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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
I'm guessing you'll be spending some of the holidays reading. After all, writers are readers!
I'm a Kindle addict and this year, I was determined to review as many books as possible so I have been logging them on Goodreads all year. I read 2-3 books per week and did manage to review quite a lot of them. You can friend me on Goodreads here if you like as I will be repeating the exercise in 2013.
Please leave your best book recommendations in the comments – because we're all readers round here!
I felt guilty for years – that I wasn't a team player, that I liked being alone, that I didn't like crowds or parties, that I couldn't make small talk. In the last few years I have recognized my introvert self and now understand why I am how I am. I know there are many of you that are introverts too, or you will have them in your family. This book will help you understand and appreciate the introvert in your life. Fantastic book.
This book is a serious challenge for any creative who wants to be considered a professional in their chosen sphere. Pressfield holds nothing back and this book seriously kicked my ass. He takes the excuses we all wheel out sometimes and blows them to pieces while telling of his own past, giving emotional resonance to some difficult life lessons. The book underscores the fact that turning pro is not for everyone, that there is considerable sacrifice. I was personally convicted on my habits and how distraction can sometimes ruin my creative time. Taking action on this book is difficult but necessary, and I start today. Highly recommended.
I've read many branding and marketing books and experimented with my own platform online for years but I still wrote 10 pages of notes from this book and have a long To Do list of things I need to improve. This will help you audit where you are right now and target where you want to get to. Michael has done a great job of making the information accessible and the reasons behind the tools are also explained. Recommended for people who are serious about expanding their online platform.
Michael also has an audio program, Get Published, that expands on the topics he covers in the book, which I also did and found useful.
It wouldn't be the holiday season without a post-gluttony health kick! This book finally helped me shift the extra weight I've carried for years 🙂 I've lost 8 kgs and it's still going slowly, primarily from going gluten free. The book is quite technical but it's worth sticking with because I've tried so many things over the years and the principles have really changed my physical health for the better. Try it for a month, you won't regret it. Seriously.
Fiction – Dark & Twisty
I realize that fiction recommendations are difficult because we all like different things! But here are some books I rated 5 stars this year that perhaps you might want to try. if you're dark and twisty like me. I read across a lot of genres but I am continually drawn to the darker side of life, so my recommendations won't be for everybody!
This book is original and compelling. I read it in two sittings as I found it hard to get out of my head. Timber Marlow is born and raised within a cult of cannibals in the wilds of America. It is normal to butcher and eat the human flesh and the descriptions of the Sustenance rituals are gruesome, but you just can't tear your eyes away. Timber escapes to the Outside and the story continues there as she is hunted down. Lastrapes keeps you reading by giving hints of the horrors to come. His writing is skillful and incredibly convincing. Definitely don't read it before bed if you're alone.
Chuck Wendig can seriously write a great metaphor – his language is stunning and original and I'm always re-reading lines to try and fathom the layers. This is definitely horror with a suitably violent and nasty serial killer hunting young girls, mutilating and murdering them. Miriam Black, with her visions of how people die tries to change the fates of the girls she meets by hunting down the killers. But is her gift, or curse, beginning to twist her mind into madness? It's hard to tell as Miriam is one crazy chick, but a brilliant character. There's kick-ass action scenes as well as psychological weirdness. Highly recommended, but don't read last thing at night …
I've tried to read a few Mieville books but this is the one that entranced me the most. Set on a floating city of ships with all manner of races on, Scar is a kind of quest story but draws you into this imaginary world. I found the Lovers to be compelling and the writing beautiful. This is a brilliant book – definitely one to read. Highly original.
This is a technothriller with WWII bad guys, nanotechnology and a killer fungal plague that combines hardcore science with a fast paced plot that definitely kept me reading. It also managed what so many thrillers fail on – it kept me guessing until the very last few pages as to how it would end. The author is a scientist but it's not dry. I actually found mycology fascinating! A recommended read for fans of Michael Crichton.
Every bit as good as people have said it is. Characters drawn like only King can, unremarkable people that become remarkable over the book. A plague kills 99% of humanity and the people left in America are drawn in two ways – to the dark man, the walking dude – or the old black woman, Mother Abagail, embodiments of the ancient fight between good and evil. I read the re-issued version with less edits but it was still compelling, driving me to spend long sessions reading with growing horror. Excellent book with some deep and meaningful lessons about what humanity is really like when the proverbial hits the fan.
I love Matt Reilly's books. If you want to get out of your head and into an adventure where you have no time to think at all, then read Scarecrow and Matt's other books. This one is a cracker and he takes the concept of making things worse for your characters very seriously. The stakes are ratcheted higher and higher with every turn of the page.
Scarecrow is a great character and he still has his hardcore sidekick Mother and we meet a new french love interest who is just as kick-ass as Scarecrow. I hope we'll be seeing more of her. The book is tightly plotted and I love the design of Dragon Island. There is a torture/death scene that is pretty nasty but generally the book is action-adventure all the way. I skipped over those pages as they were too graphically violent, but I loved the rest of the book. Recommended!
If you like my taste in fiction, you might like to try my books …
Oxford educated, British born J.F.Penn has traveled the world in her study of religion and psychology. She brings these obsessions as well as a love for action and adventure to her writing.
Her fast-paced ARKANE thrillers weave together historical artifacts, secret societies, global locations, violence, a kick-ass protagonist and a hint of the supernatural.
Available on ebook stores:
Please leave your best book recommendations in the comments – because we’re all readers round here!