Kiran Manral’s Reading List for Writers
I’ve always believed that all your writing is the sum and the distillation of all your reading, therefore be prudent about what you choose to read because, what you read will impact your own work, in bits, pieces, flashes of a scene, a sudden shift in syntax, a quaint turn of phrase, the reflects of all that your brain has absorbed in the language and the narratives you’ve read will show. I’m guilty of it too. My earlier books have been far too influenced by a Wodehousian style, and I’ve alerted myself to it. But having said that, I think all writers need to read and all readers need not write. Therefore this is a list I think all writers need to have on their bookshelves.
Stephen King On Writing. His journey as a writer, and how to write. What better than to learn it from the master himself.
Self-editing for fiction writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. An essential skill every writer needs, how to read one’s own manuscript and edit it with an objective eye. Kill your darlings is a must.
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. A collection of priceless little essays that are inspirational for every writer.
Elements of Style. The nuts and bolts of writing. If you want to be a writer you need the tools of writing, and this book will help you smoothen out the edges of the tools of your trade.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami because this book is not just about the author’s journey to become a marathon runner, but is also a metaphor for his writing journey, the pushing of the self, the discipline, the commitment required.
Seven Sixes are Forty Three by Kiran Nagarkar for the sheer mastery with which the writer has strung together internal monologue, narrative and the discombulation into a piece of writing that makes you think and rethink all you know or think you know about the art of writing. And also Ravan and Eddie, also by Nagarkar for the sheer joy he brings to his writing that bursts through the page. Oh what the hell, everything by Nagarkar is a must read.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Because a writer needs words and more words and words put together in a way that will overwhelm you, take your breath away and make you realise the beauty that they can create when strung together.
Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale to learn how to undo the world you know and create a world you don’t. To look into the depth of human depravity and imagine how humankind can bring forth its most heinous sense of control over others.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess for the sheer scope of imagination into the dystopian, the realm created the language and syntax that is alien and yet so familiar because it harkens to the all too familiar language of evil.
Steering the craft by Ursula K Le Guin. This book had its genesis in a writing course Ursula K Le Guin gave aspiring writers. And it is a must read.
Macbeth by Shakespeare for the overarching human themes of ambition, greed, despair and guilt, and the fabulous use of atmosphere.