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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 Jennifer Traig, editor

Published in 2008 by Holt Paperbacks

Edited by memoirist and 826 Valencia tutor and workshop teacher Jennifer Traig, this resource offers advice from contemporary memoirists, including Steve Almond, Jonathan Ames, Ishmael Beah, Elizabeth Gilbert, Nick Hornby, Maxine Hong Kingston, Tobias Wolff, and many more, plus writing exercises and work plans to get writers started. 

by Bill Roorbach

Published in 2000 by Oxford University Press

This anthology includes more than sixty works of the three main forms of creative nonfiction—literary memoir by writers such as Mary McCarthy, Annie Dillard, and Judy Ruiz; personal essays by authors such as E. B. White to Phillip Lopate to Ntozake Shange; and literary journalism by Truman Capote, Barbara Ehrenreich, Sebastian Junger, and many others. Bill Roorbach's general introduction and introductions to each of the five sections provide useful definitions, crucial history, and critical context for the genre.

by Stephen King

Published in 2010 by Scribner

Best-selling author Stephen King offers an entertaining writing guide that draws on his life experiences, including his near-fatal accident in 1999, to offer insight into the origin of the writer's imagination and perception of the world. 

by Natalie Goldberg

Published in 2008 by Free Press

Written by Natalie Goldberg, author of the best-selling classic Writing Down the Bones, Old Friend From Far Away is a meditation on the capacity of the written word to remember the past, free us from any stifling effects it may have on our voice, and transform the way we think—and write—about ourselves and our lives.

by Laura Oliver

Published in 2011 by Alpha Books

Author and longtime writing instructor Laura Oliver offers a guide to aspiring writers on how to access and bring to life personal stories. The Story Within employs memoir to advise readers on craft, writing principles, cultivating the creative spirit, publication, and more.

by Francine Prose

Published in 2006 by HarperCollins

Best-selling author Francine Prose meditates on how quality reading informs great writing in this literary guide to craft. Taking lessons from writers such as Dostoyevsky, Austen, Woolf, Joyce, and Roth, Prose draws attention to the nuts and bolts of writing by close-reading masters of the written word.

by Dana Gioia and R. S. Gwynn, editors

Published in 2005 by Longman

Poets Dana Gioia and R.S. Gwynn present pieces of short fiction from fifty-two classic, contemporary and new voices alongside material to place the stories in historical, biographical, and critical context. A section called "Critical Approaches to Literature" explains how to take an informed, critical stance when reading literature, and a glossary of literary terms further enhances the experience of reading the works.

by Anne Lamott

Published in 1995 by Anchor Books

Anne Lamott, best-selling author of seven novels and five books of nonfiction, offers witty step-by-step instructions on writing and how to manage a writer’s life—including challenges such as writer’s block, jealousy, and unsatisfactory drafts—in this classic guide.

by Melissa Kwasny, editor

Published in 2004 by Wesleyan University Press

Poet and novelist Melissa Kwasny brings together prose pieces—essays, letters, declarations, defenses, manifestos, and apologia—by many influential European and American poets. The anthology pieces follows changing notions of what a poem is, what a poet is, why we read a poem, and the development of stylistic and ideological strategies in verse.

by Floyd Skloot

Published in 2011 by Bison Books

At forty-one, novelist and poet Floyd Skoot suffered from a brain disease that damaged his memory. The Wink of the Zenith is a memoir about how his unique circumstances made him develop as a writer. The book explores fundamental questions about how life shapes the creative spirit.

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