Read Like a Writer Book Club

[W]reading Wednesday – Third Installment

The goal of [W]reading Wednesday 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 readers want to follow the story, to keep turning the pages.

Here is this week’s installment.

Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear by Bryce Andrews

2019; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Boston, MA ; 272 pages; $25.


Down from the Mountain contains the biography of a sow grizzly bear and her twin cubs, interfacing with humans and navigating a changing landscape and ever-growing human population.  Andrews becomes involved in their story on a farm in the once remote Mission Valley of western Montana.  This work reveals life at the nexus of human/animal conflict in the West.

Read Like a Writer

-How does Andres leave room for his readers to reach their own conclusion about the dilemma? Notice the way Andrews treats all the people he encountered with respect, doing a good job of reporting without judgment.  (That is not to say the author does not reveal his own viewpoint.)

-Notice the tools Andrews uses to get readers to see the conflict from the viewpoint of the bears.  (Do you think he took too much leeway in some parts of the bear’s story?  If so, how could he have done it differently?  Or would you leave it as is?  Be sure to check out the “Author’s Note” at the end.)

-Andrews honesty reveals his own feelings about the bears.  What does his honesty and respect for his characters, both human and non-human, tell his reader about the author?  How can that inform your writing?

-This book is well-researched by the author and well-respected by many who know the author, the area, and the issues well (as seen in the “Author’s Note” and the list of non-fiction authors who praise the book).  This book is categorized as biographical and autobiographical.  Notice how Andrews weaves the stories of all involved into what I found to be a story hard to put down and hard to stop thinking about when finished with the last page.  Do you agree with this assessment? Why? Or why not?

There will be one more installment of this book club next week. Has this helped you? Have you read or begun to read any of these books? Please let me know in the comments – and let me know if you would like this feature to continue, maybe on a monthly rather than weekly basis. Until then…

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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