You just need to write.

And read anything you can get your fingers on. Sometimes, you have to do both, penning scribbles to yourself or ideas, memories and creations and things you want to do while looking at what’s written on the back of boxes, old magazines, new books, even random lists. For you, it’s all about the written word, so why not ask for gifts this holiday that speak to what’s at the end of a pen?

Like the old chicken-and-egg schtick, you know that words are what create books, and “Elements of Fiction” by Walter Mosley is a great place to begin.

How does an accomplished novelist work? What can one do when faced with what seems like a perpetual blank page? How do you pull a character from a screen and make him seem like somebody’s neighbor? And once you’ve done that, how can you make his life interesting enough to keep a reader around?

It’s easy enough to make mistakes when penning your first (or second, or 15th) novel, but Mosley makes you better through thoughtful advice and great examples.

Punctuation matters just as much as do words, and in “Have You Eaten Grandma?” by Gyles Brandreth, you’ll laugh while you learn.

Chances are, if you’re a writer, you know where it’s common to put a comma and what signifies a full stop but with this book, you’ll get more tips on making your writing more succinct and correct. Brandreth also looks at “silent” letters, using apostrophes, and other lessons for which we all need refreshers now and again, as well as the use (and overuse) of exclamation points! Abbreviations! And terribly incorrect words!

For writers and readers alike, that makes this a fun book to have.

And finally, if writing makes you soar, and books soothe your soul, then you’ll want “What We Talk about When We Talk about Books” by Leah Price.

If you’re a book lover, you may worry about the rate of literacy in the U.S., but Price shows that there is no need to fret. Reading has always been a sporadic thing, as a whole, and there was even a time when attitudes toward print were the same as that which many people hold for electronics. What’s more, reading isn’t going anywhere; books themselves may change and we may have to learn new and different methods of finding them, but each new generation finds its own love for the printed word.

After all, if you can’t imagine a world without books, your kids probably can’t, either…

And so, if you’re someone who absolutely needs to put your thoughts and characters into words, of if you’re someone who has a book within 10 feet of your fingers at all times, here’s what you tell everyone you want for your gift. Print this out, hang it on the fridge, send it to anybody who’s buying, and point to it with impunity. Your family needs to know that for you, books on books and making books are the write gift.

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Contact book reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer at or at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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