I'm an English professor, and I spent the first 15 years of my career trying to write like one. You might be surprised by what that's like. We don't emulate the fiction writers we most admire. We too rarely practice what we preach to our composition students — namely that good writing is simple and direct. In fact, we're notorious for maze-y sentences and ugly jargon. The point seems less to attract readers with clear prose than to smack them over the head with a sign that says, "Aren't I smart?"
A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to start writing for general readers, not just my fellow Ph.D.s. To do so, I knew I needed to unlearn my worst academic habits while studying the best techniques of great writers. Here are three fun-to-read books that helped my writing.