Wednesday, 3 October 2012

On the Bookshelf

Most writers I know have a collection of writing books that they turn to or books have inspired them and been helpful in some way with their writing. Of course these books may not all be books about writing. Sometimes they may be novels or poetry that strikes a chord because they are so honest, or beautifully written, or such great examples of well-drawn complex characters. So I thought I’d share few of the myriad books that are on my shelves. Some of them are by Christians others are not. They are in no particular order but more as they come to mind as I glance around the room.

Writing Books

Walking on Water - Madeleine L’Engle. This is one of my absolute favourites.

Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott

Write His Answer - A Bible Study for Christian Writers - Marlene Bagnull

Indelible Ink - 22 International Christian writers discuss the books that shaped their faith – compiled by Scott Larsen

Shouts and Whispers - twenty one writers speak about their writing and their faith –edited by Jennifer L Holberg

A Writer’s Book of Days – Judy Reeves

Walking on Alligators - A Book of Meditations for Writers - Susan Shaughnessy

The Invisible Child - Katherine Paterson

The First Five Pages - Noah Lukeman

The Plot Thickens - Noah Lukeman

Wild Minds - Natalie Goldberg

Escaping into the Open - Elizabeth Berg

How to read a Novelist - John Freeman

I’ve just finished reviewing this and among the interviews with a host of well known writers, it has some interesting practical information. You can find my review here

Take Joy - Jane Yolen


Rilke Selected Poems – English translations by CF Macintyre. I picked this up second hand for a couple of dollars at a Lifeline book sale. What a bargain!

Far from Home - Poems of Faith, Grief and Gladness - Andrew Lansdown

Birds in Mind –Australian Nature Poems – Andrew Lansdown

Flame Tree - Kevin Hart

Other Non Fiction Books I Treasure

John Doe Disciple – sermons of Peter Marshall

Mr Jones Meet the Master – sermons and prayers of Peter Marshall

My first experience of Peter Marshall was watching the film A Man Called Peter with Richard Todd and then reading Catherine Marshall’s story of her husband. So well did Richard Todd play the part of Peter in the movie that when I read the sermons, it is his voice I always hear in my head. I have most of the Catherine Marshall books.

Another author have myriad books of is Madeleine L’Engle. I may not always agree with everything she says, but she makes me think more deeply, a bit like our own Anne Hamilton. I’ve just finished reading one of her books for the third time.

God’s Poetry – The Identity and destiny encoded in your name – Anne Hamilton


The Friendly Persuasion Jessamyn West

I bought this book after I saw the movie, Friendly Persuasion. It remains my favourite movie and one of my favourite books. I would have liked Except For Me and Thee written by the same author and concerning the same family but I haven’t got it yet. I'm working on it.

Nine Days by Toni Jordan. From a writerly point of view, this is a great example of voice. The story is told in nine chapters each in first person from a different family member over a span of years. Be warned though some chapters contain a little strong language, which seems sadly to be so much a part of today’s books. If you can ignore that, it is worth reading as a writer to learn about voice.

Caleb’s Crossing - Geraldine Brooks. Again this is another which impressed me with its story and voice, though sadly I don’t have this one on my shelves... yet. It’s coming.

I’ve never been one to confine myself to reading only Christian fiction. I read widely so the bookshelves also include a raft of other authors including Nicholas Sparks, Fannie Flagg, Jodi Picoult, Gail Godwin and many others as well as some Aussie Christian fiction authors including Paula Vince and Mary Hawkins.

And there is one book I turn to often, but it does not live on the bookshelf but on the desk, the table near the armchair or wherever I happen to be at the time and that is the Bible.  Where else can you find a book with true stories, poetry, stories, action, prophecy, proverbs and wisdom, symbolism, and picture language,  songs, dreams and their interpretations, etc not to mention the fact that it is the way God speaks most clearly to His people. Through the bible we are introduced to the ultimate hero – Jesus.
Dale writes and reads fiction and poetry. Her latest novel Streets on a Map, was published by Ark House Press.  Prior to that Dale has had seven children’s books and Kaleidoscope a collection of poetry published. Many of the poems in Kaleidoscope have been previously published in Australia’s literary magazines. She has won prizes for her poetry and has been published in several anthologies.
More information about Dale can be found at or on her Write and Read with Dale blog


  1. Excellent post, Dale - thanks so much! Loads of great ideas for more books to read, plus you obviously have excellent taste, since the very first two books you included on writing would be the first I'd put too! I really enjoy Madeleine L'Engle's writing and others you mention, but you've listed lots more I'm dying to investigate as well. I have a writer friend who has all of Catherine Marshall's books, so I will pass your blog on to her.

  2. Interesting list, Dale. Like you I read widely with not only Christian books on my shelf. This gives me exposure to all sorts of writing styles.

  3. Thanks for sharing Dale. Great to have a peek at your favourites. I too read widely and borrow about 25 books each time I visit our local library. Our bookshelves are crammed full of books since my husband too is an avid reader.

    I remember reading 'A man called Peter' and being inspired by it. Congratulations too on all your writing successes.
    Blessings and thanks,

  4. Thanks Jo-Anne, Rita and Anusha and glad I've inspired you to check out some others you may not have heard of, Jo-Anne. I agree it's important to be exposed to a wide variety of writing, Rita Wow 25 books, Anusha. Wish I still belonged to a libary that did that! These days I am limited to 12 unless I put some on my husband's card which is often the case.

  5. Wow! So many books you've mentioned I've never read, Dale. Because I have always enjoyed book about relationships, the majority of my books on the shelves are either romance novels - both Christian and secular - or books with romantic elements. Unfortunately my secular romance "keepers" nowadays are mainly much older books as they have become more and more explicit in content - and language too I am sad to have to say. There are many "How to Write" books on my shelves I'm added over the years but thought I should mention two only released in recent years that are really excellent and up-to-date - especially for novelists like myself. "A Novel Idea" (Tyndale publisher) has contributions from many best-selling authors on many different topics. I recently bought "Plot & Structure" by James Scott Bell published by Writer's Digest Books. Still haven't finished studying it yet but is excellent and very practical.

  6. Thanks for thos two tips of writing books, Mary. They both sound interesting too.Novels about relationships are among my favourites along with ones that make me think.