Hundreds of books on writing are available on the market these days. I try to get my hands on any new writing book that comes out, even though most of them end up being repetitive in one way or the other. I was pleasantly surprised by John D. Bessler's Writing for Life: The Craft of Writing for Everyday Living because, while it touches on the same topics that similar books touch upon, does it with more depth and detail.
Definitely it's a 'heavier' book and a longer read than titles such as Natalie Goldberg's bestseller Writing Down the Bones. Furthermore, because of Bessler's more formal writing style, it is a harder book to read and one that would be better appreciated by nonfiction writers, especially by legal writers.
Writing for Life isn't a grammar book, though it stresses its importance and recommends titles on the subject. Using lots of interesting quotes from some of the great writers and offering helpful tips, the author meticulously discusses a long list of topics such as the importance of daily practice, perseverance, discipline, style, editing, polishing and revising, storytelling, and freewriting. He also writes about procrastination and writer's block — what it is and how to cure it.
As I said, these are the same topics that pop out in any writing book, but the difference here is that Bessler goes much deeper and examines the issues in more detail. He's an attorney and it shows in the writing. I particularly enjoyed his insight into the elusive concept of 'style.'
Writing for Life is a smart, insightful and sophisticated book. It is also well researched and would serve as a fine addition to any writer's reference bookshelf.