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Writing Places: The Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  35 reviews
“William Zinsser turns his zest, warmth and curiosity—his sharp but forgiving eye—on his own story. The result is lively, funny and moving, especially for anyone who cares about art and the business of writing well.”
—Evan Thomas, Newsweek


In Writing Places, William Zinsser—the author of On Writing Well, the bestseller that has inspired two generations of writers, journalis
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Harper (first published May 13th 2009)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  214 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jan 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked this simply because I like Zinsser’s writing style, and so I’ll read pretty much anything he writes about. It's a good read, even though this is not the best of Zinsser’s work. I enjoyed the sections on the history of places he worked, his writing process behind On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, and some of his jokes are good. But other places grew stale, and there’s a lot of name dropping and insider references. This is not a must-read. ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Just ok. Solid three stars.

I made the mistake of reading this at the same time I found his On Writing Well. Back and forth I go, and this one doesn't hold up as well as OWW.

It was hit and miss with me. Some of it was interesting but many times I had to mentally bring myself back to the book and rereading passages I found I wasn't really reading.

If you're only going to read one, read On Writing Well. I absolutely am loving that book and highlighting so much. This book seemed too technical to m
Nov 28, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
I like this author! I have known about his books, but I had not previously actually read one. It was a pleasant nostlagia trip to read his impressions of Yale. He made even New York City sound appealing. He is a bit of a Luddite. I will be reading more of his books.
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Though sadly I will never meet Mr. Zinsser, I feel after reading Writing Places that we are old friends. He is a generous soul telling the story of his life with good humor. The last sentence came too quickly.
David Macpherson
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice memoir of a working writer. Its a good way to sample his earlier work. I have looked at his earlier books and he lifted whole pages from the previous work to fill up this one. That doesn't kill the enjoyment of the book, just to know, this is territory he has tread before ...more
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Would recommend: Yes

Reading Writing Places made me want to get out there and write! Right now! Just thinking about it gives me a thrill.
Doug Page
Bottom line - no matter where you set up your Underwood (nka word processor), keep your fingers moving. And it doesn't hurt to be well-connected. ...more
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Not as good as his writing guide
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a well-written memoir by one of the most highly regarded writers of the 20th century. In addition to the many things Zinsser does well, he manages to keep his book brief--heeding, as always, his own advice. He cuts everything that is not essential.

I enjoyed not only his craft, but his story. He lived an interesting life and the stories in this book capture much of the adventure of being a soldier, a journalist in Manhattan, a professor at Yale, a globe-trotting free-lance writer, and th
Jeff Short
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Zinsser wrote about a lifetime of writing, a lifetime of jobs, and a lifetime of places where those were joined. It was informative and enjoyable to read some of the background for his book "On Writing Well." He was a product of a different era. I chuckled thinking about his comment on not trusting a business man who wasn't wearing a coat and tie. He updated his book throughout life and strengthened it in many ways. His primary aim of clarifying writing through decluttered language is timeless. ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Zinsser had a long and fascinating career, and he writes about it with humor and specific detail. He worked for old-time newspapers, magazines (including the wonderful Life magazine), a college alumni magazine, and as a freelancer. He taught writing and wrote books about writing. He moved from using typewriters into the digital age.
Suyog Ketkar
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book is a must-have for someone who wants to know the principles behind good memoir writing. It isn't an autobiography, it is a well-structured account of how the author progressed in his life, learning at every milestone. Writing Places, for that reason, is as much about writing as about places. ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir from the author of On Writing Well supports the notion that, if you want to write well, it helps to read the work of writers who write well. Crisp, clear prose that draws you from paragraph to next paragraph, page to next page. ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable autobiography of William Zinsser told from the perspective of the places where he has written. It slows and becomes less interesting in the middle, but the beginning and the end are quite enjoyable.
Lacey Bard
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting, but so very self absorbed and seemed to be me me me oh and there was this historical event going on, but let's focus on me. Typical for the authors generation, but I honestly had no idea who he was prior to reading this book. ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I used to be a newspaper reporter, and my editor recommended reading William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well.” I fell in love with his style, his perspective, and his cadence. Truthfully, he reads a lot like my old editor, and it feels like I’m catching up with my good friend when I read Zinsser’s work.

I listened to Zinsser narrate his nonfiction book, “Writing Places,” where he describes the different places he wrote and the types of jobs he had. He explains the birth of his most famous book, the de
Gloria Bullman
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A great autobiography of the making of a writer and his subsequently helping form other writers. Fun to read and deeply thoughtful.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I got this book as a deal for my Kindle, and it is worth far more than I paid for it. A great look at the life of the author, his love of writing, and the impact that writing has had on his life.
Aug 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting look at the author’s life through the places he wrote.
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wish I had met him!
Christopher Moellering
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recently discovered William Zinsser, who died last year at the age of 92. I picked up the audio copy of this book at the library, which is unusual for me as I’m not usually given to audio books. It made a good companion on the A6 this week, though, as I had to drive about 90 minutes back and forth to Vilseck two days for work. In its audiobook format, it is of the best quality, unabridged, and read by the author. This seems the way an audiobook should be. On four compact discs, it lasted aroun ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
WRITING PLACES is a memoir of a writer, of Bill Zinsser's experiences as a journalist, freelance writer, and teacher. I think writers are super cool and secretly want to be one, which is why I picked this.

I feel terrible saying this, since Zinsser seems like a very nice older gentlemen, but I found the first part of this book to be pretty unreadable. It sort of like reading a Dominick Dunne social column in that it was full of names that I didn't know, little anecdotes that I didn't really see t
Taylor Church
A quick read worth its time. The author was a little all over the place, and at times was reaching. But I kind of like authors that narrate as if truly from their mind, for who has completely coherent and organized thoughts all the time? I recommend this to anyone who likes writing, and is imagining a future in it. The author does wax a little verbose at times while describing architecture and local flora.
I thought this was going to be advice about writing about places (travel writing) in the vein of On Writing Well, so I was disappointed to find it is a memoir about places the author has written. It's okay...a bit long winded, especially as I am not that inherently interested in his life. Short, though. ...more
Carla Jean
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I liked it so much that I immediately took out paper and pen to write Mr. Zinsser a thank-you note.
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I like the way he framed his memoir. Great read.
Alexandra Makini
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Zinsser is a must for any writer.
Ramesh Prabhu
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What matters most in good writing -- (The Reading Room) ...more
Nymphadora Remus
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I cherry-picked just chapter 10 On Becoming A Teacher at the moment, but all Zinsser books deserve close reading. Writing Places is no exception.
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William Knowlton Zinsser is an American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher. He began his career as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune, where he worked as a feature writer, drama editor, film critic, and editorial writer. He has been a longtime contributor to leading magazines.

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