Here, at the Success, Health & Lifestyle Blog, we elevate writing to one of the most important skills for success. Writing is impression, persuasion, and profession. It is also how we do some of our best thinking. If you can write, you can find a way to succeed.
And writing is a skill that you can develop— perhaps by reading one of these books. Our favorite how-to-write book, of course, is still On Writing Well, by William Zinsser . You can read our review of On Writing Well here .
In this book, Roy Peter Clark offers a guided and expert tour through 25 great works of literature. He takes us behind the curtains and shows us their secrets.
These great writers, of course, are not magicians that want to hide the methods of their writing magic, for fear that knowledge will ruin the show. Instead, by understanding the depth of their thinking and strategy in their written works, you will appreciate their greatness even more. To pick up some of their writing techniques requires a close reading that Roy Peter Clark is more than qualified to teach .
You might worry that if you haven’t read the 25 great works of literature selected by Clark, The Art of X-Ray Reading may be worthless to you, or at least not worth as much. But you need not worry; the author provides sufficient quotation and context for you to understand the techniques he explains.
This is an opportunity for you to learn how to analyze an excerpt or short piece of text for hidden depths of meaning.
The great works and authors include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (which you probably read in high school), James Joyce, Earnest Hemingway , Sylvia Plath, Flannery O’Connor, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Chaucer, Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, Rachel Carson and many more.
So what is the benefit of this deep reading?
By understanding how these wonderful writers communicate, you can appreciate that the potential for communicating depth of ideas and emotions is much greater than you probably expected. You can borrow some of their ideas or create your own.
From a writing perspective, there is also the benefit of deconstructing the best, so you can construct your best. Tim Ferriss does this with people from many fields in his podcast and new book, Tools of Titans. You can do it with your writing by reading Roy Peter Clark’s The Art of X-Ray Reading .
While Clark likely wrote the book focused on helping writers improve their craft— as he has done many times before—the “reading” lessons are just as valuable. Many of our readers are likely voracious readers . By taking a detailed tour behind the scenes of some of the best writers in our history with an expert guide like Clark, you will likely deepen and improve your own reading. So you can improve your ROI on your reading time by achieving greater insights into what you are reading.