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Best Books for Writers

From the newly published to the invaluable classic, our list of essential books for creative writers.

by William S. Strong

Published in 2014 by MIT Press

Written for nonlawyers, The Copyright Book offers essential information for authors (and creative people in every medium) on the fundamentals of copyright law. The sixth edition has been updated to cover issues that have arisen in the Internet age, including e-reserves, the status of "orphan works," and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

by Julia Cameron

Published in 1999 by Tarcher

In The Right to Write, journalist and author Julia Cameron discusses the importance of "creative unblocking." The book offers advice on how to make writing a joyful and cathartic process, as well as examples from her life life as a writer.

by Edward Hirsch

Published in 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Award-winning poet Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary examines the poetic traditions of the world while providing definitions for important poetic vocabulary, including forms, devices, movements, and rhetorical terms.

by Austin Kleon

Published in 2012 by Workman Publishing Company

Sparked by a speech he gave to a group of college students in upstate New York, writer and illustrator Austin Kleon shares the ten things he wishes some told him when he was young through illustrations, exercises, and examples.

by Celia Blue Johnson

Published in 2013 by Perigee

In Odd Type Writers, Celia Blue Johnson explores the quirky writing habits of authors such as Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Virginia Woolf—who liked to use purple ink and, in her twenties, preferred to write while standing up.

by John Casey

Published in 2014 by W. W. Norton

Award-winning novelist John Casey's Beyond the First Draft is a collection of essays that address various topics of concern to fiction writers, including comedy, point of view, structure, and scene-setting. For example, in "Dogma and Anti-Dogma," Casey examines the advice of authors—like J.D. Salinger's "Write for yourself"—and offers ways to interpret their reccomendations.

by Meredith Maran

Published in 2013 by Plume

Why We Write is a collection of tips, tricks, and secrets from twenty acclaimed American authors on how to lead a successful writing life. The book was compiled and edited by Meredith Maran, and includes contributions from authors such as Ann Patchett, Jodi Picoult, and Jennifer Egan.

by Henry Miller

by New Directions Publishing

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. In this state of god-like awareness one sings; in this realm the world exists as a poem." A collection of stories and essays by Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart offers musings on philosophy and writing.

by Dani Shapiro

Published in 2013 by Atlantic Monthly Press

In Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, novelist and memoirist Dani Shapiro offers wisdom, insights, and practical lessons drawn from her twenty-year journey as a writer and teacher. "Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write." The book is a blend of personal stories, tales from other authors, and an examination of her own writing process.

by Robert Pinsky

Published in 2013 by W. W. Norton

According to poet and editor Robert Pinsky, one learns to write poetry by first learning to read it. Divided into four sections—Freedom, Listening, Form, and Dreaming Things Up—Pinsky presents his mentors' work in Singing School to encourage the reader to take a practical approach, with informed pleasure and sharp interest in the craft.

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