The Yankee Road

Some of the books I’m reading, or have read lately, I can recommend, and highly, to writers and those aspiring to be published authors:

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson (Penguin Press, February 7, 2017). Fame sells books: Famous books sell, famous people’s books sell, and books about famous people and things sell. Without one of these three types of fame, making books sales can be a challenge. “Discovery” is the term of art publishing aficionados use to label the process of moving from obscurity to fame. But, how does an author get “discovered?”

In this fascinating book Derek Thompson explains, and tells stories of how it used to work when gatekeepers, like the major publishing houses, had the power to decide who became famous. He also explores in depth how discovery has changed now that “there are simply too many gates to keep.” This is a must-read for any author with the ambition to be discovered and sell more books.

The Yankee Road: Tracing the Journey of the New England Tribe that Created Modern America by James D. McNiven (Wheatmark, April 15, 2015). This book is written as all history should be, in stories as compelling as good fiction. The Yankee Road tells twenty-two such stories, seamlessly woven together as part of one larger historical story, the migration of the American tribe, the Yankees, as they moved westward. The book begins with the arrival of the Puritans in Boston and takes us through the migration of their descendants (actual and cultural), west to Chautauqua, New York, exploring the different ways the Yankees have influenced and embedded themselves into American society and life along the way. I know that the “Yankee Road” as McNiven defines it, ends in Newport, Oregon, so there is much ahead to enjoy in his sequels. I am looking forward to the release of the next one. If you want an example of how compelling nonfiction is written, read this book.

Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy (Graywolf Press, October 18, 2016). I saw Benjamin Percy present at the Tucson Festival of Books in March, and was so impressed with the depth of his study of the writing craft, that I knew I had to read this book. A bestselling novelist himself (The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding), Percy is one of the most popular writing instructors and coaches in America. I’ve just started the book, but already it is delivering.

Happy reading!