5 Must-Have Reference Books for Writers and Bloggers

I hoard books.

There. I said it. My name is Maggie, and I’m a book hoarder.

We often joke that we moved into our bigger house a couple years ago because we ran out of space for our books in our old, smaller house. It’s a half-joke.

I love books, no question. Yes, you can get a ton of great information on the internet, but there’s something about thumbing through real paper. This is especially true when it comes to reference material.

Sure. I can google a specific grammar or style question, but it’s just not the same as picking up my well-worn style manual and finding the in-depth reference.

5 Must-Have Reference Books for Writers and Bloggers

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If you feel similarly or are simply into book lists (another thing I hoard!), I compiled my 5 must-have reference books for writers and bloggers:

  1. Top honors: Every writer and blogger needs this slim volume tucked into your desk drawer.
  2. The classic: Worth a read once a year, this accessible guide provides valuable advice to improve your work.
  3. The grammar guide: Equal parts entertaining and informative, this is a must-read for every writer. I regret lending my copy to a coworker several years ago and never getting it back…
  4. The style guide: Every client and publication is different, so it’s likely you need both. If you rely on Google for answers, beware. There’s as much misinformation on blogs as there is truth. The physical book, though? Never wrong. (You can pre-order the 2018 AP Stylebook on Amazon now!)
  5. The inspiration: I adore books about writing by writers. I’ve read so many beautiful ones, but the one I just finished has stuck with me. (I also recently enjoyed Stephen King’s.)

I also have a hard copy of this dictionary on my desk. Of all the reference books, I admit this is the most impractical because it’s so much faster and easier to Google specific words. However, is there anything lovelier than opening the dictionary to any page and poring over the tiny type at random? I think not.

I’d love to know what’s on your must-have list! Please share, and happy reading!

Book review: My Beloved World

“There are no bystanders in this life…. Our humanity makes us each a part of something greater than ourselves.” — Sonia Sotomayor

I recently finished My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and the third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. I can’t overstate this: Read it. Next. Finish what you’re reading now, then pick this up.

My Beloved World book review

Prior to digging in, I worried that it would be dry, that it would be a picture of her swift rise to the top with nods to adversity here and there. Why? Many books written by people in political power – and, yes, she’s in judicial power, but they’re so similar in DC – fall into that trap. This was nothing like that. At all.

She is open, candid, and humorous. She examines her life experiences with a critical eye, and though I’m sure she held a lot back, it doesn’t feel like she did. The narrative is captivating and surprisingly casual.

The book starts with young Sonia exercising her independence and learning how to administer her own diabetes medication. The text continues chronologically with interspersed passages of self-reflection. She talks about growing up in a household with an alcoholic father and a long-suffering, overworked mother. When her father passes, the story pivots and follows her development, step by step, into the woman she is today.

Well, not today. Ms. Sotomayor chose to end the narration with her first judgeship rather than taking us up until her appointment to the Supreme Court. Hopefully someday she writes that story.

Wherever you fall on the political spectrum doesn’t matter. This isn’t a book about sides. It’s a book about perseverance, hard work, and the importance of a supportive network of friends and family. It’s an inspiring story – half my book is dog-earned – and the kind of honest, authentic tale you imagine hearing a girlfriend tell about herself over a cup of coffee.

It came out in 2013, and my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner! Definitely give this one a read!

My Beloved World* is available in multiple formats on Amazon.

*That link is my Amazon Affiliates link. If you choose to purchase the book by using that link, it won’t cost you a penny more, but I will earn a teeny tiny commission. OhMyDogBlog.com / MaggieMarton.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Book review: Cathedral of the Wild

Cathedral of the Wild book review

Before I dive into this book review, I’ll just pause for a sec so you can go buy it. Right now. It’s that fabulous.

Did you buy it? OK, good. Let’s talk about the book, shall we?

Cathedral of the Wild reads like a series of essays strung together. Every chapter could stand on its own. It’s in loose chronological order, walking us through Varty’s unconventional childhood on a game reserve, Londolozi, in South Africa. He writes in a tongue-in-cheek style that retells death-defying adventures with a sense of humor. 

The first two-thirds of the book go into great detail about the formation of the game reserve and all the of animals who call that space home. The chapter on elephants is utterly astounding. But when you hit that last third, you hit on the real message of the book: His family and upbringing has started to seem idyllic – they’re living in Eden and jaunting around the world when they feel the travel itch – but they’re slammed on all sides all at once. Deaths, professional setbacks, personal attacks, it all happens within a short period of time, leaving Varty feeling lost and unmoored in place and time.

The last third tracks his journey from being lost to coming home. The first 75% of the book is a lot of “showing” and the last 25% is mostly “telling.” It moves at a slower pace because of that technique change.

But, his message resounds. The book made me laugh and cry – almost in equal measure – and left me feeling inspired to get back out into nature. I highly recommend Cathedral of the Wild.

Book review: Authorpreneur in Pajamas

Many writers are choosing to self-publish their work. It’s swifter than going the traditional route, and it allows authors the ability to manage their platform and promotion.

Authorprenuer in Pajamas by Geraldine Solon

In her eBook, Authorpreneur in Pajamas, Geraldine Solon walks the aspiring writer through the many components of promoting self-published work. The short book – it’s only 80 pages, including the acknowledgments – touches on the various social media channels available and a smattering of promotion ideas, like hosting a virtual book tour or offering a giveaway.

The book provides a mile-high view of each step, though many of the chapters include links to references to get more information. I think this book could help someone who is brand new to the publishing industry get an idea of what’s involved and, hopefully, provide a starting line. Most readers could utilize the elements outlined in the book as a prompt to research more in-depth the tactics that spoke to him or her.

I have one gripe. If you’ve read my other reviews of self-published work, this is a persistent problem: It isn’t well edited. There are subject-verb agreement and preposition errors – along with a few other nit-picky things – throughout the book, which I always find to be incredibly distracting. (I know, I know. I’m a grammar nerd. I read grammar books for fun, and edit absolutely everything I read. Many readers can overlook those errors. I just can’t.)

For only $0.99 on Amazon, Authorpreneur in Pajamas could be a great value for someone who has no idea where to start in self-published book promotion.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

My Current Reading List

I am a bookworm. Reading is my great escape, and it provides quiet, calm solace in the busy rush of life. Because things have been nutso lately – from sick dogs to deadlines – I’ve fallen behind on my reading.

So, I wanted to recap my current and upcoming reading list so you can follow along.

The Amazon links below are affiliate links. If you purchase a book through those links, it won’t cost you a penny extra, though I’ll get a tiny commission.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain

I’m nearly finished with this book; in fact, I plan to finish it this afternoon. I’m loving it. It’s chock full of research about introversion and how introverts can harness their natural strengths. A must read!

Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home
by Boyd Varty

I’ve had this on my Kindle for weeks now, as a NetGalley review. It’s up next, and I’m excited to dig in!

Dog Gone, Back Soon
by Nick Trout

I’ve never read anything by Nick Trout, which is sort of odd considering how immersed I am in the pet world. Regardless, I’m looking forward to this one. (And my review will be on OMD! with a possible giveaway, too!)

Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog (Karen Pryor Clicker Book)
by Emma Parsons

I purchased this book ages ago when I was going through an info-gathering phase as Lucas’ leash reactivity worsened. We’ve made huge progress in classes and with other texts, so I’m not sure how this fell off my list. Now that we’re going through reactivity training with Cooper, I picked it back up and have already learned a ton.

That’s it for my “next up” list. My “someday” list is a mile longer! Once I get through these, I’ll share my next round.

What are you reading these days? Tweet @maggiemarton with book recommendations and I’ll respond with some of my own! 

Book review: A Creative Toolkit of Meditations

Believe it or not (ha! I’m sure you believe it by now), I struggle with stress.

I put a ton of pressure on myself, constantly over-schedule my days and weeks, and panic when I can’t complete all my “to dos” or meet all my goals. However, as I’ve gotten older and – not necessarily wiser – but maybe more mindful, I’ve been trying to integrate ways to manage and eliminate that excess stress.

In theory, I’ve been interested in meditation for quite a long time. In practice, I just haven’t found a way to actually practice it. Everything I’ve read – from books to websites – and the online courses I’ve joined, it all just seemed so elusive.

A Creative Toolkit of Meditations

But, in his book A Creative Toolkit of Meditations, William Blake makes the practice seem so much more attainable or accessible. In fact, the whole idea of a “toolkit” appealed to me more because he allows you to pick and choose what parts of a meditation practice will work for you.

The book is divided into main sections, which are then broken into chapters. At the end of each chapter is a meditation (or, a few in some cases). By the end of the book, you’ve been given a handful of meditations to try. That process worked for me because I could decided to continue practicing the ones that worked for me and let go of the ones that didn’t. (Right now I’m working on the loving-kindness meditation.)

Overall, the book was easy to read and understand without a lot of esoteric, vague language that you find in a lot of similar-genre books. If you’re interested in mindfulness or meditation, I highly recommend A Creative Toolkit of Meditations. I plan to keep this one on my shelf to reference and reread periodically!

Are you on Goodreads?

My idea of heaven: a comfy couch with a big pile of soft blankets, a mug of rich hot chocolate, a crackling fire, and a big pile of books to read! I love to read. It’s partly why I launched the dedicated book reviews section of this website.

In the past, I’ve dabbled on Goodreads, but now I’m trying to keep up with it… writing and reading reviews, joining groups, and sharing on forums.

Are you on Goodreads? Let’s connect!