The Intentional Reading Challenge

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The Writersaurus Intentional Reading Challenge. Learn, retain, and benefit more from the books you read by reading with intention in 2018! Includes the "BIG LIST" of essential writing books! #writingtips #amwriting #2018goals #writinggoals

Since we’re coming up on the end of 2017, I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2018. For me, 2017 was the year of buckling down and taking charge of my writing career. I’ve published ten books in the last six months, and written with more focus than ever before in my life.

I want 2018 to be the year I take my writing and publishing game to the next level. But how to systematically do that?

Enter this post in the 20Booksto50k Facebook group. The poster had created a comprehensive list of widely recommended writing books (I’ve included a modified version at the bottom of this post). Her goal, she said, was to read 100 writing books in a year.

Now, I don’t think I could manage to read 100 writing books in a year. That time would be better spent writing, anyway. But the list intrigued me. Many of these books were about topics I could improve upon, or perhaps use a refresher on. Maybe I can do something with this list, I thought.

First, I would need some ground rules. I didn’t want to just read the books—I don’t know about you, but I can “read” something and retain very little of the information inside. If I was going to do this, I wanted it to be intentional reading, and I wanted to actually put the information to use. Otherwise what’s the point? That, I decided, was my goal—to read books more intentionally.

Starting in 2018, I will read 1 to 2 writing books a month with intention.

But what does intentional reading mean? I came up with these guidelines for myself:

  1. I will keep a pen and paper next to me while I read so I can note down key concepts, important quotes, and relevant page numbers.
  2. If the book includes exercises I will complete them. (Ugh, this one is going to be hard…but worth it!)
  3. To keep myself accountable, I will write a blog post for each book. To streamline this process, I have created a list of questions that I will answer. (Questions at the end of the post)
  4. I will incorporate at least one thing from the book into my writing life.
  5. I will invite others to join me in this challenge.

That brings me to you. If you’d like to participate in the Intentional Reading Challenge (as I’m calling it), please do! You can use the list below, or you can create your own that’s tailored to your personal needs. I have created a printable PDF of the questions, and it’s located in the files section of The Writersaurus Facebook Group. If you would like to participate, simply join the group and download the PDF. You’re welcome to post your answered questions directly to The Writersaurus Facebook Group, OR to your own blog, page, or group—just be sure to share your answers to the group and/or in the comments below so I can comment! I’d also appreciate a link back to this post, so that others may find it.



I will write answering the below questions for each book from the list that I read. A printable PDF of these questions is available in the files section of The Writersaurus Facebook Group.

Star Rating:

What type of writing book is it (craft, marketing, publishing, etc.)?

Why is it on the list?

Is the information included timeless? Is it outdated?

Summary of book:

What did the book do right?

What didn’t I like about the book?

Overall review (is it worth reading?)

Did I learn anything new by reading this book?

Important Notes:

How will I incorporate what I learned in this book in my writing life?


The Big List of Writing Books

Books about Writing

*This list is a modified version of what was posted in the 20Booksto50k group. I have added some titles and removed others. I’ve noted the ones that were available in Kindle Unlimited at the time of this writing. I will post links to my review of each book as I read them.

Story (McKee)
Story Genius (Cron)*
Write Like a Boss (KU) (Honoree Corder)
The Emotional Craft of Fiction (Maas)*
Creating Character Arcs (K.M. Weiland)
Outlining Your Novel (Weiland)
Structuring Your Novel (Weiland)
5,000 Words Per Hour (Fox)*
On Writing (King)*
Dynamic Story Creation (KU) (Maxwell Alexander Drake)
Point of View (KU) (Drake)
Anatomy of a Story (Truby)
How to Write Pulp Fiction (James Scott Bell)
The Writer’s Guide to Fat Outlining (Kat Lind)
The Five Day Novel (KU) (Scott King)
Fiction Unboxed (Truant)
Five Secrets of Story Structure (Weiland)
Take Off Your Pants (Hawker)*
2k to 10k (Aaron)

Romancing the beat (Gwen Hayes)
Save the Cat (Snyder)

Author/Business Mindset
The Successful Author Mindset (Penn)
The Miracle Morning for Writers (KU) (Corder)
The Power of Habit (Duhigg)*
The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (KU) (Covey)
Prosperity for Writers (KU) (Corder)*
The War of Art (Pressfield)*
Do the Work (Pressfield)
Turning Pro (Pressfield)*
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Dweck)

Eat that Frog (Brian Tracy)

Talent is Overrated (Colvin)

Grit (Duckworth)

Books about Self-publishing
The Six Figure Author (Fox)*
Write to Market (KU) (Fox)*
Relaunch Your Novel (Fox)*
Write. Publish. Repeat. (Platt? Truant? One of them…)
The Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook (Sedwick)
Stages of a Fiction Writer (Smith)
Writing Into the Dark (Smith)
Business for Authors (Penn)


Books about Marketing
How to Market a Book (Penn)
Marketers Tell Stories (Godin)
Your First 1,000 Copies (KU) (Grahl)*
Sell More Books with Less Social Media (Chris Syme)
Smart Social Media for Authors (KU) (Syme)
Sell More Books with Less Marketing (KU) (Syme)
Let’s Get Visible (Gaughran)
Reader Magnets (KU) (Stephenson)*
Help My Facebook Ads Suck (Michael Cooper)*
The Psychology of Selling (Tracy)
How to Write A Sizzling Synopsis (Bryan Cohen)

Mailing Lists Unboxed (Patty Jansen)


Will you be participating in the challenge? Are there any books you think need to be added to the Big List of Essential Writing Books? Are there any books on the list that you think shouldn’t be? Let me know in the comments!




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H. Duke
H. Duke writes fantasy, horror, and more. Her works include the weird west / urban fantasy serial mashup, Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer and the Christmas horror collection, Things on the Shelf: Three Tales of Christmas Terror, as well as the forthcoming Pagewalker series. She wrote the first season of Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer while living in Arizona with her husband, Giru, and a shiny black dog named Jupiter. To see what she's up to now, visit her website.

1 comment for “The Intentional Reading Challenge

  1. Kale Walker
    January 8, 2018 at 6:14 PM

    I learned that you should do the exercises if they are in the book. According to the post, it may be hard but worth it. Read with a purpose or understanding.

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