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Journalism books

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Double J, Aug 6, 2006.

  1. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    Whenever I'm in bookstores, I invariably look up books about writing but have yet to buy one because I'm never sure if they're really helpful or if I'd just be flushing my money down the toilet.

    I was recently talking to a colleague who suggested I pick up three books in particular. I trust his opinion but I'd also like to know what others think about these books. They are:

    "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser
    "The Art and Craft of Feature Writing" by William Blundell
    "Elements of Style" by Strunk and White

    Any constructive input would be appreciated. :)
  2. tenacious_g

    tenacious_g Member

    I'm not speaking from experience because I've never read it myself, but for whatever it's worth, I have heard from at least two people who suggest "On Writing Well"
  3. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    I'll go with the "flushing your money" option.

    The best way to build writing skills by reading is to read good writing, not tips on how to write well.

    Unfortunately, there are fewer options today. When newspapers were edited more thoroughly and when Sports Illustrated focused on writing and not juvenile idiocy, a lot more options were available.

    So I'd suggest finding a writer whose style you like and then trying to imitate that.

    If you want some suggestions:

  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Have never read the first two books, so can't comment on them.

    I'll agree with part of Dye's advice -- the part about reading good writing, and imitating the style of good writers. READ, READ, READ.

    But "The Elements of Style" is absolutely worth the money. Every writer needs to read this one, no matter what kind of writing you do.

    Another very, very good writing book is "On Writing" by Stephen King. It's an excellent part-memoir/part-instructional aid about making a living as a writer. And it applies to journalists just as much as it does to novelists. Very fine book.
  5. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Have read all three at some point or another. First two were not bad, but nothing really stuck with me.

    Strunk & White is ESSENTIAL to keep above your desk. There was a book written in a similar vein, "The Elements of Journalism" but it's more about the work of a journalist than the writing.

    My personal favorite, and a very easy read, is "The Writer's Rules" by Helen Gurley Brown (of Cosmo fame). It's geared toward magazine writers, but there are very good rules for all writers.
  6. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    I don't get the impression that he's looking for a "how to" book to learn about writing. David Ortiz doesn't take batting practice to learn how to hit.
  7. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Says the guy who says a degree is essential for getting a gig in this business. ::)
  8. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    A great book on grammar/writing is "Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English" by Patricia T. O'Conner. Get the 2004 paperback edition ($11 on Amazon). It is definitely worth reading (although I haven't finished it yet)
  9. "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser, for sure.
  10. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah Meatie Pie, I don't get it. You ranted on and on in that jobs thread about having a degree, yet in the course of getting that degree are you not supposed to get better through, um, actual college courses that might involve reading some decent books? Or are you just supposed to have "it" and not hone the craft whatsoever? That's too damn arrogant for me.
  11. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    Thanks, Cadet, and you're right. Just interested in something that might help me refine whatever skills I may have.

    Just to clarify, I didn't go to university or to J-school, so I haven't had the chance to read these or similar books in any kind of educational setting.
  12. Satchel Pooch

    Satchel Pooch Member

    You're not going to morph into Mark Twain after reading it, but Eats, Shoots and Leaves was fun.
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