Recommended Reading:
Top Picks

My students regularly ask me what I recommend they read to improve their writing. Here’s my short list. Some are books about writing (that would be useful no matter what kind of writing you do) and some are more travel-specific. One is not, I must confess, actually a book.

  • “Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing,” by Patricia T. O’Conner – Practical, painless, and pithy advice about how to write well, recounted with great humor. A fun, thoughtful, and useful read:
  • “Too Lazy to Work, Too Nervous to Steal: How to Have a Great Life as a Freelance Writer,” by John Clausen – Love the title. And the text is good, too. Lots of good stories and practical advice about different ways you can parlay one kind of freelance writing into other kinds:
  • “On Writing Well,” by William Zinsser – This is a classic. If you read nothing else about how to write travel articles, read the 16 pages Zinsser devotes to the subject:
  • “The Best American Travel Writing 2002,” Frances Mayes, editor; Jason Wilson, series editor – I asked for the 2003 edition of this annual collection for Christmas, but it didn’t turn up under my tree. This series provides a reliable, enjoyable read every year:
  • “National Geographic Traveler,” published eight times a year. OK, this isn’t a book. But if you were to subscribe to only one “mainstream” travel publication, make it this one. The writing is consistently clean and engaging.
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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: March 15, 2004

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