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Atlin Merrick Book Reviews

I absolutely can't read how-to books about writing.

Improbable Press Book ReviewsIt's like asking a caterpillar how she manages to control all those legs. Do that and, if she stops to think about it, she may never move again. Ever.

So reading books about writing does not help me with writing, unless help is defined by overwhelming ennui and a need to binge Great British Bake-Off.


Instead I read a lot of books about the things I write about.

When I was writing Sherlock Holmes stories for breakfast, lunch, and after-dinner dessert, I adored books about science, such as:

* The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective's Greatest Cases by E.J. Wagner,

* Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek, and

* The Rainbow Colors of Pee by Ashley Titan, because I—

—wait, what?

You're wondering about that last book you say? Well I did too, so when I had the opportunity to review it, you double-damn well believe review it I did. And review it I will here in future, complete with images of blue pee! So exciting.


Now I'm working on a book with Lee Harper over at History Bones and I'm reading books about Bass Reeves, the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River; Frances Glessner Lee, the 'mother of modern forensics' and creator of the Nutshell Studies; Joseph Merrick, who was also known as the Elephant Man (and from whom I take the name Merrick); Queen Nzinga, 17th-century ruler of what is now known as Angola; and lots more.

I want to know:

What are your writerly reads right now? What's fueling your writing or your brain, what's delighting you, what would you recommend?

Have a look at the comments for some great writerly recommendations; and please share yours. If you'd like to share a 200-300 word review as a guest blogger, do that too!

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  • G V Pearce on

    I’ve always loved Pratchett’s books but the ‘Science of the Discworld’ series has always inspired me to look at things differently. It’s a series where our science is looked at through the eyes of people from a parallel universe and then explained by actual scientists. It’s interesting to consider what things look like to those without access to an explanation, and how anything a prompt for a story if you look at it the right way.

  • Janet on

    I find books with glorious illustrations in them really inspiring. My latest read is Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, a wonderful children’s picture book about embracing our differences. The illustrations by Vashti Harrison are astonishingly beautiful.

  • K. Caine on

    I’m currently rolling around in books about the Franklin Expedition. Frozen in Ice is in progress right now, which covers the archaeological findings up in Nunavut. After that, I’ve got a couple more expedition books to read before I go forward into the Victorian era.

  • Irena on

    One of the GREATEST writing books I read was about acting: The Golden Rules of Acting by Andy Nyman

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