Book Review

Book Review: Good Naked, Reflections on Writing

A book review on a Monday?

Normally I do a book review, if I do one at all, on a Wednesday. But this one couldn’t wait. Because even two days without Joni B. Cole’s Good Naked on your shelf is too long.

I generally borrow a book from the library and sample it before making the leap to purchase. A book has to be compelling and enduring to make it onto the seat of glory which is my writer’s bookshelf. You know, it has to have a long shelf life.

Members of this elite group have to be useful resources without being egotistical. Okay, Stein on Writing is egotistical, but he’s entitled. And it’s nothing personal.

The Elements of Style is more like a dictionary. You can be fond of it, and I am. Still, it’s hardly something you turn to when you are looking for consolation.

But last time I visited the library, I accidentally ended up in the non-fiction section of new books. And I was lured into sampling Cole’s delightful guide to writers.

I’m a sucker for a serious writer who laces her work with a puckish sense of humor.

And Cole does.

Good Naked is a coherent account of the challenges and joys of writing. But it’s also a series of freestanding essays. Each one addresses a single writer issue with a kind of brisk compassion you hope for in a good therapist. Cole discusses handling destructive criticism, the mythical literary advantages of being a tortured soul and writer’s block in a way only someone who has dealt with these issues can.

Each essay is like the conversation you wish you could have over a cup of tea and a plate of scones on the back porch of your friend’s home overlooking the river. Boats laze in the sun. A bee bumbles through the overgrown rose bushes. And you are laughing because what your friend is saying is so funny but also so true.

I’m buying Good Naked. Because when I am stuck, it’s good to be reminded I’m not the only person who has ever fought this particular battle before. And to remember that the sorts of battles writers fight with their spiky pens, laser sharp pencils and laptop shields are winnable.

Good Naked belongs on every writer’s bookshelf.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.