Dear Indigo, 

I’d love to know what books you heart.

Your Secret Bookworm


I love the sweetness of your short note—and the content. So many writers (and editors) spend so much of our time writing (and editing) that it’s easy to forget the importance of making time to read and to study our craft.

I took a look along my bookshelves (and through the stacks, and between the bed and the wall, and under the table…) and list here some (some!) of what I’d strictly and loosely call my reference books, broken into ten groupings.

(Each of us Indigo folks has favorite nonreference books, of course—but making that list could take us till Valentine’s Day 2014. Let’s just say that we love reading in our genres but also outside of them—it’s great to know what’s happening in our specialties and to be inspired by other styles.)

1. The Chicago Manual of Style; The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association; The Associated Press Stylebook; and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (and Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities by John M. Carrera, for good measure)

2. The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn; Garner’s Modern American Usage by Bryan A. Garner; and The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tips for Successful Writing from Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty

3. The Elements of Style (Illustrated) by William Strunk, E. B. White, and Maira Kalman; Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style by Arthur Plotnik; Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog by Kitty Burns Florey; and Miss Thistlebottom’s Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer’s Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears and Outmoded Rules of English Usage by Theodore M. Bernstein

4. The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner; The Artful Edit by Susan Bell; and Editors on Editing edited (of course!) by Gerald Gross

5. Literary Trivia: Over 300 Curious Lists for Bookworms by Aubrey Malone; The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten by Jeffrey Kacirk; and They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases by Howard Rheingold

6. Rebel Yell: A Short Guide to Fiction Writing by Lance Olsen; Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius within You by Ray Bradbury; To Writers with Love by Lesley Conger; The Curtain by Milan Kundera; and 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley

7. Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron; Why We Read What We Read: A Delightfully Opinionated Journey Through Bestselling Books by Lisa Adams and John Heath; Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose; How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read (ummm…never!) by Pierre Bayard; Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

8. Rethinking Paper & Ink: The Sustainable Publishing Revolution by Ooligan Press; The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine; and Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer by Stuart Ross

9. My Dear Runemeister: A Voyage through the Alphabet by Lloyd Reynolds and Watching Words Move by Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar

10. Books of baby names (for characters) and poisons (for characters!).

What books are on your shelves and in your heart?

With construction-paper hearts and chalky message candies, I adore (v.t., to venerate expectantly—The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce) you, Bookworm,


Kristin Thiel is Indigo’s senior editor and can be reached at