Writer's Notes

Writer’s Notes: What’s on Your Bookshelf?

By Thonie Hevron

It’s a little late for April Fools’ posts so I thought I’d take a look around my office and develop something that’s been percolating in my brain for months now. It’s called, “What’s on your bookshelf?” The literal one, not your Kindle.

The last fifteen years have held four moves for the mister and I, so paring down the load has been essential. So what’s left? What’s really important.

Upper right: note the pic of my dear horse, Casey with his buddy Bridget-a gift for me many years ago.

Starting at the upper left: My favorite book of all times is Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. This is the second paperback I’ve had—I wore the first one out. I keep books from my favorite contemporary authors—all of PJ Parrish’s mysteries, some of Paul Bishop’s police procedurals, and Mary Stewart. To the right is a family favorite, Uncle Remus stories (from hubby’s childhood), travel books for upcoming trips and miscellaneous literature. Below that (middle right) is big books: high school yearbooks (great for finding interesting and ethnic names), a mythology book my son gave me (I use it for ideas when I get stuck—real inspiration), a few books on riding, several technical books on police procedure, and weather (what kind of clouds precede a storm?). I base all of my stories on actual locations, so I keep map books, but I also use Google Earth.

Bottom right starts off at the right with my Wine Bible. Yes, I’m a wine lover although not serious enough to be considered a connoisseur, hence the reference tome. The rest of this shelf is stocked with books of authors I know. Most are personalized, making them more special. I have more on my bedroom nightstand. Sigh.

The bottom left is my reference shelf. All of these contain information I couldn’t have done without at some point during my writing. I use personality books-Character Traits, The Eneagram, Personality Plus as much for creating a layered character as for naming said characteristics. Sometimes I know what I want to convey but cannot find the right word. These books help. The rest of the shelf is filled with court references, police procedure, weapons, physical trauma, as well as writerly books on scene construction, dialog and plotting. Three books of note that I rely heavily on:

  • Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson-a small book I found by accident and love so much that I give to newbie writers.
  • The Art of Character by David Corbett-Corbett’s creds are amazing. Take a look at his fiction offerings.
  • Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld-Rosenfeld deconstructs scenes and puts them back together in a readable, engaging manner.

Left middle shelf is stocked with more reference materials. My first publisher used the Chicago Manual of Style—so I do, too. It sits next to my thesauruses (I looked that one up. Turns out thesauri is okay, too)—The Synonym Finder and Flip Dictionary. Then, the Random House Dictionary, of course. I also have more technical books: a pair of books on the psychology of killing, a few good grammar books (and one terrific one, The Best Little Grammar Book Ever by Arlene Miller, who happens to be a friend and colleague. It’s a readable grammar book filled with common mistakes presented in a humorous way.

Just so you know, I have other bookshelves in my home. But this is my go-to while I’m working. I’d be hard-pressed to pare down from these.

Care to reveal some of your own special books? I’d love to see what’s on your bookshelf! We can all learn by sharing.