Do You Have a Writer’s Heart?

heartbrken writers

“A writer’s heart, a poet’s heart, an artist’s heart, a musician’s heart is always breaking. It is through that broken window that we see the world…”― Alice Walker

Author, Alice Walker changed the way I see my animals in life, especially my cats in her groundbreaking book, The Temple of My Familiar. That was back in 1989 when we were all enamored with polyester and pleather and she was weaving magic with words and pulling us into subjects that would change how we see the world. The Temple of My Familiar was an ambitious and multi-narrative novel containing the over-leaved stories of Arveyda, a musician in search of his past; Carlotta, his Latin American wife who lived in exile from hers; Suwelo, a black professor of American History who realizes that his generation of men had failed women; Fanny, his ex-wife about to meet her father for the first time; and Lissie, a vibrant creature with a thousand pasts. And, her quote lingers with me still.

norman rush

Mark Nepo, author of The Exquisite Risk writes about the same thing. About how the heart is the most critical part of writing. “Very quickly, when the heart is broken open, we are exhausted of our differences. We don’t try so hard to keep up needless boundaries and are forced to realize we are all the same, and this allows us to touch and be touched more directly. Things we thought that mattered don’t. I know once my heart is opened, I can find the courage to lean into the place where I am broken, to lean into that opening, letting life rush in and touch me there, even though that place is incredibly tender. I’ve discovered over time that the rush of life into the tender place where we are broken is the beginning of resilience.” It is also the beginning of an exceptional writer.

And it is just this relentless courage to write from our broken places that makes a writer stand out from the crowded writer’s circle. Those books, articles, poems and memoirs that stop you in your tracks and make you want to read one sentence, one page over and over again are not always about the writers talent to craft words. It is usually that they have taken a candle and allowed themselves to go deep into their own stories, feel their wounds, compile their learning and relive the pain. The very definition of courage for an artist.  They illuminate all of their own truth right there on the page for everyone to read. To write from these places assures the writer that they are listening to the most powerful muse: Themselves. This level of honesty and raw writing is a challenge for many writers. But without it, we skim over life on the page, we water down truth to something that mirrors our culture at a superficial level and do not allow for the mystery of our own lives and our broken hearts to lead the way for us as writers. When we can, each of us will feel the palpable difference in what words we craft, the depth of the stories we chose to tell and we find that once the plunge into the crack of our own hearts has occurred, we become the bravest writers possible.

sylvia plath

 

 

 

Costs of Self Publishing

self publishing
I am getting a lot of questions about self-publishing.  The blog http://www.thewritelife.com published a piece that covers the nuts and bolts of self publishing which I think is very comprehensive. Check it out.

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book? 4 Authors Share Their Numbers

You want to self-publish your book, but budgeting for the process is more challenging that it looks. The numbers you’re hearing from experts regarding the costs of self-publishing are all over the board.  Are authors really managing to release quality books without paying for professional editing, design, marketing and other services? Or are you going to have to dig into your savings and fork over thousands of dollars to make sure you release a great book? How much does it cost to publish a book?

To assuage these common concerns, we spoke with several top self-published authors about what they spent to release one of their books. They’ve shared real numbers, as well as why they chose to invest in certain services, to help you decide how best to allocate your investment during every stage of self-publishing.

Ready to learn what it really costs to self-publish?

The self-published authors we’ve interviewed

In addition to her freelance writing expertise and two traditionally-publishedmystery series, C. Hope Clark is the author of the self-published non-fiction book The Shy Writer Reborn.

Catherine Ryan Howard is author of two travel memoirs, Mousetrapped andBackpacked, and a guide to self-publishing, Self-Printed. She blogs about self-publishing and more at Catherine, Caffeinated.

Since she quit her corporate job and published her first book about the experience, Joanna Penn has been a self-publishing powerhouse. She’s built a career as an author-entrepreneur, sharing resources for other authors at The Creative Penn and self-publishing New York Times and USA Today best-selling thriller novels as author J.F. Penn.

And there’s me, Dana Sitar. I share resources, tips and tools for writers atWritersBucketList.com, and I have self-published two collections of essays, a variety of infoproducts and the Amazon Bestselling ebook A Writer’s Bucket List.

Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term. – Joanna Penn

How did we do it? Here’s the breakdown of costs for Hope’s nonfiction book The Shy Writer Reborn; Catherine’s second memoir Backpacked; Joanna’s first novel, Pentecost; and my ebook A Writer’s Bucket List. All dollar amounts are listed in USD.

How much does it cost to publish a book?

How much does editing cost?

Editing — which includes developmental editing, content editing, copyediting and proofreading — can make the difference between a good book and great one. For a quality, impactful book, you need more than a proofread or spell-check of a first draft.

Beta readers and/or experienced developmental and content editors will help ensure your book shares your message or story coherently, and a strong copyeditor will help you make every sentence pop off the page.

To keep costs low, think outside the box and reach into your network. Make the most of your money, effort and time by working with a genre-specific editor who understands your voice and brand. Not all editors are created equal!

Hope:

I used beta readers from my critique group and authors I knew. I had one author dislike the book, suggesting I write it in the format used by Writer’s Digest books (she published with Writer’s Digest Books), and [I] just rescinded my request because I did not want [that look].

Catherine:

It was nonfiction so I felt developmental editing wasn’t worth it (the events really happened, so I thought I was safe enough relaying real events while leaving out the boring bits!) and then I hired a copyeditor. She went through it line by line and then she did a proofread afterwards. I also asked a couple of friends to proofread it.

Approximate cost: $600

Joanna:

Even avid readers of fiction don’t know how to structure a book, so for the first book,  [it’s a good idea to use a] structural editor. I also rewrote later on with feedback from more editors after publication. For Pentecost, I used five different editors [multiple structural editors, a line-editor and a copyeditor], so that cost the most of all the books.

[On the sixth in the ARKANE series now the process is:] Get to a good second draft myself, then send to my editor for structural and line edits, two passes by the editor, rewrites, then send to the proofreader before publication.

Cost: $1500 per book for one editor and one proofreader

Dana:

I first shared the book with beta readers from the Writer’s Bucket List community for structural feedback.

For proofreading and copyediting, I hired new writers who would benefit from the editing experience and offered pay plus a mention at the blog and in the book.

Cost: $60

The costs of cover design

To develop an author brand, you want your cover to not only sell your book but to make readers immediately think of you. Book cover design is a unique craft – it takes more than InDesign skills and knowledge of fonts and colors to create a cover that achieves your goals.

As if that wasn’t enough, you also want your cover to stand out and be legible in crowded pages of tiny thumbnail images. It’s a tall order!

Look for quality designers who are just getting started in their careers and develop a relationship early on (the top recommended designers are usually booked quite far in advance!) The Book Designer’s Monthly Ebook Cover Design Awards are a great resource for cover design tips and finding designers who specialize in your genre.

Hope:

I hired a book cover designer (who happened to be my web designer) to design two covers: ebook and print.

Cost: $250

Catherine:

I used Andrew Brown of Design for Writers, who I had used before. I was one of Andrew’s first clients, so I always get a good deal from him. His prices now are, I think, around [$240] for ebook only and [$360] for the ebook “front” cover and a full CreateSpace paperback cover as well.

Joanna:

This is my other big expense [after editing]. I met Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer and paid him as a pro for book cover design for my first book, but he doesn’t do it anymore. I met Derek Murphy at CreativIndie when he was starting out and developed a relationship because of my platform [at TheCreativePenn.com].

Dana:

I DIYed! I had a big learning curve to overcome, and I went through three iterations of the PDF cover before landing on one I was comfortable with. Then I changed it again later when I published the Kindle edition (with great feedback from the Ebook Cover Design Awards).

I design all my covers in Photoshop, which I owned previously, so I don’t consider it a publishing cost.

Adding illustrations, photography and graphics

While it’s easy to disregard these additions to save money and time, custom images on your cover or throughout your book add a unique touch that gets readers talking. Forging a relationship with an artist is also a cool way to give your brand its own flair throughout your career.

We’ve recommended 99designs in the past for affordable, quality cover design, but Joanna points out that the site is also a great resource for custom illustrations!

Dana:

I hired a cartoonist friend to do illustrations for the book, and it’s one of the best decisions I made! The illustrations have always gotten great feedback from reviewers.

Cost: I paid her $50 down and share 10 percent of direct sales (about $1 per book).

Handling inner layout, formatting and ebook conversion

Second to cover design, a conventionally formatted book interior (print or ebook) is your key to avoiding a sloppy DIY look.

Many small details (that you might not think of) will red-flag your book as amateurish and sully the reader’s experience, so you want to do your research (or hire a pro who’s already done theirs) on the standards of book interior design.

To DIY typesetting for print, try one of the free templates from CreateSpace, or a paid option from Book Design Templates.

Hope:

I did the print layout myself after much research and study of formatting guides. I queried my Facebook fans when I reached one impasse, and they fixed me right up.

As for ebook [conversion], I turned that over to BookBaby. I bartered advertising for publication/preparation of my ebook.

Typical cost for ebook publishing package: $299

Catherine:

I did [inner layout] myself, using Microsoft Word and the templates you can download from CreateSpace. If you have a straightforward interior layout, I think this is a good place to save some money by doing the work yourself.

I did [conversion] myself for this book, but I’ve since started usingeBookPartnership.com.

Cost for standard ebook conversion: From $299

Joanna:

I format ebooks on Scrivener. I hate [print] formatting, so I pay for that.

Cost: $150 for print formatter for full-length book; $40-45 one-time for Scrivener software (available for both Mac and Windows)

Dana:

I did these myself. It was another learning curve, as this was the first book I’d published with illustrations and the first I published in fixed (PDF) format.

I designed the PDF version in OpenOffice Writer and converted directly to PDF. I also did the layout for the Kindle edition through OpenOffice, which creates an MS Word .doc. To sell the ebook at Amazon, I just uploaded that doc through KDP.

Cost: Free

What does printing a book cost?

Even in a digital age, readers will still ask for a print copy of your book. Print-on-demand services make it possible for you to offer this without the expense or headache of managing and storing a print run. If you do speaking gigs or host author events, you’ll also want the option to keep print copies in stock for back-of-room sales.

Across the board, we all use, have used, or plan to use Amazon’s CreateSpacefor print-on-demand books. Choosing this route saves you money because you only print books as readers buy them. You’ll pay manufacturing and shipping costs if you want to approve a proof before listing the book for sale, which is highly recommended.

If you do want to order a print run of your books — which isn’t recommended unless you have a proven distribution method — you’ll also pay manufacturing and shipping costs to receive them.

Publishing through CreateSpace is free, and they will keep between 20 and 60 percent of book sales, depending on the sales channel.

Joanna also recommends IngramSpark for non-Amazon print-on-demand sales.

Sales and distribution costs

Self-publishing an ebook comes with the benefit of not needing to seek bookstores to stock your book. Selling your ebook through online retailers is relatively simple.

Most popular ebook distributors (e.g. Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc.) charge no upfront costs to publish, but keep a percentage of book sales. Publishers Weekly put together a great breakdown of royalty rates, pros and cons for each platform.

Hope:

I used Kindle Direct Publishing to sell through Amazon. For other ebook outlets I used BookBaby. For print I used Amazon and Barnes & Noble. No costs.

Catherine:

KDP and Smashwords, so all free.

Joanna:

I upload directly to ebook stores [e.g. Amazon, iBooks, NOOK, Kobo] as well as using Smashwords for smaller markets. I was selling direct through selz.comuntil the EU VAT tax laws came in January 1, 2015.

Dana:

I used E-junkie for direct distribution of the PDF edition and payments via PayPal. I published the Kindle edition to sell on Amazon using KDP. Later, I made the PDF edition a freebie to email subscribers, so I used MailChimp to distribute it.

Cost: $5 per month for E-junkie

Launch and marketing costs

As a self-published author, your relationships are your greatest assets. In addition to tapping into your network for self-publishing services, you also rely on your community to buy and promote your books.

Building and nurturing these relationships shouldn’t come with direct costs, but this is where you need to budget a huge portion of your (non-writing) time as an author.

Hope:

I used Facebook, my newsletters with FundsforWriters.com, Twitter and a lot ofguest blog posting. I feature [the book] at conferences and speaking engagements.

Also, I keep swag for all my books. Usually rack cards or postcards, business cards and stickers. I have a sticker for each of my books so that people can immediately see what’s in the envelope when it comes in the mail.

I use Vistaprint for postcards and rackcards, and I use Moo.com for business cards and the stickers. Moo is more expensive, but the quality is astounding.

Catherine:

I didn’t spend any money on [marketing]. I used my blog, Twitter account and Facebook page, and Goodreads for running giveaways [of print books].

Joanna:

I do all the marketing/launch [myself], and collaborate with other authors. I pay for BookBub and other email list advertising after launch once the book has good reviews. This is usually the most effective paid advertising for fiction authors in particular.

Cost: BookBub advertising varies by genre and list price.

Dana:

My strongest launch effort was my Launch Team. Beyond that, all promotion has cost is my time and effort: I guest blog, run social media promotions, do ebook giveaways, host online events, etc. to engage readers and get my name out there.

What about miscellaneous costs?

Indirect costs like travel, promotional swag, contest fees, audiobook recording and website hosting can help sell books as well as promote your entire business or brand, so consider these items part of your marketing budget.

Hope:

[When traveling to promote a book], I do not travel outside my state without being compensated for room, board, travel and an honorarium. I make appearances in conjunction with personal travel as well.

I did submit Shy to the EPIC awards for ebooks, and it made finalist in the nonfiction category in early 2014. But keep in mind that I use this book for back-of-the-room sales, to have a tool when I speak. It’s one of several tools I have, so it’s difficult to define individual expenses.

Catherine:

My domain name costs $18 a year (my blog is free on WordPress.com). I do regularly have travel costs to events but this are offset by the speaking fees.

For my first book, Mousetrapped, I had a bookstore launch but I’d never do it again. I had to buy the stock, print flyers [and] invites, buy an outfit to wear, etc., and while it was fun I didn’t make any money that I wouldn’t have made without it.

I since avoid stock at all costs — if I’m holding a physical edition of my book, I’ve lost money.

The totals: How much does it cost to publish a book?

It’s tough to nail down a final cost because of the number of indirect and one-time expenditures. With that in mind, here are approximate costs for one book from each of our authors:

Hope:

$250 for cover design

Greatest cost: cover design

Saves by: building relationships for bartering, tapping her network

DIYs: print layout, marketing, sales and distribution

Catherine:

$1,250 (less bartering for cover design) for ebook conversion, cover design and editing

Greatest cost: ebook conversion

Saves by: promoting online, limiting print stock, building relationships for bartering

DIYs: formatting, marketing, sales and distribution

Joanna:

$1,650 for editing and print formatting, bartering for cover design, plus BookBub ad fees

Greatest cost: editing

Saves by: building relationships for bartering

DIYs: marketing, ebook formatting and conversion, sales and distribution

Dana:

$150 for editing and illustrations, plus $5 per month for distribution

Greatest cost: illustrations

Saves by: bartering for editing and illustrations

DIYs: cover design, formatting and conversion, marketing, sales and distribution

Key takeaways

  • Look into your network to see how you can trade or barter services, experience, influence or exposure to offset the costs of self-publishing services.
  • Editors and cover designers you hire should know your voice and understand your genre — these aren’t one-size-fits-all services!
  • All stages and costs of self-publishing differ significantly from nonfiction to fiction.
  • Expect the greatest portion of your budget to go toward editing and cover design.
  • Very little (or none) of your budget should go toward paid advertising, other promotional services or print runs of the book.
  • To save money without sacrificing quality, you can DIY formatting and conversion with a little research and practice, if you’re willing to put in the time. Here’s a guide to formatting and converting an ebook for Kindle from TWL Assistant Editor Heather van der Hoop.
  • You’ll make a number of one-time investments early on, like purchasing software for word processing and design or taking courses in self-publishing and marketing. Your first self-publishing project is likely to be the biggest hit to your wallet — and the greatest investment in your writing career.

Are you ready to self-publish your book?

Stop fretting about those costs, and start planning. Self-publishing is all about innovation and creativity. Now that you’ve created a product or work of art (or both!), flip the switch and use your creativity on the business side of things.

Successful self-publishers are ambitious entrepreneurs who learn to wear several hats and display a variety of talents. To understand and cover the costs of self-publishing your book, dig into your network, do your research and plan ahead how you’ll allocate your time and money.

 

Making Money as a Writer

17 grants

Question:  How do you make money as a writer?

Writers write because they are compelled to, because they are  crazy, because they want to tell their story, feel that writing is their purpose, their passion and some write for profit.  Making money in a shapeshifting industry for writers is always a creative edge.  From simply paying the bills to making six figures, most people do not consider grants as coming to the rescue for getting your project off the ground.  Rebecca McCray (see her profile at the end of her article) did some serious homework for you so I am passing her article along to add to your file on how to get paid as a writer.

typewriter and champagne

“Writing may be incredibly satisfying, but it’s not a cash cow; most writers do what they do because they love it and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

When you find yourself with a big, time-consuming writing project to pursue, your love of words alone might not pay the bills. That’s when grant money can swoop in to save the day (and your budget).  Here are 17 great grants for writers. Ready to apply for money to fund your writing?

1. Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grants

These grants are available to women and transgender artists and writers based in the Delaware Valley region whose work emphasizes social change. That means “social change must be integral to the ideas, beliefs and goals that are woven throughout your [writing] and your process of creating and sharing your art,” and should positively engage the community.

Keep in mind that one key to success for this grant is securing a “Change Partner”: an individual, business, or organization that is connected to your work, and who will endorse your project.

If you are at least 18 years old and live in Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia counties, you are eligible to apply. All genres are welcome. Applications must be received by March 1, 2015, and you can only apply once per grant cycle. Check out this page for all the details.

2. Artist Trust

If you are a resident of Washington state, this is the grant for you.

The Grants for Artists Program (GAP) awards up to $1,500 annually to 50 practicing literary and visual artists. Grant money can support the “development, completion or presentation of new work.”

Applications for the next round of grants will be available in March 2015; check out the details here. The organization also connects artists to an array of services, including career development, legal support, residencies and continuing education (just to name a few).

3. Bard College Fiction Prize

This writer-in-residence award is an amazing opportunity for an emerging writer over the age of 39 to devote a semester to a fiction project.

The recipient is required to give one public lecture on the campus and to informally meet with Bard students, but the rest of the time is devoted to their writing project. Bard College’s writing program boasts a talented faculty and a beautiful Annandale-on-Hudson campus in New York.

The award is annual, with this year’s project deadline having just passed on July 15, 2014; look for details on the 2015 deadline shortly. The application process is very straightforward; no lengthy FAQ pages here. Applicants should havepublished at least one book, three copies of which must be submitted with a cover letter explaining their next project and their C.V.

4. A Room Of Her Own Freedom Award

An especially generous grant of $50,000, this award is for a female writer in any genre with a true vision for her project. The application is a serious undertaking, but AROHO boasts that the process is a rewarding one, whether or not you end up with the big prize.

This grant period’s deadline has yet to be announced, so starting dreaming and planning now. Take a look at some of the past grantees and their work for inspiration.

5. Arts Writers Grant Program

If contemporary visual art is your writing area of expertise, you’re in luck. This grant funds writers who are passionate and knowledgeable about contemporary art and whose work will broaden the arts writing audience.

Good news for those who are trying to break into the arts writing field: emerging talent is welcome to apply. Writers can apply for a grant in one of five project types: blog, article, book, new and alternative media, or short-form writing. With prizes that range from $5,000 to $50,000, keep your eye out for the application period to reopen in spring 2015. Details are available here.

6. Sustainable Arts Foundation Award

This award of $2,000 or $6,000 stands out from the crowd by specifically supporting artists and writers with at least one child under the age of 18. The foundation strives to support parents who are trying to balance their creative work with the demands of child rearing.

Interested applicants should submit a sample of their work (maximum 25 pages), along with the answers to the questions found here. The fall deadline is September 8, 2014. Writers with kids might also want to keep an eye on this foundation’s work funding organizations that are trying to make their residency programs more parent friendly.

7. Creative Capital

If you’ve been working as a writer for at least five years, Creative Capital’s individual awards for “Artist Projects” might be for you. They aim to support working artists (in film, visual and performing art, emerging fields and literature) through funding and career development, based on a venture-capital model with the goal of helping grant recipients build sustainable artistic practices.

Projects receive between $10,000 and $50,000. Past literature recipients includeRebecca Solnit, Ben Marcus, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, and Alan Gilbert. Applications for Literature Projects will be accepted from February 2 to 28, 2015, and winners will be announced in 2016, so you have plenty of time to get organized.

Check out an online info session and this page for details on the application process. Note: applicants must also be over 25 years old, legal permanent residents of the United States and cannot be full-time students.

8. Arizona Artist Research and Development Grant

Arizona writers who are “pioneering new works” may want to try their luck with this grant, awarded to 10 to 12 artists across disciplines each year. The grant’s amount goes up to $5,000 depending on funding, though last year the average award was $3,500.

Applicants whose projects emphasize the “new” — new methodologies, new strategies, new ways of engaging readers — are primed for success. Writers should also explicitly state in their applications how their project will impact not just their own artistic practices, but also the larger Arizona community. The application has numerous demanding parts, so be sure to give yourself time to delve into the guidelines and meet the September 18, 2014 deadline.

9. Table 4

In honor of New York restaurateur Elaine Kaufman, the Table 4 Writers Foundation offers funding to New York City-based fiction and nonfiction writers.

Kaufman was known for opening the doors of her Upper East Side restaurant to established writers as well as those who were waiting for their big break, sometimes even picking up the tab when they were low on cash. The grant upholds this spirit by supporting promising writers aged 21 and older with grants of $2,500.

Applicants must provide an unpublished writing sample that somehow addresses New York City and an explanation of how the grant will further their latest project. Take a look at past winners and details here. The 2014 deadline hasn’t been posted yet, but last year’s application was due in October.

10. Minnesota Artist Initiative Grant

Minnesota-based writers of poetry and prose should keep an eye on this grant in 2015, awarded in amounts of $2,000 to $10,000. If you’ve been a resident for at least six months and are 18 or older, the Minnesota State Arts Board will consider your application for this grant, which supports the “career building and creative development” of Minnesota artists across mediums.

Public engagement is key for successful applicants; all projects must include a community component such as a reading or open workshop. Find the full details of the application process here.

11. Spirit of Writing Grant

If your writing project involves or serves a team, this grant may be a good fit for you. The Crystal Spirit Publishing grant supports writing projects that benefit a group of people rather than just an individual writer, particularly projects that tackle a designated problem head-on.

Expect to explain the problem in your application and how your work will address it. There are two application cycles per year; this year’s deadlines were in January and July, so you have time to prepare for 2015. Winners receive grants ranging from $500 to $2,500, but keep in mind the larger sums will likely go to organizational entrants as the grant is open to both organizations and individuals.

12. Kansas City Inspiration Grant

Kansas City writers may be awarded between $250 and $2,500 for professional development and budding projects. The regional arts council notes that the highest priority for the grant is to fund projects that significantly advance career development or an artist’s capacity to complete their work — not to fund “business as usual.”

Interested applicants can submit letters of intent, the first step, in March, July and November. A full proposal, which includes six samples of work, is only submitted after an applicant passes this initial phase.

Note that if you request more than $1,000 for your project, matching funds may be required. Check out the Inspiration Resources page for more information.

13. RISCA Project Grants for Artists

As with most other state arts council-based grants, this Rhode Island grant is available to writers who ultimately plan to share their work with the public through a reading, performance or other open event. The emphasis on public value is strong with the RI Arts Council, so this grant will best serve socially minded writing projects.

Submit applications twice per year, on April 1 and October 1. Individual applicants can request up to a whopping $10,000, but be mindful that more realistic requests are more likely to be granted, and if your request is especially sizeable you might consider providing proof that other organizations or individuals have invested monetarily in your project.

Note that applicants to this program must contact the director, Cristina DiChiera, before submission. Find her contact information here, along with all the application details.

14. Arts Council Grants for the Arts

Writers of fiction and poetry in England are eligible for this grant opportunity. Some nonfiction options exist for particularly innovative applicants, but theguidelines explicitly exclude screenwriting.

Public engagement and significant professional development are key for successful applicants, and writers should be able to demonstrate the support of an objective third-party such as a publisher, editor or literary organization that also supports their work.

One of the great things about this grant is that the funding can be applied to a broad range of resources, including residencies, mentoring, research or simply time to write.

15. Wyoming Individual Artist Grant

Awards of up to $500 are available for Wyoming writers of prose, poetry, scripts or screenplays. The Wyoming Arts Council notes that many applicants who receive the grant use the funding for travel or to build a professional website.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but should be submitted at least six weeks prior to the anticipated project start date. The application process is delightfully straightforward; take a look here for more information.

16.North Carolina Regional Project Grant

North Carolina writers at any stage in their careers are invited to apply for grants to fund new or existing projects, with awards ranging from $300 to $5,000.

Application procedures and deadlines vary depending on your county, so make sure you reach out to the office designated on this page for specific regional details. The guidelines are fairly open-ended, which is good news for writers who want to use the funds for a variety of professional development needs.

17.Awesome Foundation Grant

This grant is as awesome as it sounds. Winners receive $1,000 with “no strings attached” to pursue their incredibly awesome projects, and the foundation and its donors have no say in the finished project.

Chapters of the foundation organized by region or subject review applications and select the grantees. The process is almost unsettlingly simple (the website boasts it can be completed in 15 minutes), but don’t be deterred — this really is a great opportunity.

Looking for more great grants and funding options? Check out C. Hope Clark’s fantastic list of opportunities at Funds for Writers.”

 

Rebecca McCray is a New York-based writer who covers social justice, criminal justice reform, and whatever else catches her eye. Check out more of her writing here. .

Rebecca McCray | @rebeccakmccray

Dana Sitar

FEATURED

18775337[1]

Stories of Mighty Women: New Biographies for Adult Readers

Posted on Dec. 20th, 2014 by Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist.  I am reposting this for your interest.   A Might Girl is “The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.” Check them out at www.amightgirl.com.

When we share stories about famous women from history, adults in our community often comment that they’re amazed that they’ve never learned about these world-changing women. And, while people love the biographies we post for children and teens, many adults would also like to learn more about these inspiring women. To that end, in our first-ever post filled with reading recommendations for adults and older teen readers, we’re sharing twenty books about incredible women of past and present.

Our recommendations are all biographies with the exception of one remarkable work of historical fiction, The Invention of Wings. Moreover, to help you discover a few of the amazing new biographies which have been recently released, all of our recommended books have been published in the past two years and several are brand new releases.

Since A Mighty Girl’s website does not have a book section for adult readers, you won’t find these recommendations on our site; however, we’ve included links below to Amazon so you can learn more or order individual titles.

So whether you’re looking for a good book to delve into or a last-minute holiday gift for a friend, these women’s stories are sure to inspire!

51iVEjrLrHL[1]The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

In the 1830s, Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, was one of the most reviled women in the US. With her sister, Angelina, she rebelled against family, society, and religion, speaking out for liberty and equality both for African Americans and for women. In this fictionalized biography, on her 11th birthday Sarah is given a 10-year-old slave nicknamed Handful to be her lady’s maid, but instead, the two young women grow up together, each striving for a life unimpeded by social expectations. While a work of historical fiction, Kidd goes beyond the historical record to flesh out the rich interior lives of these remarkable real-life women.

Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman — 90,000 Lives Changed by Dr. Hawa Abdi

When the Somali government collapsed in 1991, aid groups had to flee, so Dr. Abdi, who is often called “the Mother Teresa of Somalia,” turned her 1,300 acres of farmland into a safe haven. There, up to 90,000 people, ignoring the clan lines that so often divided Somalia, sought comfort and shelter. Yet, while her humanitarian work, which has saved tens of thousands of lives, was rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination and other accolades, her story is also one of personal struggle, loss, and the determination to change the country that will always be her home.

2D274905957270-YesPlease.blocks_desktop_medium[1]Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz

She began as an unconventional young woman who ran off to join a spy agency, and ended up an icon of both television and cooking! This entertaining and detailed biography of the beloved TV chef captures the supreme confidence Child demonstrated throughout her life — including her willingness to take the pretentious down a peg. Her light tone and sense of humor passed on that confidence to cooks across America, reassuring them that they, too, could achieve what they dreamed. She may have only been seeking a way to express her true self, but she also changed American culture forever.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

This funny and candid book is a collection of lists, stories, poems, and other fragments that come together to reveal the life and career of one of the world’s favorite comedians! She talks about a “too safe” childhood, her early years in New York, breaking into entertainment, and then the realities of life in Hollywood and “the biz.” Additional touches in this memoir provide words of wisdom about work, love, self-image, and above all, being true to yourself and finding the people who appreciate you for who you are.

18143768[1]Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland was living in a motel room with her five siblings when she first laid her hands on a ballet barre at the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles. Within a year, she was performing professionally. Today, she is the first African American soloist for the American Ballet Theater. During her meteoric rise, she found herself caught between the joy she found in ballet and the tough reality of her family life, culminating in a custody battle between her ballet teacher and her mother. With an honest, warm voice, she talks about the challenges of poverty, dance, and finding the balance between achieving your dreams and staying true to yourself.

Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First Female Rocket Scientist by George D. Morgan

Morgan’s son tells the story of the little-known woman whose work was critical to the launch of America’s first satellite. As a teenager in the late 1930s, Morgan dreamed of a career in chemistry at a time when most of her peers dreamed of husbands and children. When top scientists like Wernher von Braun could not find solutions to the repeated failures of the American space program’s rockets, the job was given to North American Aviation — and to Morgan. The formula she developed for rocket fuel launched Explorer 1 into the stratosphere and beyond.

My_Beloved_World_cover[1]My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor went from a Bronx housing project to a sitting as a federal judge, the first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the US Supreme Court. Although her mother and grandmother loved her fiercely, a childhood illness taught her that she herself held the responsibility of seeking a better life. A television character set her sights on a future in law, and she went on to be high school valedictorian and receive the highest honors at Princeton. With grace and candor, she reveals how the joys and challenges of her life — both personal and professional — have inspired her to become the person she is today.

My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize by Jody Williams

As a child, Williams’ sense of compassion and justice was driven by the bullies who tormented her deaf brother Stephen. As a young adult, she protested the US’ involvement in Vietnam and later, the war in El Salvador. Then she was asked to head a campaign to ban and clear land mines around the world, and she began a truly extraordinary journey — one that finished with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, for which she shared the Nobel Peace Prize. And although her accomplishments seem astounding, Williams’ message is clear: anyone can change the world.

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Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

In 1955, 67-year-old great-grandmother Emma Gatewood told her family she was going for a walk. The next time anyone heard of her, she had walked 800 miles of the 2,050 mile Appalachian Trail. And she wasn’t done yet: at the end of five months, she became the first woman ever to walk the full length of what was then a little-known and poorly maintained footpath. Her stories of surviving a rattlesnake, two hurricanes, and more captivated the country — and her criticism of the state of the path led to public attention, saving the Appalachian Trail.

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr

She broke through 25 years of white male fighter pilot astronauts to become America’s first woman in space on the seventh shuttle flight. But in addition to her inspiring firsts, Ride contributed decades of her life to striving for the stars — both in her continued work with NASA and in her promotion of science education for children, especially girls. This insightful biography also explores Ride’s personal life, including that, despite her prominence, it wasn’t until after her death that the world learned of Ride’s love for her partner Tam O’Shaughnessy. Sherr, a news commentator and one of Ride’s close friends, paints a remarkable portrait of a woman who changed the way we thought of science, space, and women.

18679391[1]Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

Abbott chronicles four very different women who made their mark in Civil War history in this fascinating story that almost seems too far-fetched to be true! These women, Belle Boyd, courier and spy for the Confederate Army; Emma Edmonds, who assumed a man’s identity to become a Union soldier; Rose O’Neale Greenhowe, who used her affairs with Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy; and Elizabeth Van Lew, who used proper Southern manners as she concealed a wide-reaching espionage ring, show how women have never truly just sat on the sidelines.

However Long The Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph by Aimee Molloy

When Molly Melching spent time as an exchange student in Senegal in 1974, she became aware of a world she had never seen at home in the US. When she returned home, she was determined to help, and founded Tostan, a group dedicated to helping African communities develop. Unlike many organizations, she insisted that Tostan empower local people through democracy and education, so that the change would come from within — and thanks to her dedication, Tostan’s strategies have led to improved education, better health care, and a decrease in child and forced marriages in Senegal and elsewhere.

19500064[1]The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney

She was the daughter of a general and a royal mother, but instead of bearing sons to rule Ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut ruled the country herself. As pharaoh and regent for the infant Thutmose III, she assumed a male identity. While she reigned, Ancient Egypt entered one of its most prolific building periods. Yet, after her death, many of her monuments were destroyed, leaving details of her rule shrouded in mystery. Egyptologist Cooney dramatizes the story of this remarkable pharaoh for an intriguing and compelling portrait.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

On October 9, 2012, when shots rang out on a bus in Pakistan, the whole world took notice: Malala Yousafzai, already known for her passionate writing in favor of educational access for all, was catapulted to international attention. Since then, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize. In this memoir, Yousafzai writes about her childhood under a restrictive Taliban regime, her father’s determination for her to achieve an education — and why speaking up for education for all children was worth facing an assassin’s bullet.

15801668[1]The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at the height of World War II, nearly 75,000 people had no idea that their real purpose there was to create an atomic bomb. These people, many of them women from small towns, were recruited with promises of excellent wages and came to do everything from janitorial work to engineering. With the project shrouded in secrecy, though, it wasn’t until years later that they understood the part they had played in history. Kiernan talks to 10 different women who worked in Oak Ridge to capture the strange contrast of the city: dances and rations side by side with uranium and fission.

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman

Nellie Bly, reporter for the World newspaper, was a scrappy hardened journalist; Elizabeth Bisland, journalist from The Cosmopolitan magazine, was born to privilege and preferred novels to newspapers. But on November 14, 1889, each of them set off on a quest to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional Phileas Fogg’s 80-day trip around the world. This remarkable story of two round-the-world journeys, from their frenzied starts to the aftermath, chronicles how two very different trailblazing women found themselves rivals in a race the world would never forget.

Wonder-Woman[1]The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

Lepore examines the surprising origins of Wonder Woman by delving into the papers of William Moulton Marston. Even as he wrote articles celebrating “conventional family life”, Marston lived a highly unconventional life behind closed doors — and when he set his mind to creating the world’s most popular female superhero, he took inspiration from early feminists and suffragists, including Emmeline Pankhurst and Margaret Sanger. The story of Wonder Woman’s secret history highlights how this remarkable character bridged “waves” of feminism and what she still has to teach us about feminism today.

Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz

She was a gospel prodigy, a teen mother, and a struggling artist, until a music producer who saw her potential suggested she return to her gospel and soul roots and a star was born. Ritz chronicles Franklin’s ups and downs with honesty and sympathy: her musical successes, her difficult relationships, her career reinventions and her life’s ambitions. Through it all, Ritz celebrates how Franklin manages to triumph over the challenges in her life and remains one of the most influential musicians of recent history.

11816100[1]The Favored Daughter: One Woman’s Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future by Fawzia Koofi

As the nineteenth daughter of the family, Koofi was left by her mother to die in the sun as an infant, but she survived. Despite her abusive family, the brutal Russian and Taliban regimes, numerous attempts on her own life, and the murders of her father, brother, and husband, she has remained determined to change her country — and she has risen to become the first female Afghani Parliament speaker. With painful honesty she tells her story, interspersed with letters she wrote to her own daughters before each political trip. This is not just her personal story, but the story of her dream of the Afghanistan of the future: one where her daughters, and all women, will be truly free.

A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World’s Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor by Caroline Stoessinger

Before she died at the age of 110, Alice Herz-Sommer was an eyewitness to some of the most dramatic moments of recent history. This remarkable biography follows her from a childhood in Poland to life as a celebrated pianist, imprisonment in a concentration camp, and finally a simple life playing well-attended home concerts in Israel. Despite the tragedies she suffered, she proudly lived without bitterness, refusing to let the hateful actions of others make her forget the goodness and joy of life. A beautiful story of the woman who became known as the subject of Academy Award-winning documentary The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

These stories of Mighty Women should not just be for our children, but for all of us. We hope that these books help you learn more about the unsung women of the past.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

  • For biographies for toddlers to teens about girls and women throughout history, visit our Biography section.
  • For more books about Mighty Girl history for kids, check out our US History and World History sections.

Help keep A Mighty Girl growing in the years ahead!

If you discover any books or other resources via this post that you would like to purchase, please use the “Buy at Amazon” link on every A Mighty Girl product page. By doing so, at no added cost to you, you help to support the site and allow us to continue providing you with wonderful girl-empowering resources. Thanks for your support!

 

The Writer’s Experience in Costa Rica

               The Writer’s Experience in Costa Rica

                                                          With Maya Christobel

blue osa spa        Blue osa beach

This immersion workshop is to rejuvenate your writing spirit, your body and your soul. Blue Osa Retreat and Spa Eco-Village is located in Costa Rica in what National Geographic says is the most beautiful rainforest in the world. Come and join us to learn creative writing skills, craft a first project, finish your final draft of a novel or dive into a story you have always known you were born to tell. And in between working in-group, polishing an article, meeting with Maya one on one, have a Thai massage, gather shells on the beach and eat organic vegetarian meals prepared with love. For all the information on this extensive Eco-Village visit: www.blueosa.com.

blue osa food                     blue osa room

 When: Sept. 19-26, 2015                                                                                                              

Cost: $1800 (airfare not included)                                                                                                  

Early Bird Registration is up to July 15th, 2015 for a savings. Limited to 10 participants

Includes all of your gratuities at the Eco-Village, four fabulous meals a day, airport shuttle and 7 nights’ accommodations, all with breathtaking beauty and bounty. Cost does not include spa treatments or professional yoga classes and Eco Tours.

best Maya Photo for 2015

Maya Christobel is a Harvard psychotherapist, professional writer, award-winning screenwriter and teacher working with people for over 30 years. She has published books and screenplays, produced music with AOMusic, and ghostwritten fiction and non-fictionShe is currently coaching clients around the world who are writing novels and memoirs, children’s books and writing for life. Her resume is here at www.mythotherapy.org and her website is www.mayalunachristobel.com

Early Bird Registration is $1600 if deposit is received by June 30th. (see website)

Deposit Required to Register is $500, balance due August 15th 2015.

Maya can be reached with any questions at mayachristobel@gmail.com

Extensive FAQs and Information will be available at www.mythotherapy.org on The Writer’s Experience page at the top of this site.  

30 Books to Read by 30

 

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Some books are best read at a certain age. Even the novels and memoirs you might consider timeless — Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye or Joan Didion’sThe Year of Magical Thinking — can serve a special purpose if consumed during a particular phase in your life. That particular phase is, of course, your 20s.

The much celebrated, sometimes maligned, decade is an undeniably impressionable one. You’ve happily exited your teens, slowly freeing yourself of the weighty angst you carried throughout high school. You might have one foot in college and the other in a career, even if you’re well beyond graduation, nestled comfortably in a new job — maybe even a relationship. But you’re probably not settled — financially, emotionally, spiritually, artistically. You’re aching for a philosophy, for a template for adulthood; anything that will anchor your constantly evolving life to solid ground.

Cue the 30 books you should read before you turn 30! From Alice Munro to Ralph Ellison, these are the books that are best read in your 20s, when you’re restless and hungry for new ideas. Whether you’re just starting the decade or about to leave it, you’ve still got time to put a dent in this literary bucket list. Enjoy:

1. Lives of Girls and Women, Alice Munro

At long last, Munro’s short stories have been given their due acknowledgment as some of the best crafted by a living writer. Her characters are humble, witty, relatable; her tales read like conversations with an old, self-aware friend. Her novel, too, is among the best coming-of-age stories. Following young Del Jordan on adolescent adventures with her Encyclopedia-selling mother and her best friend Naomi, the interwoven tales are set in a small town, but will remind almost any reader of their own first encounters with isolation, lust and ambition. -Maddie Crum

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2. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

In this hauntingly elegiac book, Woolf evokes the painful inevitability of time’s passage. The Ramsays are enjoying a summer on the Isle of Skye; the children, husband and guests are all effortlessly entertained by the bewitching Mrs. Ramsay. Time passes, and we revisit the house, but it’s empty and left open to the elements. Losses have been suffered that could not have been foreseen in the idyllic days documented in the first section. To the Lighthouse captures the agony of loss contained in growing up, and reminds us all, hopefully, to be grateful for the blessings we may often overlook when we’re feeling young and invincible. -Claire Fallon

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3. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

Didion’s memoir begins when, one evening, just before dinner, her husband unexpectedly suffers a heart attack and dies. What follows is an honest and impassioned story of the author’s first year without him, from the fallacious thoughts saying he’ll return, to the small daily rituals that will never be the same. Grief is not often talked about in detail, but this book captures its essence. -Priscilla Frank

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4. In Persuasion Nation, George Saunders

Saunders packages together satire and sci-fi so adeptly, in short and digestible spurts, approaching everything from contagion to commercialism. And he doesn’t shy away from the horrific future he seems to feel is just a stone’s throw from our own era. It’s a dose of unreality everyone under 30 (and over, for that matter) should experience. -Katherine Brooks

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5. Ulysses, James Joyce

This hefty, heady masterpiece about a single day in Dublin revolutionized the modernist literary scene. Read it to ruminate on perception, to relate to the father-searching angst of young artist Stephen Dedalus, or just to remember how much you experience in 24 hours. Investing in a companion book (or college course) would not go amiss. -Colton Valentine

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6. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen

Ah, the catastrophic voyage from youth to adulthood. Nobody seems to capture it as accurately, if sarcastically, as Franzen. Three siblings each attempt to navigate the rough waters beyond their hometown, where things aren’t so stable lately, either. Egotistical middle kid Chip has dismayingly been barred from academia; career-driven Denise is caught up in affair (or two); seemingly stable Gary has been feeling drearier than his pristine home will have you believe. At the very least, The Corrections is a smart, funny break from your own quarter-life or midlife crisis. -Maddie Crum

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7. Middlemarch, George Eliot

Eliot’s great gift as a novelist was her breadth of empathy, which stretched wide enough to cover spoiled society brats and humble farmers alike. In Middlemarch, we see the emotional education of a varied cast of young people — naively idealistic Dorothea, selfish Rosamond, ambitious Dr. Lydgate, goodhearted rake Fred Vincy, and more — as they take the first steps toward shaping the rest of their lives. Eliot deftly impresses on readers the need for personal maturation, and the possible consequences of making poor choices early in life, but all with a warm understanding that acts as a balm to those of us still struggling toward adulthood. -Claire Fallon

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8. The Sabbath, AJ Heschel

Heschel’s compact gem explores the history and significance of the Jewish tradition of Shabbat. Yet even for the non-religious reader, the book offers a gripping and timely meditation on the holiness of time, as relevant as ever in today’s space-dominated world. Whether or not you’re practicing or Jewish at all, this book will show the immense import of a day of rest. -Priscilla Frank

sabbath

9. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

On the surface, Yanagihara’s prose follows four friends fresh out of university, fitted with romanticized character arcs that intersect and detach in familiar, post-collegiate ways. But beyond the glamour of making it to — and flourishing within — the fantasy world that is Manhattan, the author picks away at our ability to understand grief and depression, challenging the reader to be more and more empathetic. And your 20s is a better time than any to hone the oft-overlooked trait of empathy. (Bonus: The books is physically hefty at over 700 pages, but ravenously readable.) -Katherine Brooks

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10. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

A wake-up call for any young adult on how race and gender burrow deeply into (adolescent) psychology. The novel’s treatment of endemic prejudice is frighteningly applicable to 2015, and it hones your ability to pick apart the ways that prejudice manifests in our supposedly pure sense of beauty. At the same time, Morrison manages to coat even the most appalling actions in impossibility gorgeous words. Her style is purple prose done to perfection. -Colton Valentine

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11. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante

The first in a mysterious Italian author’s series about the intertwined lives of two female friends, this novel not only brings to life the pleasures and difficulties of intimacy, but also the stubborn nature of fate. As narrator Elena and her childhood comrade Lila attempt to escape the violent, patriarchal strictures of Neapolitan life through education and romance respectively, they learn that doing so would require much more than objective success. -Maddie Crum

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12. White Teeth, Zadie Smith

White Teeth crosses generations, following two war buddies, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, and the cultural struggles faced by them and their families in a rapidly changing England. Jones’ biracial, brilliant daughter and Iqbal’s rebellious sons form close friendships and blossom in different strengths, but their paths to adulthood are strewn with pitfalls — like a profound longing for acceptance that any young person, and any immigrant, can likely relate to. Adolescence is awkward for most of us — even girls, so often presented as nubile and lovely in art — and Smith takes the fumbling insecurity, physical self-consciousness and shifting identity and unflinchingly lays it all on the page. -Claire Fallon

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13. I Love Dick, Chris Kraus

I Love Dick is part diary, part theory, part fiction, part autobiography, part confession, part manifesto. Kraus’ story begins when she and her husband embark on the strange, erotic exercise of sending love letters to the man Kraus wants desperately to sleep with. Kraus’ book urges women to be exposed, paradoxical, desirous, even destructive — anything but quiet. -Priscilla Frank

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14. Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, ed. Dan Wakefield

Reading a compilation of letters so specific and intimate, spanning decades of one person’s life, gives a 20-something (or me, at least) a sense of the passing of time. Vonnegut’s collected correspondence offers readers a glimpse of the rougher sides of his experience as a professional writer; the balancing game of maintaining relationships with loved ones and friends, colleagues and critics. Most importantly, it proves in one way or another that real life, the stuff of nonfiction, propels forward, even after the most unmanageable moments of anguish. -Katherine Brooks

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15. The Symposium, Plato

A gorgeous examination of beauty, love, and education told in a series of speeches (“encomia”) by Greeks who become increasingly intoxicated as the night goes on. It’s both a dose of idealism and a reminder to never take anyone, even Plato, too seriously. Recommendation: read in one Starbucks sitting, then walk outside and prepare for transcendence. You might just enter the world of forms. -Colton Valentine

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16. Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill

On its face, Offill’s slim novel is a sparse reflection on infidelity — the forces that bring people together, and the forces that wedge them apart. But the author’s magical command of language infuses her story with scientific metaphors, lyrical observations about what it is to be human, and hilarious anecdotes about yoga pants. -Maddie Crum

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17. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

Every now and then, you’ll read a book that will pick up your worldview and shake it like a Boggle board, leaving everything in a somewhat different position that before. Invisible Man is one of those books. And it’s great to shake up your worldview as soon as possible rather than go through your life playing the same letters. (Right?) Invisible Man excavates the psychological damage inflicted by racism, as well as the economic and physical toll, as its increasingly bitter narrator endures countless betrayals and indignities both in his native South and in Harlem, where he ultimately moves. The unseen trauma festers into a rage that saturates his every fiber, leaving us questioning the structures of our society and the hidden causes of seemingly inexplicable pain. -Claire Fallon

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18. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah is a love story, following two teenagers in Nigeria as they grow up and leave their country of origin. But more importantly, it’s a sharp and raw portrait of contemporary race relations, depicting just how different an experience it is to be African in America and to be an African-American. Adichie’s hilarious, sparkling prose make her characters so true to life you’ll learn big lessons about relationships and gender dynamics without even trying. -Priscilla Frank

americanah

19. Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng

In the moment, Ng’s book is a thriller, one that tells the story of a high-school girl’s abrupt death amidst the rumor mill of a 1970s-era college town in Ohio. The story lingers as a familial portrait, though, one that reflects on the roles our parents, siblings and children reluctantly play in order to keep the nuclear unit afloat — and the impact of the secrets we all keep from each other. While the novel is just over 300 pages, it packs a punch, spanning the early murmurs of feminism as well as the racial biases of 20th-century White America. Overall, it’s a stunning glimpse into the generation that preceded Millennials. -Katherine Brooks

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20. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

“To understand just one life you have to swallow the world,” says protagonist Saleem Sinai. The novel charts a group of children endowed with magical powers who were born just before midnight on the eve of India and Pakistan’s division. Its scope is massive — reaching through generations and decades of political intrigue — but it focuses the telling of history in the tragedy of individual lives. Rushdie’s novel is an exceptional introduction to postcolonial writing. It asks us why we tell stories the way we do, and then proposes a some fantastical alternatives. Be prepared to swallow its world. -Colton Valentine

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21. The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Barnes’s Booker-winning novel is a short, emotionally demanding read about nostalgia, and how we process and make sense of our wending memories. Middle-aged protagonist Tony has allowed himself to become comfortable with his life as a cordial divorced man, until an unexpected letter forces him to rethink his friendships of yore, especially his connection with the intellectually serious Adrian Finn. In doing so, Tony — and Barnes — sheds light on the relative nature of time, and how we determine what we value most. -Maddie Crum

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22. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

Every reading list should have some Robinson on it. The pre-30 years are a particularly apt time to read Housekeeping, her first novel and the only one not set in Gilead, Iowa. The tale is narrated by Ruthie, a young girl who, along with her sister Lucille, is left with an itinerant aunt after their mother takes her own life. An aura of the uncanny hovers over the lives of the threesome, as their aunt struggles to stay in town to care for the girls despite her wanderlust and obvious disconnect from society. Housekeeping makes vivid a sense of displacement and identity confusion that will cut right to your soul. -Claire Fallon

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23. Delta of Venus, Anais Nin

Nin’s collection of short erotica is one of the first from a female perspective. They were originally written for a private collector, who directed Nin to leave out the poetic language and focus on the sex. However, Nin’s evocative voice sparkles throughout in the bewitching and nasty tales touching on themes from masculinity to incest. -Priscilla Frank

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24. Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel, Paul Scheerbart

Written in 1913, Lesabéndio is equal parts philosophy and science fiction that mines an eternal debate: what is more valuable, construction in the name of science or creation in the name of art? For those pondering a professional future beyond their humanities educations, Scheerbart weighs the importance of technical discovery, aesthetic progress, and collaboration between artists and scientists. Bonus: Lesabéndio is one of the most original alien characters out there. -Katherine Brooks

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25. On the Genealogy of Morality, Friedrich Nietzsche

Perhaps the most polarizing philosopher on record, Nietzsche outlines a controversial ethical theory that will leave you well-equipped to spar with pseudo-intellectuals. His writings inspired a great deal of 20th-century thought — and a lot of late-night dorm conversations. So even if you hate him, it’s worth working through his ideas to articulate why. Spoiler: it’s actually far more complicated than “God is dead” nihilism. -Colton Valentine

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26. Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner

Lerner, most recently of 10:04 fame, forayed into novel-writing from poem-crafting (much to the delight of story lovers!) with Leaving the Atocha Station. Narrator Adam is a poet living in Spain on a fellowship, but more than writing he spends his time wandering around museums, smoking, and pursuing women. Comically self-effacing, Adam is restless youth personified. Aware of his flaws and shortcomings but unable to correct them, he instead invites the reader to witness his wanderings and musings firsthand and unfiltered. Lerner manages to make a potentially self-indulgent story a delicate portrayal of youthful idealism. -Maddie Crum

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27. Persuasion, Jane Austen

If you get to 30 and haven’t read any Austen… well, for shame. One of the creators of the modern novel, Austen isn’t just historically important; she’s acutely observant, laugh-out-loud funny, and full of timeless truths. Any of her major novels would be valuable reading, but don’t miss Persuasion. Her final completed novel, it lacks some of the vibrant hilarity of her earlier hits but makes up for it with its hopeful spirit. It’s a quiet story of youthful impressionability, living with regret, and finding second chances, full of wisdom for those of us suffering life’s first knocks and looking back on our first big mistakes. -Claire Fallon

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28. The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe

If you hate modern art, you will love this book. Even if you love modern art, you’ll probably love it. Wolfe’s irreverent takedown of art-world bullshit will make you feel so much better about your lukewarm feelings for Damien Hirst. Even if you disagree with Wolfe’s overall cranky message, it’s the best way to learn a lot about art while also laughing very hard. -Priscilla Frank

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29. Girls to the Front, Sara Marcus

Music nerds, assemble. No one should leave their 20s without understanding the impact of riot grrrls on contemporary culture, be it art, music, or feminism in general. Read this book, listen to every band mentioned, and relish in the DIY, “Rebel Girl” ethos of Kathleen Hanna and her ilk. -Katherine Brooks

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30. Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

A stark tragicomedy featuring two characters that wait and wait and wait some more. Language and relationships break down, hope fades, and we’re left wondering whether Godot is a mere symbol for the absence of modern spiritual salvation. Beckett may not offer much hope for your 20-something uncertainty, but at least his work reminds you that the rest of the world is also waiting for something miraculous to happen. -Colton Valentine

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