novel too.

  • Vikk Simmons

    Somehow the fact that a movie was made escaped me; but then, I’m not known for my movie prowess. I’ll have to see if I can find it. I’d be curious as to how they manage to capture the first person POV and the whole scent dynamic. I would think that would be hard to do in film. Now I’m intrigued. :) 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks, Melissa and thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts on my list. I really was impressed by Pickard’s Virgin of the Small Plains. That tornado is such a huge turning point. Love to hear what you think when you’ve had time to read the book. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    So glad to find you enjoyed the books, too. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your own response to the books. 

  • Micheline Piche

    I now am going to have to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, so many friends have recommended it and now you too!

    Its def going to land a spot on my list!

  • LesYeuxHiboux

    I adored Perfume! One of the most memorable books I have ever read, and a great film to boot. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Let me know what you think when you’ve finished reading it. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Okay, I’m going to Amazon to see if  I can find the film. :) 

  • Heather@The Flyleaf Review

    LOVE Alice Hoffman! I was on a kick a few years back and read every book of her’s  I could get my hands on (including Turtle Moon.)  My favorites are The River King, The Probable Future and Practical Magic:) I enjoyed your list:)

  • Lauren @ Story Bound

    Fahrenheit 451 is a great book! I have also heard good things about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TIme. Thanks for sharing and for stopping by my blog!

  • Susanne

    Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorites! The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Truth sound great. Adding them to my to-read list.

  • FABRSteph

    Truth is a book that I have been meaning to read for some time.  This is a great list for any book lover.  I have yet to read Ray Bradbury.

  • HannahAlyse

    Perfume was INCREDIBLE! I love that this was on your list…It truly was so original turning scent into something so disturbing…amazing writing and story.

  • robynryle

    Great list.  I’m especially interested in the Colm Toibin, as I like his novels and have a family that is just itching to be novelized.  Thanks for stopping by.

  • Lark at The Bookwyrm’s Hoard

    I’ll have to try some of these, particularly “Turtle Moon.”  Thank you for the suggestions!

  • Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads

    I haven’t heard of most of these books, but I agree that Curious Incident would make a great beach read.  Light-hearted but profound =)

  • Mollyseddon

    I love the Mark Haddon book, want to try his new one. Need to read The Tenderness of Wolves in my TBR pile! Great list!

  • Nicole

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is on my list for the summer! Great list!

  • Vikk Simmons

    Hoffman is one of those few writes whose writing actually makes me weep. I remember having to stop at every page or so and simply take in her writing. Of course, and then I’d be overwhelmed by her gift and realize I would never reach that place where she goes no matter how much I tried. Her writing is unique to her. Turtle Moon remains a favorite for me even though many of her later books achieved more acclaim. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    You’re welcome. It’s always interesting to see which books grab the attention on a list. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is definitely doing that this week. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks for stopping by. I figured it wouldn’t be a list without a nod to the now late Ray Bradbury. I’m glad so many others are sharing their love for the book, too. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks! I’m glad you like the list. You’ll love Bradbury. Don’t shy away if he’s outside your genre. He’s such a good writer. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    I’m thrilled that a number of you have read Perfume and found it to be as an amazing experience as I did. That’s wonderful. Yes, disturbing is a good word for the book, as is compelling. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Uh oh, the family should beware. :) Thanks for your visit. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    You’re welcome. I’m glad Turtle Moon is finding so much interest. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks, and thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts on my list. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks! I’m glad you found a book worthy of the TBR file. Thanks for coming by. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks and thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts. The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time is apparently a real attention-grabber given the response to the list. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks, Jen. And thanks for stopping by. 

  • elena

    I’ve only read The Curious Incident and Fahrenheit 451 but I did enjoy those books. I’ve watched the film version of Perfume and it’s certainly an interesting story!

  • Claudia_Lit_Hitchhiker

    Seconding (x-ing. actually) the love for Perfume :) I like this idea, books for writers.

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