OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you're having a wonderful time with your loved ones this holiday time. I'm excited to announce that The Creative Penn is, once again, one of the Top 10 Writer's Blogs based on over 2000 nominations. Thank you for your support of the site and I intend to make it even better in 2012!
Back to Christmas, I realize a number of you may have received ebook readers for Christmas so here are some gems I recommend you download for your new device today. Personally, I'm a bibliophile and voracious reader. I probably read 3-4 books a week these days across multiple genres and also a lot of non-fiction. My book consumption has at least tripled since I bought a Kindle over 2 years ago so I am a book devouring machine!
The Fear Index by Robert Harris. With the financial markets in flux, you can't resist this tech thriller. It's a departure from Harris' usual, more historical thrillers. Fascinating but also a great read. My full review here.
Worth Dying For – Lee Child. If you're a thriller fan and you like some kick-ass action with your lone vigilante justice, you must at least try one of Jack Reacher's adventures. My full review here. I'm hooked!
Daemon – Daniel Suarez. I LOVE this book and it's sequel, Freedom. When a multi-millionaire dies, he releases a game of sorts into the world. Human actions, news reports and events affect the path of the artificial intelligence but it can't be destroyed and soon all are sucked into this virtual reality world. It's a tech-thriller, fantastic reading. My full review here.
A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness. There's violence, romance, fantasy and lots of great locations (check out the French chateau!) Here's my review from Amazon.
I can't stand vampires, they make me squirm, but I was urged repeatedly to read this book! I'm so glad I did because once I got over the squeamishness, I was hooked (and skipped over the gory bits). I went to Oxford so I devour anything related to the University so the opening scenes in the Bodleian were fantastic as well the as Woodstock scenes. Diana is a good protagonist with varying shades of strength & vulnerability, resisting her magic while it relentlessly grows inside her. Her love interest, Matthew Clairmont is handsome and learned, charming and rich as all vampires must be. But he is also complex with a violent history that Diana must accept for their partnership to work. I liked the escalation of the action between the witches and the coming together of a group who will fight for the protection of their species. I loved Matthew's mother and old servant in their French ancestral home, marvellous! What I didn't like was getting to the end and finding it was a trilogy! I like self-contained books, I hate waiting, but I will be buying the next one of these. Definitely.
The Hunger Games – Susanne Collins. This is the first in a truly awesome trilogy. Far superior to Harry Potter in terms of a YA crossover. Definitely read before the series is made into a movie next year. I discuss why the books are so amazing and the lessons for writers here.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern. A magical book, you can sink away on gorgeous visualizations of the world created in this whimsical circus. It deserves the accolades it is receiving. It leaves you desperately wanting to go there yourself.
Origin – JA Konrath. The Devil is in a deep sleep and is being held in a secret government bunker. Then he wakes up. What could possibly go wrong? I love this book and it also fired my own enthusiasm to go indie with my books.
The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi. A multi-award winning sci-fi novel, this is more like a dream, albeit a slightly disturbing one.
and of course, don't miss Pentecost by Joanna Penn 🙂 61 reviews on Amazon.com averaging 4 stars. This is Dan Brown meets Lara Croft which a dash of Indiana Jones! The sequel Prophecy is coming next week!
On Writing – Stephen King. This is my favorite writing book because King blends his advice with the story of his life. It's more a memoir than a how-to book and he is one very interesting man! His recommendations include ‘bum glue' and cutting 10% when you edit.
The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch. You must read this. Seriously. It changed my life as it challenges you about your childhood dreams. Randy died of pancreatic cancer but not before this lecture touched millions. Break through your brick walls and achieve your dreams, for the grave awaits us all. We have a short time to achieve something. Get on with it! Watch one of my earliest videos as I review it here.
Do The Work – Steven Pressfield. After the inspiration of The Last Lecture, this book will kick your ass hard enough so you actually do the work. Stop moaning about how you never have time to write, how you're blocked or how hard life is. Shut and write. Just do the work! (but there's more to it, so it's worth reading!)
There Are Other Rivers – Alastair Humphreys. I have always had itchy feet. Travelling is important for my mental health. Alastair takes this to the extremes as he is an adventurer by trade. This book is based on his walk across India but it's more a meditation on why we need to escape sometimes and how we can feel alive on the road. Here's my review on Amazon.
I'm one of those people who devour adventure books because vicariously I can be out there experiencing it too. In this book Alastair takes us on an internal journey as much as describing parts of his walk across India. It resonated with me deeply in parts, the need to be someone extraordinary, the desire to shed all physical possessions and just exist simply. I identify with the need to keep moving – I move every few years but I'm not as brave as Alastair. I also fell in love with India when I travelled there. It's one of those places I felt at home in so it was great to revisit some of those impressions through the eyes of such a seasoned traveller. I find myself strangely jealous of the freedom to sleep under the stars, to walk towards the setting sun, to take each day anew. If you sometimes feel this way, you'll love this book. Highly recommended.
I think this lot will keep you occupied into the New Year! Of course, if you haven't indulged in an e-reader yet, you can always buy the books in print.