Category Archives: Booksleying

Three Creative Writing How–to Books that Actually Help

What goes into a story, beyond the platitudes of “there must be a beginning, middle, and end,” or “there must be a protagonist with a goal and obstacles to overcome”? How do I revise without going in circles? And, most importantly, how do I improve as a writer? 

If you want to know the answers to these questions, read a how-to book. Most how-to books are trash, but a few are very helpful. They won’t make you a genius, but they will help you develop a level of basic competency in your work. In other words, they’ll ensure that you don’t spend all your time flailing around in confusion and frustration, relying more on luck than anything else.

This post introduces you to my favorite three “craft texts” (in no particular order), plus a bunch of honorable mentions (some of which I’ve read and some of which I haven’t). This is not a complete list. Nor do I pretend to be an expert. Anyone who knows me knows it’s a bit rich that I’m giving out writing advice. But, at the risk of coming off as a braggart, I thought I’d share my ~tiny grains of knowledge~.

BOOKSLEYING: Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

Welcome to Booksleying! If you need a refresher on what this is or how the rating system works, check out our introductory post. You can find all the Booksleying posts here. (We’ve been shit at posting, we KNOW).

Title and Author: Three Daughters of Eve (Havaanin Üç Kizi) by Elif Shafak

NOTE: I accidentally read the English version of the book without knowing that it also had a Turkish translation. Shafak has some of her works originally written in English, and some in Turkish, and I wasn’t able to figure out which category this book lives in. But good for you! You get an English review of this book.

Rating: 4 stars with a side of Dessert Parfait. 

BOOKSLEYING: The Sun is Also a Star

a note: apologies for being such SHIT about posting the past few weeks. we’ve been, well, suffering.

Title and Author: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Rating: 4 Michael Roths, with a side of Sweet Potato Fries

A Quote: “There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.”

BOOKSLEYING: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Welcome to Booksleying! If you need a refresher on what this is or how the rating system works, check out our introductory post. You can find all the Booksleying posts here.

Title and Author: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Rating: 5 Michael Roths, with a side of Dessert Parfait.

Tl;dr (except you wr): In a small town in 1970s Ohio, Lydia, the daughter of a mixed Chinese-American family is found dead in a nearby lake. Lydia is the apple of her parents’ eyes, the favorite of the three Lee kids, and their apparent perfect family tree falls apart as the investigation begins. Everything I Never Told You dissects a multitude of trauma: immigrant, mixed, Asian, and uncertainty. The novel follows both the investigation of Lydia’s death by delving into the backstories of both her parents, revealing a complicated story of love, betrayal, and ultimately, understanding.

BOOKSLEYING: COME READ WITH US

Welcome to 2019, where we all decide to embark on a new resolution to eat healthier, maybe make it to Freeman, or actually go to class for once.

Saadia (sdzand I have been exchanging book recommendations for some time now, and after a caps-lock induced discussion, the Book-slying was born/birthed/created. I’ve decided to invest in some self-care by reading a book at least every two weeks, and instead of incessantly posting about the books I read on Instagram, I (we) will take the time to review what we’ve been procrastinating our work with.

But let’s be honest, I will continue to incessantly post about the books I’m reading. It’s just the way I am.

The goal for this series is to come with a book review every week, alternating between the two of us, making each of us responsible for a book every two weeks. Melisa reads a lot, Saadia does not. This is an attempt to bridge that gap.

Read below the jump for an explanation of the rating system!