Need writing inspiration? Shake things up with a genre-spanning book haul.

Looking for some writing inspiration? It’s easy to become focused on reading only your favourite genres, but by mixing things up and exploring different styles you’ll gain a fresh perspective and hopefully some new ideas. Grab a coffee, dig in and then get thee to your friendly local book store posthaste!

  1. The Peregrine
    Thanks to Werner Herzog for pointing me, and everyone else who wants to be like him, to J.A. Baker‘s study in writing and amateur ornithology, The Peregrine. It’s required reading for budding filmmakers, along with books by Ernest Hemingway and Virgil, if you plan on attending Herzog’s Rogue Film School. I’ll be paying attention to the author’s capacity for detail and we’ll see if Baker’s transformation, as he becomes his subject, moves me as much as it did one of the most fascinating auteurs of our time.
  2. The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories
    While drinking bourgeois craft beer and talking about the good old punk days with a former co-worker, the band NOFX came up. I’ll admit that I snubbed these guys for being too cool and mainstream at first, but I eventually shed that useless snobbery (I used to like stuff that I didn’t really like just because nobody else liked it… how lame). Written with the help of Jeff Alulis, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories will have me either digging my skateboard out of storage or simply thankful that I made it out of the ’80s relatively unscathed! This one should move me to revisit my own memoir and tidy it up a bit more.
  3. Pattern Recognition
    I love William Gibson. I was hooked after reading the first sentence of Neuromancer. His was the first fiction I had read that put me in the same mood as when I watched Blade Runner for the first time in 1981. <brag> He also retweeted one of my newspaper stories back in 2011 about the Japanese tsunami. *ahem*</brag> I disagree with a lot of the current interpretations of the cyberpunk genre, but Gibson’s books have always nailed it in my opinion. He’s part speculative fiction author, part seer. I’ll have to put together an appropriate ambient playlist for Pattern Recognition, or let SomaFM handle that for me. Take notes as you’re reading, because Gibson never fails to inspire our own dystopic visions. I said mix it up, but don’t abandon your favourite reading entirely.
  4. A Voice in the Wild
    A journalist who moved to a place I dream of and went off grid with her family? Write more books so I can live vicariously through you, Laurie Sarkadi! I can’t wait to dig into A Voice in the Wild but I have to get it back from my wife first! There was a brief period in the mid-nineties in which I worked in the Northwest Territories. I was a relative stone’s throw from Yellowknife, but I never quite made it that far. That land, along with the rest of Canada’s north, has enchanted me since and I expect to be drawn wholly into this memoir and be inspired to complete my own.
  5. Seeing the Light
    Mary, with whom I’m wedded to for nearly 19 years (poor woman…), was the recipient of E.C. Bell‘s Seeing the Light, which I purchased from the PureSpec Convention earlier this summer in Edmonton. Mystery books are more Mary’s fare, but over the years she has softened me to the genre and we’ll give it the book club treatment and talk about it together once I finish reading it. Hey, it involves the paranormal so that has piqued my interest already! It’s something completely different for me so I hope it sparks something fresh in my own writing.
  6. On Spec Magazine
    On Spec Magazine has been around for a while and as I began planning for Ars Fantastica (actually when I first started writing years ago) I checked out this Canadian SF gem. While my book isn’t SF my short stories would align with On Spec’s vision, but I’d have to repeatedly edit them, ignore everything new that I’m working on and then begin the whole pitch process–all with no guarantees! Ah, the writing life. To cut this short, it’s time I caught up with On Spec again, so I grabbed a handful of some recent editions. With a diversity of authors and formats, an anthology like this will truly mix up your reading list.
  7. Future Fables and Strange Stories
    Pure Spec was the first event that I had attended representing Ars Fantastica. I never had any trouble passing my business card around to people I had just met while I was reporting for newspapers, but I felt oddly weak in front of people when I was trying to promote myself and this site. So when I grabbed a copy of Future Fables and Strange Stories I neglected to mention that I was going to post about it here, nor did I engage in the same conversational arc I would have when I was writing for the arts section. As such I know very little about the author (identified as simply I.B. on the cover) or the publisher of this book, but I’ll quickly devour it. I love anthologies! Also, they have really cool artwork, bookmarks and stickers. #JudgingABookByItsCoverIsNotWrong!
  8. What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank
    Krista D. Ball was the first author I met and had the guts to annoy at Pure Spec. She has thus far taken it all in stride and grace. Thank you for your patience, Krista! If you want to understand the business of writing and what it takes to make this your career, you should check out her Patreon. I downloaded What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank via the Edmonton Public Library eBook system, an historical primer on food and drink in fantasy fiction. I’m reading it from a world-building perspective, but the humorous bits and period recipes compel me to get a little more interactive. If I survive the perils of my cooking ineptitude I might let you know how some of these recipes turned out.
  9. The Dragonlance Chronicles
    . I lost my copies over the years, but it’s time to revisit them since I’m involved in a D&D Twitch stream that briefly takes place in this iconic fantasy world. (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, get your verified twitter icons already!) Maybe it’s time you took another look at something you thought you outgrew and reacquaint yourself with what likely shaped your current writing style? I was heavily influenced by this series in my youth and I’m looking forward to revisiting the trilogy now and in the years to come. Thanks to Variant Edition for stocking the Chronicles in the used section and not gouging us with the same ridiculous prices I’ve seen these books go for recently elsewhere.

OK, that’s it for now. It’s a large stack of reading so maybe this won’t be a “weekly” list. We’ll see. Thanks for sticking around!

*There are no affiliate links here, so if you’re going to buy on Amazon, remember to click from your favorite Amazon affiliated websites!

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