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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 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.

by Samuel R. Delany

Published in 2006 by Wesleyan University Press

Samuel R. Delany's book About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews examines the condition of the contemporary creative writer. The award-winning novelist and Grand Master of Science Fiction also offers tips on specifics such as when to use flashbacks, along with advice on employing general elements of structure and style.

by John Gardner

Published in 1991 by Vintage

The Art of Fiction is a practical, instructive handbook based on novelist John Gardner's seminars on the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner employs detailed examples from classic works of literature and covers a range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence.

by Tina Welling

Published in 2014 by New World Library

In Writing Wild, Tina Welling details a three-step "Spirit Walk" process for inviting nature to enliven and inspire our creativity. Welling suggests we form a creative parntnership with nature, because "everything we know about creating we know intuitively from the natural world."

by George Orwell

Published in 2005 by Penguin Great Ideas

This compilation of essays by George Orwell features the titular essay "Why I Write," originally published in the Summer 1946 edition of Gangrel, which offers a mini-autobiography detailing how he became a full-fledged writer. Orwell then goes on to highlight the "four great motives for writing," which he claims exist in every writer. Two other essays by Orwell are also included in the volume, "The Lion and the Unicorn" and "Politics and the English Language," as well as the short story "A Hanging."

by William Zinsser

Published in 2006 by Harper Perennial

First published in 1976, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction offers readers fundamental principles on writing across all subjects, as well as insights on craft, style, and process from distinguished writer and teacher William Zinsser.

by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2013 by William Morrow

Bestselling author Neil Gaiman's graduation speech to Philidelphia's University of the Arts class of 2012 encourages young artists, writers, musicians, and dreamers to "make good art." The book is designed by graphic artist Chip Kidd and contains the full text of Gaiman's famous speech.

by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Published in 2014 by W. W. Norton

In To The Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing, Robert Hartwell Fiske suggests how to identify and correct wordiness, and provides alternative expressions with real-world examples to help keep your writing clear and convincing.

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