#topjournobooks: The list so far…

1 December 2009

Written by: Tom Cowie

Stephen Romei ­– editor of the Australian Literary Review – believes all journalists should read On Writing Well, William Zinsser’s classic guide to writing nonfiction.

As part of upstart’s #topjournobooks series, Romei stresses that the mantra of ‘simplicity’ should be the key lesson taken from On Writing Well.

“[Zinsser’s] four principles of writing are hard to beat: clarity; simplicity; brevity; and humanity.”

Sally Heath ­– editor of A2, The Age’s culture and life liftout – thinks journalism students should read true crime books such as In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper.

Film and music journalist Lynden Barber adds Scoop by Evelyn Waugh to the list, while sportswriter Ashley Browne nominates You Gotta Play Hurt by Dan Jenkins.

Kathy Bail, formerly of The Bulletin and AFR Magazine, thinks we should read James Thurber’s The Years With Ross “for a sense of magazine journalism in an era of typewriters, smoking and drinking.”

Thanks Kathy, but isn’t magazine journalism still the same now?

Minus the typewriters, of course.

Amongst other books, Mike Dobbie, from the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, reckons Waterhouse on Newspaper Style by Keith Waterhouse and Dispatches by Michael Herr are must-reads.

The esteemed editors of upstart also shared what they think every journalist should read. Head honcho Lawrie Zion is a fan of Nobody’s Perfect, Anthony Lane’s collection of New Yorker articles, of which he promised a review very soon.

Christopher Scanlon feels that Joan Didion’s The White Album has to be added to the list, while Tom Cowie identified journo-detective classic All The President’s Men as a favourite.

In upstart’s search for the books every journalist should read, here is what our readers and contributors have listed so far:

A Crooked Sixpence by Murray Sayle

A Writer’s Coach by Jack Hart

All The President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Cameron in the Guardian by James Cameron

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Death Sentences by Don Watson

Dispatches by Michael Herr

Down to the Crossroads: On the trail of the 2008 US election by Guy Rundle

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Fit To Print by Joris Luyendijk

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Letter from America by Alistair Cooke

Macquarie Dictionary

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Nobody’s Perfect by Anthony Lane

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Rebel Journalism by William Burchett

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn

The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad

The Content Makers by Margaret Simons

The Cricket War by Gideon Haigh

The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

The First Casualty by Phillip Knightley

The Great War For Civilisation by Robert Fisk

The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry

The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper

The White Album by Joan Didion

The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher Koch

The Years With Ross by James Thurber

This Restless Life by Brigid Delaney

Waterhouse on Newspaper Style by Keith Waterhouse

Vietnam: A Reporter’s War by Hugh

You Gotta Play Hurt by Dan Jenkins

What do you think? Has anything been left off the #topjournobooks list? What book should every journalist read?

Let us know via the comments section below, on twitter or by emailing us.

Better yet, you could email us at contact@upstart.net.au with a pitch for a review of your #topjournobooks.

Feel free to check out and comment on the reviews already posted for the #topjournobooks list.