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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 Joseph M. Williams

Published in 1995 by University of Chicago Press

Joseph M. Williams offers a practical guide to improving one’s writing by focusing on the sentence and paragraph levels. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace includes strategies for identifying weak writing and using form as a way to approach revision.

by Verlyn Klinkenborg

Published in 2012 by Knopf

Verlyn Klinkenborg draws from his years of experience as a writer and teacher of writing to offer fresh pieces of wisdom about the writing process. Written in short prose bursts, Several Short Sentences About Writing provides tried-and-tested starting points, ideas, and experiments for writers at any level.

by Lee Gutkind

Published in 2012 by Da Capo Press

In this comprehensive how-to guide for the genre, Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction magazine, provides insights on writing creative nonfiction--from memoir to literary journalism and everything in between, including chapters on point of view, narrative, research, structure, and more.

by John B. Thompson

Published in 2010 by Polity Press

John B. Thompson presents an accessible overview of the book publishing business—from the changes in agenting to the conglomeration of publishing houses to the growth of the retail chains to the digital revolution. This book provides writers with an in-depth understanding of publishing's ecosystem, providing them with the background they need before taking their manuscript to market.

by Lia Purpura

Published in 2006 by Sarabande Books

In this collection of essays, poet Lia Purpura explores the act of observation as it relates the to the writer's endeavor. Purpura is an award-winning writer who teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Tacoma, Washington.

by Barbara Abercrombie

Published in 2012 by New World Library

Novelist and essayist Barbara Abercrombie offers a collection of wide-ranging anecdotes, lessons, and prompts for beginning and veteran writers. A Year of Writing Dangerously devotes sections to writerly topics such as "failing better," mentorship, and keeping faith, and pairs each lesson with a quotation from a famous writer.

by Klara Glowczewska, editor

Published in 2007 by Penguin Books

This volume of travel writing contains twenty-one pieces pairing well known writers with their favorite exotic locales. Russell Banks writes on the Everglades, Francine Prose explores the secrets of Prague, Robert Hughes takes us on a tour of Italy, and more. The collection also includes practical advice and insider travel tips on the featured locations.

by Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips, editors

Published in 1998 by Granary Books

Published in partnership with the New York Public Library and based on an exhibit that originally appeared there, this guide offers a comprehensive but idiosyncratic look at the small press publishing scene in San Francisco and in downtown Manhattan during the 1960s and '70s. It includes a timeline and over two hundred images from one of the richest periods of American writing and publishing. 

by Vendela Vida, editor

Published in 2008 by McSweeney's

This collection features twenty-three conversations between writers such as Tayari Jones and Chris Abani, Jonathan Lethem and Paul Auster, Ben Ehrenreich and John Banville, and Vendela Vida and Jennifer Egan, whose discussions range well beyond writing and craft, offering insight into the author's perspective of the world.  

by Muriel Rukeyser

Published in 1996 by Paris Press

In this American classic, with a foreword by poet Jane Cooper, Muriel Rukeyser explores the promise of poetry as an art form that can help us shape a civil society. 

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