the daily reader/strong>, 365 selections of great prose and poetry to inspire a productive and meaningful writing life. By Fred White
I have a ton of assignments to mark, but everything else seems more interesting. Especially this book which surely is a cure for a writer’s block. Each page is divided into 3 parts: summary of a book, points for further reflection and “try this” – suggestions on what you can practice writing about.
Example, the entry on Jan 8 is about “Alexandria: City of the Western Mind” by Theodore Vrettos. White invites you, the reader to reflect on how a city like Alexandria, can prepare you in writing your own story, and describing the setting, the people and how life is organised. In “try this”, White suggests that the reader describes a scene based on Vrettos’s reference to Julius Caesar strolling with Cleopatra through the streets of Alexandria. Describe the citizens and try to capture as many sensory impressions as possible.
At other parts, White invites you to try writing a story in which individuals from two vastly different cultures or time-periods come together such as “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain. And if you think that time traveller stories are passe, recall “The Time Traveller’s Wife”.
All together, if you are searching for suggestions on what to read next, there are 365 ideas, from “The story of Jazz” by Marshall Stearns to “The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance” by Henry Petroski.
Did you know that a lead pencil while seemingly simple by today’s standards, involves an “exacting process employing a multiplicity of raw materials. And the materials depends on the most modern and cosmopolitan of political, economic and technological systems. The lead might be a mixture of two kinds of graphite, from Sri Lanka and Mexico, clay from Mississippi, gums from the Orient and water from Pennsylvania and the wooden case from western incense cedar from California.
From St Augustine to Nero, from “Coffee” to “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”, there’s a good selection of genres ending with “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler.
The stages of a hero’s journey can be traced to all kinds of stories. The book ends with Vogler’s depiction of story patterns as described by Joseph Campbell in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, how writers can construct a story using the 12 stages of the hero’s journey, including the call to adventure, crossing the first threshold, facing enemies, suffering ordeals and setbacks, and coming home.
How about writing your own, 100 stories that changed your life.