Sit Experiment 1: Read with Intention

As part of suggesting that you read broadly and mindfully, Sit Write Share mentions sampling collections of shorter pieces by different people for intentional exposure to a range of styles. Here are a few options.

  • Anna Quindlen. How Reading Changed My Life.  Ballantine Books, 2010.This book is part memoir, part discussion of books the author read in childhood, young adulthood, and later. At the end, there are eleven reading lists each with ten titles.  One is called 10 Titles that will Make a Teenager Feel More Human, and another is The 10 Books I Would Save in a Fire.
  • Richard Dawkins, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing.  Oxford University Press, 2008.If you are interested in writing about science, you could use this book to sample the writing styles of many prominent scientists.  Richard Dawkins, himself a noted scientist and writer, selected the pieces and introduces each with a brief description and the reason he chose it for the anthology.  Thus, you can see Richard Dawkins in the midst of mindful reading.

    When I workshopped this collection of resources, one of the reviewers worried that I was starting with a very heavy resource. Skip it if you will, but I have found it a delightful way to read small sections by many scientists.

  • Harold Bloom, The Western Canon.  Appendices A-D.  Harcourt Brace and Company, 1994.A canon is a collection of high culture literature (or music or art) that are highly valued and considered classics. While you may not agree with Harold Bloom’s criteria for what he includes in the western canon, the lists in his four appendices cover a wide swath of literature from the Gilgamesh epic written before Homer to Chinhua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.  Use the lists in the appendices for ideas of literature to read, or read the book itself, which shows Bloom’s mindful reading in action.
  • Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry.This book explores poetry, looking at many selections with a clear eye.  It is beautiful writing in itself.
  • George Saunders, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life. Random House, 2021George Saunders, a novelist and storyteller himself, examines how Tolstoy, Chekhov, Turgenev, and Gogol make meaning and elicit emotion in particular stories.
  • Russell Baker, Growing Up. Signet, 1982.
    This is the book recommended to the writer to sharpen her ability to describe people to make them come alive to the reader.