More Reading Fodder

At long last, I’ve updated my “recommended readings” list for those who want to learn more about writing through reading. The occasion was grand—a conversation with scholars at the University of British Columbia about lively academic writing—and I’m pleased to share the list. As always, my choices are arbitrary and capricious, just a smattering of good reads for those who enjoy nonfiction. I haven’t, however, taken the time to write any descriptions, so I fear you’ll have to read them and find out!

Bonus: A few handy references for the writerly minded out there! For the book list, skip down a few lines.

Reference Books to Keep Close at Hand:

  • Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
  • Choose the Right Word, S. I. Hayakawa
  • Writing for Social Scientists, Howard S. Becker
  • On Revision, William Germano
  • Stylish Academic Writing, Helen Sword

Books for Readers and Writers:

  • At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Bill Bryson
  • Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media, Susan J. Douglas
  • The Library Book, Susan Orlean
  • The Monk of Mokha, Dave Eggers
  • Angels and Ages: Lincoln, Darwin, and the Birth of the Modern Age, Adam Gopnik
  • Thunderstruck, Erik Larson
  • The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown
  • Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter
  • The City of Falling Angels, John Berendt
  • How to Be Danish: A Journey to the Heart of Denmark, Patrick Kingsley
  • Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Greatest Migration, Isabelle Wilkerson
  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, Patrick Radden Keefe
  • Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed To Be, Marissa R. Moss
  • The Secret Lives of Color, Kassia St. Clair
  • The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—And How It Changes Science, Cities, and the Modern World, Steven Johnson
  • A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, Michael Pollan
  • Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life, Lulu Miller
  • Humankind: A Hopeful History, Rutger Bregman
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, David Grann
  • Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire, Colleen Morton Busch
  • Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line, Martha A. Sandweiss
  • Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble, Stefan Fatsis
  • Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans, Dan Baum
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, Gilbert King
  • Wait Till Next Year, Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • The Astronaut Wives Club, Lily Koppel
  • Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, Margot Lee Shetterly
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
  • Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him, David Henry and Joe Henry


About Letta Page

I am a disarmingly earnest editor, translator of academia, nonfiction revisionary, and domesticated roustabout. More professionally, I might say: I am the senior managing editor of Contexts, founding associate editor and producer of The Society Pages, and a sociology editor, jargon-slayer, and “book doula” for hire. My specialty is in helping authors identify and hone their arguments in ways their target audiences can both understand and use. In this way, I’m a translator, consultant, writing coach, and editor all in one. The senior managing editor of Contexts magazine (the public outreach journal of the American Sociological Association), I have more than two decades’ experience in academic editing across a range of disciplines. I’ve edited and written copy for publications from Oxford University Press, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, W.W. Norton, the University of Chicago Press, Cambridge University Press, Stanford University Press, and many others, including dozens of journals. Today, I specialize in sociology and, as a sort of fun “palate cleanser” (trust me, when you’re editing books on neoliberalism and genocide, it’s always good to have a fallback), I write copy for organizations like Stand Up! Records. I also have a background in the visual arts and was a founder of First Amendment Arts (now Co-Exhibitions) in Minneapolis, MN. I hold degrees in history and classical studies from Boston University and an art degree from the University of Minnesota, and I enjoy most of the things you can imagine Rose from The Golden Girls counts among her hobbies. I received the University of Minnesota’s Public Sociology Award, for outstanding contributions to the discipline and public conversation, in 2019. My truly lovely husband, Josh Page, is a professor of sociology and law at the University of Minnesota, as well as a food writer and founder of Meal magazine. He’s a great writer, and I’m so happy to work alongside him in print and in life.