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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 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. 

by Reginald Shepherd

Published in 2007 by University of Michigan

The late poet and editor Reginald Shepherd explores the transformative power of poetry in a selection of autobiographical essays and those that focus on the work of other writers, including Alvin Feinman, Jorie Graham, Samuel R. Delany, and Linda Gregg. 

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Published in 1998 by Eighth Mountain Press

The author of numerous books of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin offers in this guide advice about crafting stories and presents examples from other master storytellers to illuminate her points. 

by Luke Reynolds

Published in 2012 by Divertir Publishing

Author Luke Reynolds reflects on forging his own writing life and interviews fourteen other authors—including Jane Smiley, Daniel Handler, Robert Pinsky, George Saunders, Lindsey Collen, and David Wroblewski—about their worst rejections, their first publications, what keeps them motivated, and why they believe in the power of words.

by Sandra Scofield

Published in 2007 by Penguin

In this practical guide, National Book Award–nominee Sandra Scofield offers straightforward information and exercises designed to help writers write strong scenes in fiction.

by Edward Hirsch

Published in 2006 by Harcourt

Drawn from poet Ed Hirsch's Washington Post Book World column "Poet's Choice," this collection features classic and contemporary poems with essays by Hirsch about the poems and their various forms.

by Ron Carlson

Published in 2007 by Graywolf Press

In this guide to writing a short story, acclaimed fiction writer Ron Carlson, who is also director of the graduate program in fiction at the University of California, Irvine, invites readers to join him in the process of crafting his story "The Governer's Ball."

by Paul Yeager

Published in 2008 by Perigee

A witty guide to which words and phrases should not only be avoided, but, as the author puts it, "taken to the language dump to never be heard from again." 

by James Logenbach

Published in 2007 by Graywolf Press

In this writing guide, poet James Logenbach explores the qualities that define the poetic line and uses examples of its use in the writing of poets such as Frank Bidart, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and C. D. Wright.

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