If your house is anything like mine, there are books everywhere. Some shelves even have rows of paperbacks stacked behind other rows of books, which means that I can’t remember which ones are hidden, and couldn’t get to them even if I could recall their titles.
For now, though, let’s concentrate on two areas within easy reach, the reading table beside your bed and the place where you write.
Because I write mostly non-fiction, that’s what I generally read. The stack of books on my bedside table as I write this includes a mix: Cormac McCarthy’s Cities of the Plain; Mark Bowden’s The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden; Douglas Waller’s Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage; and Lawrence Scanlan’s The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World’s Greatest Racehorse.
(Analogous to bedside table books are the audio books on my iPod. I just finished David McCullough’s National Book Award winner The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914 and cued up John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers novel Mad River.)
These are the books I read.
More telling, though, might be the books that I use every day, the ones beside my computer, lined up like soldiers waiting to be called into action:
The two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (everyone needs a good dictionary, and this is one of the best); The Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus; The Chicago Manuel of Style (the guide required by my publisher); The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (the style Bible for people who write for magazines); two different editions of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style (if you’re going to rely on one general usage stylebook, this is the one); Bill Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words; and Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Which books do you read? Which ones do you use in your writing?
Note from Ambrosia: Made me smile to know I am not the only one with rows of hidden books