This is not an exit

Building a better journalist: The summer reading list

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I’m a staunch believer in the idea that consuming great work improves the ability to create your own. Just as some of your favorite musicians were inspired by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, it’s up to you to seek work that inspires you in whatever you choose to do. Hell, last year I spent plenty of time hounding reporters and editors at The Torch with copies of The Register-Guard and The Oregonian, urging them to read something that would interest them (and I wasn’t above hurling different sections at people in order to get their attention, either.)

That said, countless books and articles have been recommended to me over the years that I just haven’t had time to dive into. That changes this summer. In fact, I’ve already started the first book in my journalism-centric summer reading list. I’m only two chapters in and There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz already has me spellbound.

I’ve chosen an assortment of books and articles that range from hard features to investigative news in order to get as much out of my list as possible. My hope is to gain a stronger understanding of what makes a good story and what it takes to report on any given matter in an interesting way. Here’s the list, in no particular order:

There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
Drift by Rachel Maddow
Newjack by Ted Conover
Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America’s Illegal Aliens by Ted Conover
The Last Cowboy by Jane Kramer
Honor Thy Father, by Gay Talese

The $40 Laywer,” a series by Christopher Goffard of The Tampa Bay Times
A Brevard Woman Disappeared, but Never Left Home,” by Michael Kruse of The Tampa Bay Times
Tribal Housing: From Deregulation to Disgrace,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning series by Eric Nadler, Deborah Nelson and Alex Tizon of The Seattle Times
An LA Times series about the city of Bell, Calif., where public employees paid themselves outrageous salaries at the cost of the taxpayers

I know: The Rachel Maddow book might not fit with the other titles on the list, but I’ve always admired her opinions and analysis of major events, from politics to the economy. Besides, I’m also resuming my now three-year-old tradition of reading every Harry Potter book from Sorcerer’s Stone to Deathly Hallows starting July 31.

My hope is to finish each book in about a week, taking notes and blogging about my observations and impressions as I go. Feel free to follow my shenanigans in literature with the #journoreadinglist hashtag. And recommend something either in the comments, via Facebook or Twitter, dammit!

But what do YOU think?

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