These five books taught me about or inspired my love for journalism
My favourite reads: Charles Capel
I find the books that resonate with me the most are those that teach me something. Fiction or not, there’s no greater joy than finishing a book and feeling like you’ve learnt something new. All of these books have either inspired a love for, or taught me something about journalism.
My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism by Andrew Marr (2004)
Using anecdotes from his own career, Marr’s book is a comprehensive history of Fleet Street. Reading this before I started training was a great way to get to grips with the Machiavellian, gritty, and fast-paced world of journalism.
The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (1907)
This domestic drama disguised as a spy thriller is a masterclass in writing. It tells the story of Adolf Verloc’s life following a bungled bomb plot in 19th-century London, of which he was the architect. Studying this at school, I hated it the first time I read it, but upon second or third reading, Conrad’s dark humor and dramatic irony shines through, and it quickly became my favorite novel. For me, it is the epitome of clever, layered writing.
The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Based on The Wall Street Journal Guide by William E. Blundell (1988)
I read this while working in New York, with aspirations as a features writer. It is the ultimate guide to excellent feature writing for newspapers, providing step-by-step examples starting from finding an idea to executing it to the highest standard, including some masterful examples to inspire a young journalist into productivity. Shortly after, I decided it might be easier to focus on news.
The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway (2017)
There are some books you can’t stop talking about. As my interest in business news started to peak, Scott Galloway’s analysis of why these companies are successful, and the effect they’re having on our society is thought-provoking, terrifying and inspiring. Packed with some sage career advice in the last chapter, Galloway is often hilarious, and always fiercely intelligent.
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938)
Certainly not the first time this has been chosen, Scoop is considered a literary rite of passage for journalists. It follows an oblivious reporter thrust out of his depth when he is sent to an unfamiliar foreign country. I read this when I first arrived in Abu Dhabi; Waugh’s dry British wit helped dull any feelings of homesickness. Based in a fictional African country of Ishmaelia, rookie reporter John Boot would rather be writing about the British countryside, but in a case of mistaken identity is sent to report on a phony war.
Charles Capel is the breaking news reporter for The National