Reading while writing

Books on writing and creativity I’ve been loving lately.

I may have told this story before, but once, when I was a kid reading in bed, my sister burst into my room to say “Your room is on fire you idiot!” Which wasn’t strictly true. It was just my beloved rabbit puppet which, in an early attempt at decor, I had sat atop my reading lamp. It was smouldering by my head, in a smokey-melt-slow-sizzle that will be familiar to anyone who has accidentally set a stuffie on fire. I can smell it to this day.


That’s how I rolled with reading. I know I’m not alone.

Last week Pastor Michelle preached (see page 36 in The Minister’s Wife), and mentioned that she grew up with her nose in a book, doing poorly at gym class. Even though I was a surprise dodgeball aficionado, I too was better at reading than just about anything else. I told her I would have really liked her if we’d been in the same class, even if I might not have shown it at the time. We reader-sport-failures-bespectacled-gym-class-avoiders didn’t always gravitate to each other, maybe realizing being in a pack wouldn’t have helped. I’m not sure.

But the books in which I’ve had my nose stuck recently have been to do with writing, creativity, art and faith. I had the privilege of working with Renew Arts + Theology on an evening about truth telling in writing. It went well, except for when the power went out in our old, old house. Thankfully, it was during a writing break and Brent was upstairs and heard my hysterical holler, and ran downstairs to the fuse box and fixed everything.

This is what vanity and an amazon ring light does to people who live in houses where you can’t boil and toast at the same time.

I gave the beautiful writers and artists who came to the webinar a quick peek at a slide of the books that  helped me prepare. They asked for a longer look. (I was probably pretty eager to stop screen sharing by then, as it still feels like a technological stretch). So, here it is, and listed below for anyone thinking these days about all those busy, lively intersections between writing and faith and art.

  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Art + Faith by Makoto Fujimura
  • How to be an Artist by Jerry Saltz
  • Write Better by Andrew Le Peau
  • The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
  • Still Writing by Dani Shapiro
  • Charitable Writing: Cultivating Virtue Through Our Words by Richard Hughes Gibson and James Edward Beitler III
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Wisdom from Babylon by Gordon T. Smith
  • For the Beauty of The Church by W.David O. Taylor
  • Devotions by Mary Oliver

Happy reading and happy creating!


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