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Laura Bontje

Book Recommendations for Editors

A red bow is wrapped around a stack of books.
A red bow is wrapped around a stack of books.
Copyright: chrupka

As winter holidays approach, it’s a great time to start thinking about books! This year, we asked the student affiliate Facebook group and the Editors’ Weekly blog team for their book recommendations for editors.

Whether you’re looking for a literary gift for the editor in your life or planning to curl up with some reading of your own, we hope these recommendations offer some inspiration for your winter book list. 

Recommended reading

The Chicago Guide to Copyediting Fiction (Amy J. Schneider)

“I have a deep appreciation for numerous writing and editing books, making it challenging to single out a favourite. However, if pressed, I would undoubtedly choose The Chicago Guide to Copyediting Fiction. Its focus on fiction aligns seamlessly with my needs as a fiction editor, complementing The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) as an invaluable companion. This resource not only offers comprehensive examples but also dispenses practical advice, fostering an environment where copy editors can thrive. It’s helped me save time in my editing process.”

— Recommended by Eilidh Locherty (she/her), student affiliate

The Freelance Editor’s Handbook (Suzy Bills)

“I just recommended this book to the Editors Canada Student Affiliates Facebook group as part of our discussion series on freelance editing this month. The Freelance Editor’s Handbook covers everything from contracts to websites, and it’s perfect for students and new editors who want to pursue a freelance editing career.”

— Recommended by Michelle Noble (she/her), student affiliate

Health Literacy from A to Z (Helen Osborne)

“I recently read Health Literacy from A to Z as part of a Plain Language in Health Literacy course taught by Iva Cheung. Helen Osborne offers strategies and resources for communicating effectively in a health care setting, but plain language principles are broadly applicable to all written communications. As editors, we think about audience, word choices, sentence structure, clarity and consistency. And some of us might need to consider whether a document’s design is accessible to everyone. Most importantly, this book is a reminder of the power of communication and that, as editors, we can all take part in addressing issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

— Recommended by Emily Lam (she/her), proofreader and social media contributor, The Editors’ Weekly

The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (Carol Fisher Saller)

“This book was an absolute pleasure to read owing to Saller’s writing style (she takes the reader under her wing while making them feel respected as a colleague) and sense of humour (she’ll make you laugh. A lot.). The Subversive Copy Editor is less a how-to about the mechanics of editing and more about relationship-building and navigating the challenges of working with ‘writers, colleagues and yourself.’ Despite being published in 2009 (with a second edition in 2016), it feels entirely relevant to today’s editing experience.”

— Recommended by Laurie Siblock (she/her), student affiliate

The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas (Robert Zaretsky)

“I have several books on the art, craft, science and business of editing. Yet the works of philosopher Simone Weil (I recommend The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas) continue to inspire me as I find ways to apply them to my practice. For example, Weil’s description of attention as ‘the rarest and purest form of generosity’ has stuck with me for a long time. Editors pay attention — not simply with the muscular efforts of the eye, but with our deepest sense of empathy and belief in the author and their story (aka humanity). Only a small part of editing is withdrawing into language; it is mostly an active process of listening to and caring for another’s vision.”

— Recommended by Adebe DeRango-Adem (she/her), student affiliate

Writing in Color: Fourteen Writers on the Lessons We’ve Learned (Eds. Nafiza Azad and Melody Simpson)

“As a book editor, I try to stay on top of the conversations happening in fiction so I can be more intentional in my editing practice and, in turn, better advise my clients. As a white editor, I try to seek perspectives on writing that challenge my implicit biases about literature. Writing in Color isn’t an editing book, but the content will resonate with editors. I appreciated the authors’ thoughtful reflections on italicizing (or not) non-English words, dismantling the ‘rules’ about the right way to write, honouring where stories come from and more.”

— Recommended by Laura Bontje (she/her), managing editor, The Editors’ Weekly

Add your recommendation

What are your go-to book recommendations for editors? Let us know in the comments!


Previous post from Laura Bontje: The Other Kind of Editorial Cartoon

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About the author

Laura Bontje

Laura Bontje is a freelance editor in London, Ontario. She specializes in fiction editing, with a particular focus on children’s literature. Laura also provides editing and content writing services for businesses and nonprofits. She is the author of the palindrome-packed picture book Was It a Cat I Saw? (Amicus Ink, 2024) and the forthcoming story When the Air Sang (Annick Press, 2025).


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