Stories

Love Storytelling? I’ve Got Three Books for You

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” ― Joan Didion, writer, journalist and storytelling master

I have an obsession with stories — the ones people tell about themselves, the ones people tell about others, and because this is my blog and I’m allowed to be honest here, the stories I tell about myself.

Storytelling has a huge impact on our lives. Politics? The stories we tell about others. Therapy sessions? Understanding the stories we tell ourselves. Relationships? Character-driven stories we’re trying to understand.

Rarely do the facts of a situation matter. Instead, it’s all in our interpretation. And that’s the magic of storytelling. It’s the best stories, regardless of truth, that stay with us and shape our thoughts and behavior. Even Science says so. And who can argue with Science?

For those similarly obsessed with storytelling, I have three books that will help you tell better stories and challenge you to see the world in a whole new way:


Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate

Screenwriter Brian McDonald takes you through the steps to creating a better story. There’s are a lot of golden nuggets in the book. For instance, this one:

“One of the things that hangs us all up when writing is that we feel we need to make it more complicated. We feel that this will make it better, but it never does. It just makes it muddy.”

True in writing. True in life.

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence

Its title is long, but this book itself is a quick read. When we start learning how to write we focus on the what’s visible: punctuation, grammar, word choice. But, like Brian McDonald also explains in the book above, for words to really matter, we have to start with what’s invisible to the naked eye. And Lisa Cron has the science to back it up.

for words to really matter, we have to start with what’s invisible to the naked eye.

The Distance Between Us

I’m a total sucker for a good memoir. I think it’s very brave for an author to let us into her world. Also, there’s the whole idea of writing your own narrative. Reyna Grande does both as she shares a story of family, migration, and the American Dream. The writing is beautiful and unflinchingly honest. This is a masterpiece that demonstrates how great storytelling is done.

ps. I just ordered another memoir called A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite thanks to a recommendation from artist Cheryl Sorg