Sunday, March 31, 2019

Three Books I Keep In Stock

I like to keep several copies of these two books in my office:

Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matter






Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed




One or the other is perfect for almost every person who visits me.

But now I have another.
And you should have it too:


Dreyer's English by Benjamin Dreyer



If you sling words for fun or profit, you need this book.

Sample: Only godless savages eschew the series comma.


Do you have "in-stock" books you keep to give to people? A go-to gift book?

18 comments:

Lora said...

Over the years I've given away countless copies of Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams. It is such a gorgeous little book, and perfect for artists, writers, or any kind of thinking sort. I used to carry one with me all the time just in case I met someone who might like it.

By the way, "Hi! I'm new here!" Not new to reading the blog, but have finally transitioned from lurking to commenting.

CED said...

Dreyer's English has been on my list ever since I read a wonderful excerpt at LitHub and realized I shared many of Mr. Dreyer's preferences about language. There's a nice profile of him in the New York Times as well.

I don't typically keep extra copies of books to give out, but I love the idea. If I were to do so, I think I'd choose Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Lora... Welcome!

Books are about the only thing I give as gifts. When attending a personal friend's book signing, I always purchase as many copies of their new release as I can afford and then give the extra copies away as gifts.

There used to be a super-cool used book store in Sarasota, FL. I walked in one day and saw an entire stack of Letters From Side Lake by Peter Leschak. I had recently read it and loved it - and I bought the entire stack to give as gifts. (They were a dollar each).

And is it cheesy that I frequently give away copies of my own titles as gifts?

BrendaLynn said...

I devoured Dreyer’s book. So easy to read.

Will MacPhail said...

Thank you for the last one. I just read an excerpt and it was eye opening. I didn't realize I was using "really" so much for no good reason. It became so clear to me how pointless it is. I'm going to order this book right away.

The Noise In Space said...

I don't recommend the same book to everyone, but I do find myself talking to artists about Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon a lot. It's not a book that most people have read and I guess on the surface it doesn't exactly seem like a book for artists--it's the thinly veiled true story of a Russian Party member under Lenin who is then hunted down after Stalin takes over. But for me, the most interesting part of the book is the question of whether or not you are responsible for what other people do with your ideas, even if they twist them in a way you didn't intend. I think it's important for any type of creator to think about, especially in our current culture where comics, images, movies etc are often used in ways the artist never intended (see: "This Is Fine" dog). Weird, I know, but I've had a surprisingly high number of conversations about that topic.

I also recommend The Alchemist whenever possible, for reasons that are much more obvious.

Theresa said...

Welcome, Lora.

What a great idea to keep books in stock to give away. If I did that, I'd be like Melanie Sue Bowles and give away copies of my own, plus Dreyer's English. I think Benjamin Dreyer is wonderful.

John Davis Frain said...

Love the idea. The only books I have given away multiple copies of:
SHUTTER ISLAND by Dennis Lehane
LONG AND FARAWAY GONE by Lou Berney

But it's such a cool idea, I'm gonna come up with a couple ... until I can give away my own, that is. (I don't think that's cheesy at all, Melanie.)

Okay, April starts tomorrow. I'm gonna do 500 words a day, anybody wanna join me? It's not Nano, but we can pretend. (And it's not 1,667 words a day either.) No obligation except to swear to 500 words a day even if you don't like 'em, and shame me if I miss a day (which I won't).

Keep writing!

K White said...

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder & How to Write a
Damn Good Mystery by James N Frey are consistently tops on my recommendations list. I will check out Dreyer's English. Sounds exactly like my reading taste.

I'm fortunate to know many traditionally published authors. I buy and gift signed copies of their books. People receiving them are always impressed by the autograph. I hope they read the books too.

Pericula Ludus said...

Keeping books around to give away... now that sounds very sensible compared to my habit of diving into my collection when somebody mentions an interest I can relate back to a book, forcing my dog-eared copy with the questionable stains onto them, and then, some weeks or years later, buying a new copy for myself after searching the whole house for the one I knew I owned, but of course had no recollection of giving away.

Lennon Faris said...

"WHAT IF" by Randall Munroe (the author of comic xkcd) is pretty epic for any geeky friends. Although, prepare to have some very random, mathematical conversations afterward.

Melanie, I think your books as gifts is an awesome idea.

John (mss) Frain, I am in editing stages right now or I would join you...

And hi there, Lora!

Aphra Pell said...

I'll join you John - I'm technically editing, but I've made a number of big holes in this manuscript of the "insert scene about x" or "completely rewrite this" variety (which I thought would be dispiriting, but is actually great fun).

I don't have specific books I give away but I do think everyone should go and read The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader. It's a particularly beautiful slice of historical fiction and pulls off having most of the book set in a single isolated cell with great elan.

[Waves hello to Lora]

Craig F said...

Since way back in time, about three quarters of the way through the last century and millennium, someone gave me the book that pushed that button, I have tried to keep the magic going.

What book changes, both by my strange calendar and by the recipient. A long time ago I gave away six or eight copies of Terry Brook's first, some Ellery Queen and some Dashiell.

A shorter time ago it was Frederick Ramsay's IMPULSE,

Right now I don't have a particular book, or any recipients, waiting.

Looks like I have fallen behind again.

LibraryHungry said...

84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff. When one copy goes out, another must come in.

Jenn Griffin said...

The lack of a serial comma decided this court case about overtime pay in Maine:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/oxford-comma-court-case-ruling-overtime

Dreyers' English sounds like it belongs on my bookshelf. (And Dreyers' ice cream in my freezer. Just sayin')

Claire Bobrow said...

Late to the party, but I love these book selections. Two of my pals are in Dancers Among Us, and I recommend Dear Sugar to all and sundry. It’s SO good! I’m not familiar with the third book, but will seek it out for sure!

Miles O'Neal said...

For writers, I have long kept copies of Nat Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" to give out, and recommended it to quite a few people as well.
Mr. Dreyers' book was added to my writers' book list a few weeks ago. I cannot recommend it enough. (The writing is brilliant, as well as incredibly useful.) For those wondering, Benjamin Dryer is copy editor in chief for Random House.

For scifi lovers, it's James Schmitz's "The Witches of karres", which is space opera at its finest. I kept loaning copies out and never getting them back, so I bought two copies so I had one to give away, replacing that as soon as it was gone. My personal copy does not go anywhere without me. I had to do the same thing with WDtB, and, having learned my lesson, ordered two copies of DE to start with. Since one is going to my copy editor, I need to order another. Thanks for reminding me.

Miles O'Neal said...

I bought two copies of "Dreyer's English" after hearing Terry Gross (of NPR's "Fresh Air" program) interview the author. One story from the interview did not (as I recall) show up in the book. (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.)

Mr. Dreyer had met one or two of the chief word wranglers for Merriam-Webster, and during the course of conversation asked how they decided which new words or usages made it into the dictionary, noting how much he depended on them for guidance with such things.

A big part of how they pick such words depends, of course, on printed media- including best-selling Random House books. The word wranglers knew who he was and paid particular attention to things he had a hand in editing. Both parties were surprised to discover this bidirectional dependency.

If you get a chance, search out that Fresh Air interview with Benjamin Dreyer.