What I read in Q3 (July-Sept 2015)

Every quarter I like to share with you my reading list.

If you’re curious what I read earlier this year, you can check out my posts on Q1 and Q2.

As for Q3, let’s dive right in!

(Note: I’ve included affiliate links to all the books below, so if you decide to purchase any of them, it will send a little love my way. :))

My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me – Hillary Winston 

Last quarter I read The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen. Average is marketed as fiction, but when Kultgen’s ex-girlfriend, Hillary Winston, read the book, she discovered huge (and humiliating) portions of the narrative were pulled directly from their relationship together. In response, Winston — a writer for the cult TV show Community — released this memoir chronicling in intimate detail not only her relationship with Kultgen, but all of her relationships throughout her sexually active life. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, and frequently melancholy, Winston reclaims her dignity by fearlessly bearing all in this memoir.  

Recession Proof Graduate: How to Land the Job You Want by Doing Free Work – Charlie Hoehn

What do you do after you graduate from University? How do you get a job that you are passionate about? How do you break into an industry when you are competing with people more experienced than yourself? Hoehn provides a fascinating answer in this book based on his own experience: you offer to work for free. If you know a recent graduate or someone trying to secure a job they truly care about, get them a copy of this book! (FYI – This is exactly how I started my ghostwriting business.)

Supercharge Your Kindle Sale – Nick Stevenson

In the world of independent publishing, Nick Stevenson is one of the success stories; his thriller novels have sold thousands of copies. In this short book, he shares fascinating insights into his approach to book marketing and sales funnels. While keyword research and Amazon sales analysis software may not make for the most interesting reading, it’s the type of info indie authors need to know, if they want to try to replicate Stevenson’s success.

Getting There: A Book of Mentors – Gillian Zoe Segal

In this beautifully designed and wonderfully revealing book, Segal profiles successful individuals from a variety of different fields. From investor Warren Buffet to fitness guru Jillian Michaels to illustrator Jeff Kinney (author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid), each person shares the difficulties they overcame during the long road to success. We dedicated an entire episode of Write Along Radio to discussing this book.

Email Marketing Blueprint – Steve Scott

Like Neil Stevenson, who I mentioned earlier, Steve Scott is another independent author that has managed to figure out how to turn Kindle book sales into a massive revenue stream. Scott has written over 20 non-fiction books that he has built his author business around. In this book, he explains how to use email marketing to find fans, build an audience, and sell books (and other products/services). If you are new to the concept of email marketing, this short book is definitely worth a read.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Despite having  a Master’s degree in English Literature, I somehow managed to make it through University without having read Jane Eyre. I’ve never been a huge fan of Victorian novels, but with some urging from my Write Along Radio co-host Catherine Brunelle and author Erica Deel, I finally decided to give Bronte’s classic a shot. I’m glad I did. Unlike other Victorian novels, Jane Eyre feels surprisingly modern. It’s funny, exciting, and, of course, packed with melodrama.

The Story Grid – Shawn Coyne

Last year I had the honour of interviewing Shawn Coyne on The Writing Coach podcast. It was one of the most educational interviews I have ever conducted. In that same vein, Coyne’s new book is one of the best books on writing craft I’ve ever read. (And I’ve read A LOT of books on writing!). If you are a fiction author, this book a must read; simple as that. Coyne also has an excellent five part video series providing an overview of the book. It’s worth watching!

The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris

The example narrative that Coyne analyzes in The Story Grid is Thomas Harris’ thriller, The Silence of the Lambs. I had, of course, watched the Oscar winning film, but I’d never read one of Harris’ books. I gave The Silence of the Lambs a shot, and was instantly hooked on all things Harris! This book is a masterpiece. One of those amazing works of art where every single aspect of it fits together perfectly and just WORKS on every level.

Red Dragon – Thomas Harris

Having been blown away by The Silence of the Lambs, I immediately moved on to Red Dragon, the book Harris wrote prior to Lambs. While not a masterpiece like Lambs, Red Dragon is an excellent book that reveals an author teetering on the verge of genius. You can see Harris testing ideas and playing with themes that would be revisited fully-formed in Lambs.  This book has been made into two movies, and adapted into the brilliant television series Hannibal (which I’ve been binge watching).

Hannibal – Thomas Harris

It’s not easy to follow-up a masterpiece. Fitzgerald’s follow-up to The Great Gatsby is a muddled mess, and Hannibal doesn’t fair much better. Somewhere about midway through this 600 page book, things go off track. The Clarice Starling we rooted for in Lambs becomes almost unrecognizable, and the book goes so far beyond the realm of plausibility that I spent the last hundred pages wondering if I was reading one long dream sequence. The book’s ending isn’t just unsatisfying, it’s totally unbelievable (which is probably why it was altered when Ridley Scott created the film adaptation). Hannibal is a fantastic reminder that even the most gifted and skilled authors can sometimes loose their way.

Write Your Book from the Middle – James Scott Bell

While not as useful as his book Plot & Structure (a book I find myself returning to again and again in my role as writing coach), Write Your Book from the Middle provides an in-depth examination of the mid-point shift. This is a point in story structure that is often overlooks by authors while working on their manuscript. Bell argues that not only must this point not be over looked, but authors may want to consider crafting their entire narrative around this massively important moment in the story.

The Page Turners: Economy of Fear – Kevin T. Johns

Economy of Fear, the sequel to my debut novel, The Page Turners, was release at the very end of Q2. It’s a young adult sci-fi/horror/fantasy mash-up. If the shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Freak and Geeks had a baby… it would be this series! You can grab the first book in there series here

Rocket Princess vs. Snaggletooth the Dragon – Rich Lauzon and Kevin T. Johns

Earlier this month I released Rocket Princess, a children’s picture book created in collaboration with the incredible illustrator Rich Lauzon. If you have a daughter between the ages of three and seven, she is sure to love this story about a rebellious young lady who refuses to be just another princess. Learn more about Rocket Princess here.

That’s it for me this quarter.

What have YOU been reading lately?

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Kevin T. Johns is an author, writing coach, and ghostwriter. He helps authors from around the world get their stories out of their heads, onto the page, and into readers hands. Grab a free copy of his short guide for authors by clicking the image below.


  • Cassandra Leuthold

    Reply Reply September 28, 2015

    Kevin, great list! I’ve added several of them to my Goodreads to-read list so I can keep track of them. Excellent suggestions.

    My most recent read was a re-devouring of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s such an uplifting book about dealing with people more positively and effectively. All the stories he includes about people’s real-life situations are interesting and make wonderful teaching tools. It’s good teaching for anybody, not just business people.

    • kevintjohns@gmail.com

      Reply Reply September 28, 2015

      That’s definitely a book worth revisiting, Cassandra!

      I always love the story in that book about the guy who spends a whole party just listening to people talk and tell their stories. Then, at the end of the party, everyone raves about what a great conversationalist he is!

      • Cassandra Leuthold

        Reply Reply September 30, 2015

        Yes, that’s a great story! If that doesn’t prove the importance of listening, I don’t know what does.

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