Chosen by DBC Pierre and The Guardian:
1. To generate early inspiration and feel part of a club:
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
Writing can make you feel like a weirdo if you don’t already – but feeling like a weirdo is useless psychology for the job, hence this little book. Mason Currey has carefully compiled the daily habits and personal foibles of 161 great writers, artists, scientists and thinkers, including one who stood on his head to cure creative block. By the end of this book, our carpet-glue habit looks normal.
2. To know how many rules we’re about to break:
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and EB White
The rules of modern writing have been around for a century, and this tiny volume is where they spent all that time. William Strunk Jr, professor of English at Cornell University, first printed the book privately for his students at the end of the first world war. Although it’s been updated, it still smells of chalk and tweed, and still inspires us to do things properly, if only via a sense that we might be shouted at if we don’t.
3. To grasp the difference between one character and another:
Distinction by Pierre Bourdieu
This is strictly speaking a sociology text, but don’t be put off by its density, its diagrams or its tables: it’s a gold mine. Apparently, no judgment of taste is innocent, meaning that everyone is some kind of snob. Here, Bourdieu literally maps the kinds of snob we are, from the food we serve our friends and the knick-knacks on our dressers to the way we value pregnant women and sunsets. Although it’s modelled on the French bourgeoisie, we can still see all our colleagues and neighbours – if not ourselves – inside.