Read Like a Writer Book Club

[W]reading Wednesday – Second Installment

Stack of books on my desk (Photo: Theresa Duncan)

Many people have a summer reading list, which is somehow different from what they read the rest of the year. I have never understood this. I guess if I were on a beach, I might like a paperback, maybe something light – a quick read. I, like most serious writers, read all year, all kinds of books in all kinds of genres and covers, no matter the season.

What about you? Do your reading habits and styles change with the seasons?

In May, as you know, I am posting a

book per week, hoping to help you with your reading list. The goal is to help each of us read like a writer. We want to read for more than enjoyment. We writers study the craft. When we enjoy a book, we not only understand the story or message, but we strive to understand the tools the author used to make us want to follow the story, to keep turning the pages.

Here is this week’s installment.

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston

2019; W.W. Norton & Co., New York; 299 pages; $26.


In Deep Creek, Pam Houston shares a series of linked essays about her love for her land in the Colorado high country.  One of the most honest and beautifully written books I’ve read on a person’s attachment to a landscape threatened by fire and more, Houston leads readers through her pursuit to understand “how to be alive…in the final days…of the earth as I’ve known her,” (p. 295).  There is so much heart, so much love for the land in this book.  If you are a place-based writer, this book has many lessons to offer.

Read Like a Writer:

  • This is a series of linked essays.  What links them?  Is it a timeline?  A place?  A person?  Or all of these things?  Go beyond the obvious; see if there is more – perhaps a second subject?
  • Houston describes her 120-acre homestead in detail.  Notice the tools she uses to show you, rather than tell you, what this homestead is like.
  • What characteristics do the people and the animals possess?  How do those relate to the author’s purpose for writing?  How are those characteristics reflected in the author and in the land?
  • What purpose did the “Ranch Almanac” serve at the end of each chapter?

If you chose this book, please comment how reading this book like a writer helped you.

By the way, there is a great article in the February, 2019, issue of O, The Oprah Magazine ( about this book. What insights about the writer, book, and process might you find there?

Happy reading… ~T

At Stacking Stones Writers, I seek to create a community of writers, a place you can go to find encouragement for your passion – writing.  Please follow the Stacking Stones Writers blog to have easy access to all the tips, tools, and ideas shared here.  Thank you!

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