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19 of the Best Books of 2021

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A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk. Whether you read memoirs or young-adult (YA) novels, 2021 was a fantastic year for book lovers. While we can’t squeeze in all of our favorites from 2021, we’ve rounded up a stellar sampling of must-reads. Here’s some of the year’s best books. 

“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner

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In her profound memoir Crying in H Mart , Michelle Zauner shares an unflinching view of growing up as a Korean American person — all while reflecting on losing her mother to terminal cancer. Author Dani Shapiro notes that the Japanese Breakfast musician “has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief.”

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.

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In Robert Jones, Jr.’s lyrical debut novel, The Prophets , Isaiah and Samuel are two enslaved young men who find refuge in each other — and their love becomes both sustaining and heroic in the face of a vicious world. Entertainment Weekly writes that “While The Prophets’ dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison… Its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” Now that’s a compliment.

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

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At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman read her electrifying poem, “ The Hill We Climb .” Since then, it has been praised for its call for unity and healing. Vogue captures the feeling of reading the poem well, calling it “deeply rousing and uplifting.” 

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney

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New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney has returned with a sharp, romantic drama, Beautiful World, Where Are You . Two separate relationships are in chaos, threatening to ruin friendships. Vogue  declares that the author has “invented a sensibility entirely of her own: Sunny and sharp.” 

“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford

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Ashley C. Ford’s coming-of-age memoir, Somebody’s Daughter , centers on her childhood. Ford, a Black girl who grew up poor in Indiana, recounts how her family was fragmented by her father’s incarceration. With rich, unflinching writing, Ford has penned a debut for the ages. The memoir’s publisher perhaps puts the core of the book best, noting that Ford “embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.” 

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo

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Everyone remembers their first all-consuming love — and for Lily Hu, the teenage protagonist of Malinda Lo’s queer YA novel, that love is Kathleen Miller. Set in the 1950s in San Francisco,  Last Night at the Telegraph Club  is not just one of the year’s best, but one of Lo’s best. O: The Oprah Magazine notes that the novel is “proof of Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.”

“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer

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In his memoir, ¡H ola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons , advice columnist John Paul Brammer delves into his experiences growing up as a queer, biracial person. The  Los Angeles Times  writes that “Brammer’s writing is incredibly funny, kind, and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you” — and we couldn’t agree more. 

“Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers

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In Morgan Rogers’ novel Honey Girl , Grace Porter is an overachiever — and certainly not the type of person to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. Or, at least, she didn’t think she was that type of person. As Grace navigates the messiness of adulthood, Rogers takes us on a journey that’s both heartfelt and unflinching, illustrating that love is all about risks — even when it comes to loving ourselves. 

“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu

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Nadia Owusu’s memoir, Aftershocks , reflects on her experience of being abandoned by her parents at a young age. Entertainment Weekly notes that “Owusu dispatches all of this heartache with blistering honesty but does so with prose light enough that it never feels too much to bear.”

“Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

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What if an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant had feelings? In Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel,  Klara and the Sun , Klara is an Artificial Friend who wonders if friendship is possible. The Financial Times called the Never Let Me Go author’s latest “a deft dystopian fable about the innocence of a robot that asks big questions about existence.”

“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell

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Brontez Purnell’s romantic, intoxicating book, 100 Boyfriends , is a look at the romantic lives of queer men who are striving to find out not just where they belong, but where they can shine. Author Bryan Washington praised the collection, writing that “Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous.”

“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

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In Casey McQuiston’s big-hearted romance novel, One Last Stop , August meets Jane on a New York City subway — but she doesn’t realize just how fateful their chance encounter is at first. New York Magazine called the novel “an earnest reminder that home — whether that means a time, a place, or a person — is worth fighting for,” and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the  Red, White & Royal Blue author. 

“Afterparties: Stories” by Anthony Veasna So

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In Afterparties , Anthony Veasna So weaves together tenderhearted stories about the lives of several Cambodian American characters. Although the stories vary quite a bit in terms of content, author George Saunders writes that they are all “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail,” and are much like “…beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Malibu Rising , readers meet four famous siblings as they throw their annual end-of-summer party in Malibu. However, over the course of 24 hours, family drama ensues. The Washington Post calls this read “a fast-paced, engaging novel that smoothly transports readers.”

“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion

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Between 1968 and 2000, award-winning journalist and essayist Joan Didion wrote 12 pieces about a variety of well-known figures, ranging from Ernest Hemingway and Nancy Reagan to Martha Stewart. Now, these works have been gathered in the essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean . Bret Easton Ellis writes that Didion’s “prose remains peerless,” so, if you’re a fan of the iconic writer, this is a must-read. 

“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura

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Intimacies is Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, following 2017’s critically acclaimed A Separation . In it, an interpreter for the International Court at the Hague gets drawn into a political scandal after agreeing to translate for a former world leader and potential criminal. The novel is a fascinating investigation into the instability of language and how it influences identity. Dana Spiotta describes Intimacies as “a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.”

“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters

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In Detransition, Baby , Torrey Peters tells a witty and nuanced story about partnership, parenthood and identity. About the novel, Ginny Hogan from the New York Times states “[Detransition, Baby upends] our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like.”

“Second Place” by Rachel Cusk

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In Rachel Cusk’s novel Second Place , a follow up to her brilliant Outline trilogy, a woman invites an artist she admires to live in her remote guesthouse for the summer. As the stay unfolds, a series of unexpected events spurs revelations about womanhood, marriage and security. About Second Place , Jenny Singer from Glamour writes “there is mayhem; surprising sweetness and brilliant observations tumble from every page.”

“Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore ” by Dan Ozzi

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In Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore , rock critic Dan Ozzi traces the stories of eleven separate bands that transitioned from the indie scene to achieve mainstream success in the ‘90s. Including interviews and anecdotes from bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, this is a must-read for any music lover.

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Click to jump to the 54 best journalism writing books of 2021:

The best journalism books, the best investigative journalism books, the best social media and digital journalism books, the best visual journalism and photography books, the best broadcast journalism books, the best writing books, the best grammar books, the 54 best books to read if you want to be a journalist, according to journalism professors.

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Real talk — I'm a soon-to-be journalism graduate and a major bookie, so I'm always on the hunt for books that will offer new perspectives about the emerging profession of news, digital journalism, and reporting. Naturally, I put my reporting skills to work and reached out to 55 journalism professors — from schools like UPenn, Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, and many more — to put together a master list of beloved recommendations from esteemed professionals. 

Whether you're entering a newsroom as an entry-level journalist, seeking to improve your writing skills, or interested in learning more about the digital media landscape, you'll certainly benefit from flipping through the pages of one (or more) of our picks below.

Read on to discover the best journalism and writing books, the professors who recommended them, and why they integrate them within their courses. 

news report books

1. "The Journalist and the Murderer" by Janet Malcolm

An eye-catching title to say the least, "The Journalist and the Murderer" is a deep dive into the psychopathology between the journalist and his subject. David Graham , an adjunct instructor at Duke University currently teaching magazine journalism, has used this book in every class.

Other professors who also recommended the book:

2. "The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect" by Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel

According to Marina Hendricks , an assistant professor at South Dakota State University, "The Elements of Journalism" is a go-to resource for journalists. It covers nine essential elements that comprise the heart of strong reporting.

"My well-worn copy is marked with sticky notes, underlining, and penciled-in notes," she added.

3. "Inside Reporting" by Tim Harrower

"Inside Reporting" is a unique text because it highlights the basics of reporting while detailing how to package stories in interactive, visual ways.

"The information on each skill is presented in an accessible way," said Ellen Meacham , who teaches multimedia writing at the University of Mississippi. "Each skill builds upon the last, and the fundamentals he provides about writing and reporting are solid."

4. "The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Digital Age" by Gene Foreman

I read "The Ethical Journalist" in my media ethics course and it was a helpful resource, thanks to its 24 real-life case studies that encouraged me to think critically about some of the media's most pressing issues.

"It offers high-value expertise and is clearly written," said Emile Lounsberry , my former associate professor at The College of New Jersey. It's also one of her top three journalism books she's ever read.

5. "The New New Journalism: Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft" by Robert S. Boynton

After reading the blurb of "The New New Journalism," I immediately purchased it. It highlights sound methods for writing and career advice for journalists of all ages. Peter Applebome , an adjunct instructor of journalism and public policy at Duke University, said it's an essential book in all of his courses.

6. "Writing to Deadline: The Journalist at Work" by Donald Murray

"Writing to Deadline" cover tips for outlining your draft, focusing your story, and fine-tuning your writing. You'll also learn from case studies of real journalists in the field.

"It provides excellent advice for young journalists," said Dan Kennedy , a journalism professor at Northeastern University. He uses the book to facilitate discussions in his Journalism II course.

7. "The View From Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity" by Lewis Raven Wallace

"The View From Somewhere" offers a detailed explanation of how the myth of objectivity has been used to marginalize writers. It's a book about how some of the best writers chased after truth and transparency but were punished because they were accused of having bias.

Steven William Thrasher , assistant professor of journalism at Northwestern University focusing on social theory, said he loves the book and would highly recommend it.

8. "News Writing and Reporting: The Complete Guide for Today's Journalist" by Chip Scanlan and Richard Craig

Built on the three pillars of journalism —process, coaching, and storytelling — "News Writing and Reporting" provides tips for print and digital copywriters with "quick tip" advice sections and strategies for solving ethical dilemmas.

Julien Gorbach , an assistant professor teaching intermediate news writing at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, uses this text to relay "in-depth, thoughtful guidance" to his students.

9. "Show Me the Money: Writing Business and Economics Stories for Mass Communication" by Chris Roush

If you're looking for a book that draws on personal business journalism experience, you can't go wrong with "Show Me the Money." It teaches journalists how to report on specific industries, find sources, and look through documents, from SEC filings to invoices.

"What I love about Roush's style of writing and his approach to business reporting is he emphasizes that corporations are not faceless entities, but are made up of people making decisions," said Kelly Furnas , a journalism lecturer at Elon University. "It illustrates how finances work for students who aren't finance majors."

10. "The Best American Magazine Writing" by Sid Holt

If you're interested in the editorial industry at large, "The Best American Magazine Writing" is a great glimpse into the inner workings of journalism. It provides excerpts from publications like the Washington Post, New York Magazine, and the New Yorker, among others.

"It showcases outstanding, globe-spanning journalism as judged by the American Society of Magazine Editors ," said Melissa Chessher , the chair of Syracuse University's magazine, news, and digital journalism department and professor of magazine writing. 

11. "The Fact-Checker's Bible: A Guide to Getting It Right" by Sarah Harrison Smith

Whether you're a new writer or a budding journalist, you need "The Fact-Checker's Bible." It's jam-packed with explanations on how to read for accuracy and determine what to check, including quotations, legal liabilities, and plagiarism.

Julia Bloch , the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, recommends this essential tool for the pressing task of fact-checking in a culture overwhelmed by information from different media outlets and sources.

news report books

1. "The Investigative Reporter's Handbook: A Guide to Documents, Databases, and Techniques" by Brant Houston

A great resource for both journalism students and seasoned professionals, "The Investigative Reporter's Handbook" explains how to gather sources, track information, and pursue deep dives across a variety of beats. I used this book in my data journalism course and the amount of detail it provides is unparalleled.

Alex Richards , an assistant professor at Syracuse University who teaches reporting, advanced reporting, and social justice data journalism courses, said "it helps students understand what types of documents and data exist within government agencies at all levels, as well as stories that have come from them."

2. "The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records" by David L. Cuillier & Charles N. Davis

According to Richards, "'The Art of Access' helps students understand how to send open records requests efficiently and push back against bureaucrats who would stop a request from being fulfilled."

3. "Investigative Reporting: Proven Strategies for Reporting the Story" by William C. Gaines

As used in my investigative journalism course, this text serves as a resourceful primer for learning how to access documents, interview sources, and create a comprehensive report. It also takes you into the mind of a field reporter forming an investigative story, so you can understand the process from beginning to end.

Emilie Lounsberry , my former associate professor at the College of New Jersey, recommends this book to learn how to come up with story ideas and execute them for publication.

4. "Data for Journalists: A Practical Guide for Computer-Assisted Reporting" by Brant Houston

As one of the clearest, step-by-step manuals in this roundup, "Data for Journalists" is a text every journalist should have on hand for the research process. I used this book in my data journalism course at the College of New Jersey. Donna Shaw , who led the course, said it's engaging and authoritative.

5. "Numbers in the Newsroom: Using Math and Statistics in News" by Sarah Cohen

This book comes recommended by Joe Weber , an associate journalism professor who teaches graduate writing, financial communications, and entrepreneurial journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. According to Weber, "Numbers in the Newsroom" is great at "covering basic mathematical concepts you will need to develop, report, and write news stories."

6. "The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism" by Dean Starkman

In this modern take on investigative journalism, Starkman highlights the role business news has on enterprise-style reporting — an impact leading to a widespread silence on financial crises nationwide.

James Hamilton , a professor at Stanford University, told Insider it's one of his favorite journalism books.

7. "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face: Covering Miami, America's Hottest Beat" by Edna Buchanan

Edna Buchanan, who covered life and death on Miami streets at "The Miami Herald" for 18 years, explains her experience, struggles, and successes in this book. Jonathan Neal Glass , who teaches digital news and innovation and digital news leadership at Syracuse University, said it's the first book that inspired him to pursue journalism.

news report books

1. "The Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Digital Age" by Paul Bradshaw

For instructions on how to become a successful digital journalist, "The Online Journalism Handbook'' is your toolkit. It provides theories, applications, and tricks for this transformative industry.

Michelle Johnson , an associate professor teaching Introduction to Journalism at Boston University, uses this text to educate her students on the historical perspective of online news development.

2. "Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter Age" by Dhiraj Murthy

From processing national elections to natural disasters, Twitter has become a newfound news outlet. Dhiraj Murthy , associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, uses his book about Twitter in his courses.

"It investigates a lot of aspects of the platform covering everything from citizen journalism to Twitter use in disasters reporting , as well as political-related events," said Murthy.

3. "The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas" by Melanie Deziel

Self-described as "an adaptable and evergreen guide you'll come back to again and again," "The Content Fuel Framework" provides a comprehensive foundation for delivering unique content for the web — including on your social feeds. 

Adam Peruta , an associate professor who teaches digital media electives at Syracuse University, loves this book and recommends it to anyone interested in becoming a content creator.

4. "Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest" by Zeynep Tufekci

"Twitter and Tear Gas" is a firsthand account and analysis of modern protests and their impact on the media. At its core, it explains how social media revolutionized social movements.

"It's an exemplary case study of the possibilities and perils of social media for democratic reform," said Professor Richard R. John , who teaches doctoral candidates at Columbia Journalism School.

5. "The Digital Reporter's Notebook" by Mark Blaine

Julien Gorbach , who teaches an entry-level course on multimedia journalism at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, uses this text because it's a "barebones, straight-to-the-point field guide that covers the core essentials of storytelling through photojournalism, audio, and video." 

Later chapters elaborate on building a beat, using records in reporting, and data journalism, he added.

6. "Mobile and Social Media Journalism: A Practical Guide" by Anthony Adornato

To best understand audience engagement, social media, and online content distribution, look no further than "Mobile and Social Media Journalism." It's one of the most modern books available.

"It provides lots of useful information about producing journalism in our mobile and social environment," said Brian Ekdale , an associate professor at the University of Iowa who teaches introduction to multimedia storytelling and audio and video production. "It raises the major issues facing contemporary journalists and provides useful strategies for navigating this brave new world."

news report books

1. "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art" by Scott McCloud

Journalism isn't limited to just words — comics are vital for visual storytelling, too. According to Professor Robert Berry , who teaches comics courses at the University of Pennsylvania's Creative Writing Program, "Understanding Comics" is the "perfect primer for seeing how the medium works" and that "no one reads it without having a deeper appreciation for the art."

2. "Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Making Comics, Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond" by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden

Barry also recommends "Drawing Words and Writing Pictures," as it's "thorough on materials, techniques, and practices in comics that students can use to build their skills way beyond the classroom." It's also centered on storytelling and explains how the finished comic is produced.

3. "Visual Communication: Understanding Images in Media Culture" by Giorgia Aiello & Katy Parry

Most forms of journalism use photos or illustrations to supplement written copy, and "Visual Communication" provides an excellent breakdown of how to effectively use imagery in storytelling. 

"The authors do a nice job of presenting theory and method understandably, presenting two case studies with each chapter to help show it in action," said Kyser Lough , an assistant professor at the University of Georgia who teaches Media Images (a visual communications research class) and Intro to Photojournalism. 

"My students like the case studies because they're real-world examples, and the book even covers advertising, TV, and film images," he added.

4. "Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials" by Gillian Rose

"This is the gold standard in understanding the methods of visual research, " Lough said. He uses this text to encourage students to brainstorm research topics and execute them according to theory.

5. "On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide" by David Hurn & Bill Jay

Though photography requires a lot of direct experience in the field, "On Being a Photographer'' provides some great tips for students to supplement their practice. As Kyser Lough said: "It's full of the good stuff."

6. "The Great Picture Hunt 2: The Art and Ethics of Feature Picture Hunting" by Dave LaBelle

As one of Lough's favorite journalism books, "The Great Picture Hunt 2" is fit for an advanced photojournalism course.

"It gets into the process and ethics of making good, impactful feature photographs," he said. "Far too often, we shrug off feature photos as fluffy, feel-good space-fillers when, in reality, they can be some of the most important and meaningful glimpses into the nature of our humanity — and it shows how to move toward making these kinds of images."

news report books

1. "Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio" by Jessica Abel

For a behind-the-scenes take of popular radio shows like "This American Life," "RadioLab," and "Planet Money," "Out on the Wire" reveals juicy details for producing a successful audio show through comic panels. 

"It's a fantastic, illustrated guide to long-form podcasting," said Julien Gorbach , an assistant professor teaching a variety of entry-level and advanced journalism and multimedia courses at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

2. "Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound" by John Biewen & Alexa Dilworth

Highlighting radio as a creative expression of journalism, "Reality Radio" touches on several producers and programs to best explain influential audio work. It comprises 19 essays that explain noteworthy contributions in the field through stories and transcripts.

Anne Donohue , an associate professor at Boston University who teaches podcasting, narrative radio, global health storytelling, and newsroom courses, said it's an excellent guide to audio journalism.

3. "Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production" by Jonathan Kern

NPR produces some of the most comprehensive and engaging radio shows and podcasts out there, and its "Sound Reporting" guide is an inside look into its craft. 

"It's a great overview of audio storytelling with lots of examples from NPR," said Brian Ekdale , an associate professor at the University of Iowa who teaches introduction to multimedia storytelling and audio and video production. "This book pre-dates the boom in podcasting, but the principles of audio reporting and story construction remain the same." For instance, you'll learn how to record smooth sound and relate to your audience through audio.

4. "Aim for the Heart: Write, Shoot, and Produce for TV and Multimedia" by Al Tompkins

To learn how to write clear, strong broadcast stories, "Aim for the Heart'' should be the next book on your reading list. It covers who to interview and how to choose the best soundbites, as well as best practices for writing engaging, concise TV copy.

"Tomkins stresses the importance of emotion in writing, sound bite choice, and video gathering," said Ben Bogardus , an assistant professor at Quinnipiac University who teaches storytelling, broadcast news writing, the art of the podcast, and newscast capstone courses. "It's the next step for students to take after they've mastered the basics."

5. "Write Like You Talk: A Guide to Broadcast Newswriting" by Jeff Butera

"Writing is so fundamental in journalism and this text boils it down to plain language," said Harrison Hove , who teaches broadcast writing, in-depth storytelling, and TV news reporting at the University of Florida.

"The text is easy to understand, features an array of examples, offers practice questions, and helps students find their voice," he added.

6. "Broadcast News Handbook: Writing, Reporting, and Producing in the Age of Social Media" by C.A. Tuggle, Forrest Carr & Suzanne Huffman

Backed by 50 years of combined broadcast news expertise, "Broadcast News Handbook" offers discussions and practical advice for becoming a segment writer and on-air anchor.

Harrison Hove also recommends this text for its detailed explanation of the broadcast journalism industry.

7. "Air Words: Writing Broadcast News in the Internet Age" by John Hewitt

I used this text in my broadcast journalism course and it provided a great background to drafting scripts and understanding how news packages are developed. Moreover, Melissa McClinton , assistant professor of video production and immersive media at the University of Nevada-Reno, said it's one of her top three journalism books.

news report books

1. " On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction" by William Zinsser

Zinsser's highly praised book is an advice-packed hub for anyone interested in writing, well, just about anything.

"This is the writing text students respond to with the most enthusiasm and from which they tell me they learn the most," said Associate Professor Mark Leccese , who uses the book for his feature writing course at Emerson College in Boston.

2. " The Associated Press Stylebook"  

As a journalism student, I can attest the "AP Stylebook" is the writer's bible. You'll find best practices for everything from using affect versus effect (a struggle for many) to referencing sensitive topics like mental health and war outbreaks.

"It provides order in a chaotic world,"  said Aileen Gallagher , an associate professor at Syracuse University who teaches reporting and cross-media news writing. "If you don't have the luxury of an editor, it's at least a reliable resource. In class, it's a reference book that's also a discussion starter to understand the reasoning behind language and style changes."

Additionally, Greg Munno at Syracuse University recommended the "Briefing on Media Law" version, too.

3. " The Elements of Style" by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

"The Elements of Style" provides a crash course on writing skills, particularly how to use clear language to engage the reader.

"Strunk and White, of course, is the last word on writing English prose," said Christopher B. Daly , who teaches news reporting and the history of journalism at Boston University. "It's all in there — after that, it's all execution."

4. " Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer" by Roy Peter Clark

"Writing Tools" covers 55 tips — from mixing narrative modes to names to varying paragraph length — in an all-in-one toolbox every writer needs in their arsenal. In fact, I ended up purchasing it after many professors recommended the resource.

"If you go straight from Strunk and White's 'The Elements of Style' to this one, you will omit needless lessons," said Mark Stencel , an adjunct instructor at Duke University who teaches news writing and reporting, fact-checking, and watchdog reporting in American politics.

5. "Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University" by Mark Kramer

"Telling True Stories" is a recollection of anecdotes from distinguished writers who gather each year at Harvard's Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism.

"There are so many short pieces by amazing journalists and writers in this book, telling us why their work is important and how they do it," said Ellen Meacham , who teaches introduction to multimedia writing at the University of Mississippi. It helps her students curate headlines, inverted-pyramid-style stories, and simple broadcast stories for radio and television.

6. "Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction" by Jack Hart

For everything story structure, point of view, and revising for publication, "Storycraft" is truly a comprehensive guide on the craft.

Brett Oppegaard , an associate professor and journalism undergraduate chair at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said it's his favorite book on writing, by far. "I collected bits of wisdom about writing for decades and, when I first found this book, I just picked up that file of mine and tossed it in the garbage because Hart covered everything important that I had gathered — plus so much more," he said.

7. " A Writer's Coach: An Editor's Guide to Words that Work" by Jack Hart

"A Writer's Coach" is a dictionary with a twist. Inside, you'll find tips on how to polish your writing and the advice author Jack Hart used to coach Pulitzer Prize-winning writers.

According to Adrianne Flynn , a senior lecturer at the University of Maryland, "The two Hart books [the other: " Storycraft "] are the best I've seen at teaching, with simple language, great examples, and how to report, organize and write everything from simple to complex news or feature stories." The book is a resource to her students for writing about government, breaking news, and education, among other beats. 

8. "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King

Stephen King, known for his hefty page-turners, dishes out the tricks of the trade in his first-part memoir, second-part master class: "On Writing"

"The second half of 'On Writing' is a marvelous primer of journalism," said Eric Grode , an assistant professor of magazine, news, and digital journalism and director of Syracuse University's Goldring Arts Journalism. Grode considers this one of the top writing books of all time.

9. "The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking" by Brooke Borel

To improve the editing and revision process, "The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking" is here to help. Julia Bloch , the director of the University of Pennsylvania's Creative Writing Program, recommends this book for students who want to fine-tune their writing across a variety of mediums.

10. "Write Choices: Elements of Nonfiction Storytelling" by Sue Hertz

"Write Choices" is an all-encompassing book that dives into common stylistic choices all writers encounter. You'll find strategies for writing memoirs, literary works, travel essays, and more.

"I use this in an intermediate reporting workshop that's offered in the graduate and undergraduate level," said Meg Heckman , an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University.

news report books

1. "The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English" by Roy Peter Clark

Yes, grammar can be glamorous (at least in the minds of readers). "The Glamour of Grammar" is a contemporary guide on different types of speech, why concrete words and action verbs are preferred, and how to replace stuffy language for an engaging tone. 

"It's an invaluable guide to narrative akin to the Strunk and White classic for prose, 'The Elements of Style,' said Assistant Professor Julien Gorbach , who teaches news literacy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

2. "Words on Words" by John M. Bremner

For a simple take on writing and style, "Words on Words" is filled with practical facts. "The book started my love affair with the English language," said Kelly Furnas , a journalism lecturer at Elon University. "Bremner was probably the most remarkable newsroom editor and grammar educator of all time, and this book taught me to appreciate the quirks and logic of this 'beautiful, bastard language' of ours."

3. "The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition"

For best practices on citing sources and word usage, " The Chicago Manual of Style " is often used by Julia Bloch , the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, along with " The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation ." 

"We read from texts that range from how-to manuals to reflections on the profession itself, so that students can come away with both concrete skills and knowledge of the field of journalism and editing ," she said.

4. The Copyeditor's Handbook and Workbook: The Complete Set"

For a more hands-on style guide, "The Copyeditor's Handbook and Workbook"   is a two-in-one-set that Bloch also recommends, as it comes with both a manual and some do-it-yourself exercises.

Inside, you'll find 21st-century adaptations for preparing text for digital formats, addressing global audiences, and complying with plain language mandates.

5. "Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers" by Scott Norton

If creative nonfiction writing is your new passion project, or you simply want to get better at copyediting, "Developmental Editing" is a must-read. Bloch enjoys this book as it goes in-depth with the perspectives of different authors, editors, and publishers.

6. "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" by Lynne Truss

I read this book in my high school's AP English course and enjoy its playful take on the necessity of punctuation and its use in your particular type of writing. Donna Shaw , an associate professor of journalism and professional writing at The College of New Jersey, said this was one of her favorite writing books, too.

7. "Watch Your Words: A Writing and Editing Handbook for the Multimedia Age" by Marda Dunsky

"Watch Your Words" is great for the classroom and newsroom alike and incorporates tips on mastering the English language amid the digital era.

"It presents grammar, punctuation, usage, and AP style-focused specifically for journalists," said Professor Ellen Meacham , who teaches multimedia writing at the University of Mississippi. "It's a slim volume with no fluff, has practice exercises for students, and is a great way to refresh (or teach) some important skills."

Sign up for Insider Reviews' weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals. You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here . Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected] .

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Book Reviews

Here are the Books We Love: 400+ great 2022 reads recommended by NPR

Here are the Books We Love: 400+ great 2022 reads recommended by NPR

November 22, 2022 • Books We Love returns with 400+ new titles handpicked by NPR staff and trusted critics. Find 10 years of recommendations all in one place – that's more than 3,200 great reads.

'Dr. No' is a delightfully escapist romp and an incisive sendup of espionage fiction

'Dr. No' is a delightfully escapist romp and an incisive sendup of espionage fiction

March 7, 2023 • Pulitzer and Booker Prize finalist Percival Everett just won another prestigious award, the PEN/Jean Stein Award, for his newest book in which he makes a myriad of compelling creative choices.

How Barnes & Noble turned a page, expanding for the first time in years

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How Barnes & Noble turned a page, expanding for the first time in years

March 7, 2023 • After years on the brink, the bookseller is going for a plot twist: Sales are growing and the chain plans to open some 30 new stores. Here's what's changed.

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Police are 'shielded' from repercussions of their abuse. A law professor examines why

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March 6, 2023 • UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz talks about the legal protections — including qualified immunity and no-knock warrants — that have protected officers from the repercussions of abuse.

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Iconic indian-american chef reflects on his life and the healing power of food.

March 1, 2023 • Raghavan Iyer built his career helping Americans get to know the fundamentals of Indian cooking. Now, after years of treatment for aggressive cancer, he has released what he says will be his last book.

Rebecca Makkai's smart, prep school murder novel is self-aware about the 'ick' factor

Rebecca Makkai's smart, prep school murder novel is self-aware about the 'ick' factor

March 1, 2023 • The thickly-plotted mystery, I Have Some Questions for You, is the latest from the author of The Great Believers. It has been compared to Donna Tartt's 1992 blockbuster, The Secret History.

One Uprooted Life At A Time, Climate Change Drives An American Migration

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One Uprooted Life At A Time, Climate Change Drives An American Migration

February 28, 2023 • Margaret Elysia Garcia tried hard to rebuild her life in Greenville, California after it was devastated by a wildfire in 2021.

A flood destroyed all of Sarah's books, but a gift from a librarian changed her life

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My Unsung Hero from Hidden Brain

A flood destroyed all of sarah's books, but a gift from a librarian changed her life.

February 28, 2023 • In 2001, all of Sarah Feldman's books were destroyed in a flood, so her dad took her to a library to try to cheer her up. There she met a man who gave her a gift that she says changed her life.

'Homestead' is a story about starting fresh, and the joys and trials of melding lives

'Homestead' is a story about starting fresh, and the joys and trials of melding lives

February 28, 2023 • Alaska-born author Melinda Moustakis' debut novel Homestead is beautiful; it's also a profound look at how we navigate one another, and what it means to reveal ourselves to the ones we care about.

Cartoonists say a rebuke of 'Dilbert' creator Scott Adams is long overdue

Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert, poses for a portrait with the Dilbert character in his studio in Dublin, Calif., Oct. 26, 2006. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP hide caption

Art & Design

Cartoonists say a rebuke of 'dilbert' creator scott adams is long overdue.

February 28, 2023 • Illustrators say the creator of Dilbert has held problematic views for a long time, from claiming that he lost job opportunities because he is white to questioning the legitimacy of the COVID vaccine.

'I Have Some Questions For You' is a dark, uncomfortable story that feels universal

'I Have Some Questions For You' is a dark, uncomfortable story that feels universal

February 27, 2023 • In less capable hands, all of this would be too much. But Rebecca Makkai manages to juggle every subplot brilliantly; each sings with a unique voice that harmonizes with the crime story at the heart.

Fear, Florida, and The 1619 Project

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February 24, 2023 • How should U.S history be told, and who gets to tell it? Debate over these questions has raged for years – but nowhere is it more pronounced right now than in Florida. This week, Brittany Luse chats with NPR's Giulia Heyward to get the download on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' recent efforts to ban AP African American studies in his state. Then, Brittany sits down with Dorothy Roberts , a legal scholar and sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and Leslie Alexander , a historian at Rutgers University. In line with their work on The 1619 Project – now a Hulu documentary series –they make the case that slavery led to some of our biggest political fissures today, and discuss why it's important for all Americans to understand those connections.

What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend reading and viewing

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What's Making Us Happy: Recommendations From 'Pop Culture Happy Hour'

What's making us happy: a guide to your weekend reading and viewing.

February 24, 2023 • Each week, the guests and hosts on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour share what's bringing them joy. This week: Class of '07, Snowfall and Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat and Tears

Roald Dahl's publisher responds to backlash by keeping 'classic' texts in print

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Roald Dahl's publisher responds to backlash by keeping 'classic' texts in print

February 24, 2023 • "Fat," "ugly" and "horsey face" will remain in Roald Dahl's children's books in the U.K. after all. After a fierce backlash to proposed changes, Dahl's U.K. publisher announced a "classic collection."

'The Great Displacement' looks at communities forever altered by climate change

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February 24, 2023 • Jack Bittle's book takes a look at several communities that have been affected by climate change, and how the lives of their residents — those who have survived — have been altered by extreme weather.

'We Should Not Be Friends' offers a rare view of male friendship

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February 23, 2023 • Literary editor Will Schwalbe's new book is a tale about connecting across divides — which is particularly heartening in our polarized culture.

'Oscar Wars' spotlights bias, blind spots and backstage battles in the Academy

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'Oscar Wars' spotlights bias, blind spots and backstage battles in the Academy

February 22, 2023 • From relentless campaigning to snubs and speeches, the Academy Awards have often reflected a cultural conflict zone. Michael Schulman sifts through the controversies in a new book.

Ross Gay on inciting joy while dining with sorrow

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February 21, 2023 • Looking for joy? Then it might be worth exploring your sorrow, complications and mess. In his latest collection of essays, Inciting Joy , poet Ross Gay reconsiders the breadth of joy, arguing that it can be found – and even strengthened – in life's hardest moments, when we must rely on one another. This week, host Brittany Luse sits down with Gay to discuss the complexity of joy, the beauty of grace and creating meaning in life.

5 new mysteries and thrillers to help get you through winter

5 new mysteries and thrillers to help get you through winter

February 21, 2023 • The long days of January and February usually herald some great reads featuring crime, suspense and — everyone's favorite — murder.

Changes to new editions of Roald Dahl books have readers up in arms

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Changes to new editions of Roald Dahl books have readers up in arms

February 21, 2023 • Books by Roald Dahl are being edited to remove words that could be deemed offensive. Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda , James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is embracing his anger. A new book details what he's angry about

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Sen. Bernie Sanders is embracing his anger. A new book details what he's angry about

February 21, 2023 • NPR's Steve Inskeep speaks with Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont about his latest book: It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism .

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2022 Books We Love: Nonfiction

Pop Culture Happy Hour

2022 books we love: nonfiction.

February 21, 2023 • NPR's Books We Love is full of stories. The feature rounds up fiction and nonfiction of many different kinds, and it gives you lots of ways to find what you might love, too. Today, we're diving into the category of nonfiction and highlighting some of our favorite picks.

LBJ biographer Robert Caro reflects on fame, power and the presidency

February 20, 2023 • Caro isn't solely interested in telling the stories of famous men. Instead, he says, "I wanted to use their lives to show how political power worked." Originally broadcast in 2013 and 2019.

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Book banning: stores, authors and communities: what can we do?

Feb 28 2023: "What was once an occasional distraction and disruption has increasingly become a daily occurrence," said Ray Daniels, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) chief communications officer, at the outset of the Winter Institute session "Book Banning: Stores, Authors ...

The exuberant diversity of Ukrainian literature

Feb 28 2023: Writing in The Millions , Timothy Walsh explores the diversity of Ukrainian literature from Anton Chekhov, Joseph Conrad and Nicolai Gogol to Isaac Babel, Sholem Aleichem, Mikhail Bulgakov and Vasily Grossman; and then to the modern day: When Russia invaded Ukraine ...

No plans for changes to Roald Dahl's books in US or Europe

Feb 23 2023: The news last week that editions of Roald Dahl’s body of work issued by U.K. publisher Puffin Books were being edited to remove potentially offensive words including “fat,” “crazy," and “mad,” rewriting character descriptions, and adding completely new sentences, caused...

JK Rowling tells of fear former husband would burn Harry Potter manuscript

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Roald Dahl rewrites: edited language in books criticized as ‘absurd censorship’

Feb 20 2023: Critics are accusing the British publisher of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s books of censorship after it removed colourful language from works such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda to make them more acceptable to modern readers. A review of new ...

HarperCollins union ratifies new contract

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Republicans take aim at risque jokes and romance novels with anti-sex bills

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Bookselling

Feb 15 2023: On January 23, representatives of several European & International Booksellers Federation member organizations gathered online for this year's first quarterly EIBF international call, which allows members to share insights, struggles and progress from their respective ...

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5 Writing Books Every Journalist Should Own

BY RICK NAGEL, Parts Unknown

“Read a lot, write a lot,” I said, almost instantly — advice lifted word-for-word from Stephen King’s book, “On Writing.”

Now, before you snort derisively or make a nasty finger gesture at the NINA emblem on your screen, let me say this: Even if you DON’T LIKE Stephen King, if you have any interest at all in putting sentences together that other people might lay eyes on, by God, you should read this book.

In fact, “On Writing” is one of a handful of books I think every journalist should have on his or her bookshelf, tablet or e-reader.

The following is a list and brief description of those books — the “top five” every professional communicator should not just read, but own . A few on this list may surprise you as much as (or more than) the Stephen King:

(1) ‘On Writing’ By Stephen King

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-8-14-48-am

I re-read this book once every two or three years to recharge my writing batteries, and I consult it often when I need to find inspiration … or a pithy piece of advice.

Yes, “On Writing” is built for fiction writers, but the hard truth is we all need to become better storytellers. I guarantee you’ll see this book’s value in the day-to-day application of your work.

Excerpt: “I’m not asking you to come [ to the blank page ] reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing , damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else.”

(2) ‘Inside Reporting’ by Tim Harrower

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-8-18-46-am

It’s got 1,001 writing tips, reporting basics, story planning how-to’s and all kinds of stuff about online reporting, from blogging to writing for the web to user participation to audience engagement.

The “Morgue” alone features 128 pages chock full o’ great leads and writing examples, guaranteed to inspire.

Excerpt: “Most authors write the text first, then hand off the manuscript to editors and designers who add photos, illustrations and fancy type. But for this book, I designed each page as a I wrote it. Or, rather, I wrote each page as I designed it. Whichever.

“It’s an unusual way to produce a book. … But Ideally it will show you how challenging and rewarding and important and seriously cool journalism is.”

(3) ‘The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook’ by Tim Harrower

newspaper-desginers-handbook

“The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook.” is smart, succinct, brilliantly constructed and super-valuable.

Is it really a “writing” book? I think it is. The excerpt below explains why.

Excerpt: “Today’s readers are visual. Impatient. Easily bored. Readers absorb data in a variety of ways: through words, photos, charts, maps, diagrams. They want news packaged in a sort of ‘information mosaic,’ a combination of text, data and images that approaches complex issues from fresh new angles.”

(4) ‘The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law’ By The Associated Press

AP STylebook .png

The AP Stylebook is widely used as a writing and editing reference in newsrooms, classrooms and corporate offices worldwide.

Excerpt: “This updated and revised version of the Associated Press Stylebook has been organized like a dictionary. Need the acronym for a government agency? Look under the agency’s name. Should you capitalize a word? Check the word itself or the capitalization entry. What’s the format for baseball boxes? See baseball.”

By the way, if you see a style error in this story, it’s because my edition is, like the author, out of date. :)

(5) ‘The Elements of Style’ by William Strunk and E.B. White

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Owning “The Elements of Style” is very close to falling under the category of “duh.” It’s simply the undisputed, all-time-great, must-have, must-read little book on writing.

Coming full circle, I’ll answer the “Why It’s So Awesome” question with another quote from “On Writing,” but I’ll abbreviate one word so that it can appear in the family-friendly confines of NINA:

“Most books about writing are filled with (B.S.). One notable exception to the (B.S.) rule is ‘The Elements of Style’ , by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. There is little or no detectable (B.S.) in that book. … I’ll tell you right now that every aspiring writer should read ‘The Elements of Style.’ ”

I love this little book, and I think you will, too. The Table of Contents of “The Elements of Style” alone provides the best possible advice on how to be a better writer and follows Strunk & White’s maxim to “omit needless words.”

Excerpt: (From the Table of Contents!)

Bonus Recommendation: “Adventures in the Screen Trade” by William Goldman — I left “Adventures in the Screen Trade” off the top-five list only because it’s so focused on screenwriting, and it’s a little out of date, even in its more-recent editions. But if you want to learn more about storytelling, script writing, editing and maybe enhance your video storytelling, give this one a look-see. It’s a great read.

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Published by rick nagel.

Rick Nagel is a man in whose mouth butter never melted. No, wait — that’s S.J. Perelman. Let’s start again. Nagel is a longtime (read “old”) Chicago-area journalist and former govie who is now enjoying retirement. He has held many highfalutin titles: managing editor of Press-Republican Newspapers, editor in chief of Press Publications, editor-publisher of The Beacon-News, and vice president of editorial of Sun-Times News Media, to name a few. Nagel was one of the first Midwest editors of AOL’s “Patch” and served as outreach coordinator for Kane County, IL, where he created Kane County Connects. He never will be confused with the world's most interesting man, but he has led an eclectic and happy life. You can contact him any time at [email protected] View all posts by Rick Nagel

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