Skip to main content

6 Books I Wish I Could Read for the First Time Again

Editor Michael Woodson discusses the books that he wishes he could read for the first time over and over again, and the impact they had on his writing.

You know that feeling when a book is so good you hesitate to finish it? And then when you do finish, you want to start it all over again, but as if it’s the first time?

(3 Things I Learned About Writing From Reading L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón)

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. I came to writing from my love of reading. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and so many books inform, inspire, and invigorate my writing. And I think we all have that list of books that impacted us so profoundly, we wish for a way to replicate the feeling of having read it for the first time over and over again.

Below is a list of books I wish I could read for the first time again, and how they helped my writing.

6 Books I Wish I Could Read for the First Time Again

1. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

6 Books I Wish I Could Read for the First Time Again

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

A brief and beautiful story about friendship, Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn is told in few words, but the emotional impact is immense. This was my first Jacqueline Woodson book and it catapulted me into a deep-dive of her work. The moment I finished, I knew this was going to be a book that I carried with me everywhere for whenever I needed a burst of inspiration.

What it taught me: Stories about friendship aren’t just for kids, and looking back on formative relationships can make for emotionally rich storytelling for adults.

2. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

6 Books I Wish I Could Read for the First Time Again

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

An epic and ambitious story of one couple throughout the entire course of their lives, both together and individually, is what I consider to have had the greatest impact on my writing. Lauren Groff's prose in Fates and Furies are so beautiful and poetic, nothing prepared me for it. Every day I wish I could read this for the first time again.

What it taught me: To think of my writing as the layers of an onion, and to keep peeling to find the words that most inspire me.

3. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

6 Books I Wish I Could Read for the First Time Again

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

James Baldwin is one of the greatest literary figures throughout all of history, and Giovanni's Room is more than simply a novel that was ahead of its time. It's a subtle, sumptuous, and beautiful story about a love that cannot be. Baldwin's triumph is in his confidence and honesty, and I found myself in no hurry to get to the final page.

What it taught me: To not be afraid to write what feels important to me, even if it’s unpopular.

4. Front Desk by Kelly Yang

9781338157826

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

One of the best middle grade books of the last decade, Front Desk by Kelly Yang is a story about a family looking for a place to call home when the odds are stacked against them. Yang balances the trials and tribulations of being a child and the immigrant experience with a mix of humor, sincerity, and ultimately hopefulness. Thankfully Front Desk is the first in a series of books, so in one way, I am able to keep reading these characters for the first time again and again!

What it taught me: That there’s always something to learn from a child’s perspective.

5. Less by Andrew Sean Greer

6 Books I Wish I Could Read for the First Time Again

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

The Pulitzer prize-winning novel that you just want to hug. Less is nothing less (see what I did there?) than hilarious, humble, and honest. Arthur Less is a character you can't help but root for, a romance you wish for, and a narrative reveal that is surprising and satisfying, and will leave you flipping back to page one the moment it's over.

What it taught me: That you can be profound without sacrificing humor.

6. The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling

91Wd5l4kElL copy

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

The slow-burn story of a mother in the midst of a breakdown, Lydia Kiesling's debut novel is my favorite debut novel ever. With sentences that stretch as long as the days themselves, every moment captured in the novel's 10-day time-frame evokes all the senses, fully immersing you in the world of the fictional Altavista, California.

What it taught me: That what is mundane isn’t boring, and details can add dimension, emotion, and truth.

Read Like a Writer: Learn from the Masters

This course will demonstrate that the best way to become a good writer is to study the writing of others, especially the work of the masters. Because there are no hard-and-fast rules to writing, it’s important to study what other writers have done and how they consciously make narrative decisions and meticulously select details based on audience and purpose.

Click to continue.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

Award-winning novelist David Adams Cleveland discusses the timeliness of his new novel, Gods of Deception.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character lose their powers.

Sharon Short | Point of View Quote 1

Managing Point of View: Mythbusting

In the first of this three-part series, novelist and WD columnist Sharon Short breaks down 7 of the most common myths about choosing which POV is right for your story.

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

As self-publishing continues to become an attractive and popular options for writers, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to have the right expectations. Here, author and entrepreneur Tom Vaughan shares how to channel your inner “authorpreneur” to help your book find its readers.