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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 Joyce Carol Oates

Published in 2003 by Ecco

Award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates answers essential questions about narrative craft, and provides valuable lessons on how language, ideas, and experience come together to create a work of art.

by David Grambs and Ellen S. Levine

Published in 2014 by W. W. Norton

Unlike your typical dictionary, this one concerns itself primarily with the observable—from shapes, to buildings, to people. With a reverse definition-to-term format, it is easy to find the descriptive word you're seeking. This expanded and updated edition includes examples of passages from authors including Khaled Hosseini, Zadie Smith, and Donna Tartt.

by Roy Peter Clark

Published in 2014 by Little, Brown

Journalist and educator Roy Peter Clark offers examples from the tradition of short-form writing to help writers produce well-crafted prose with a limited word count.

by Maxine Clair

Published in 2014 by Agate Bolden

Through personal stories, award-winning author Maxine Clair offers insight into the creative process, how to find your creative outlet, and how to trust moments of inspiration. 

by Philippe Petit

Published in 2014 by Riverhead Books

Author and high-wire artist Philippe Petit, best known for his walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1974, shares his unconventional strategies and methods of practicing, problem-solving, and perfecting his craft. The ideas offered can be applied to various creative outlets including writing, music, and dance.

by Stephen Fry

Published in 2007 by Gotham Books

Actor and writer Stephen Fry invites reluctant and aspiring poets to discover writing poetry for pleasure and provides insights, exercises, and simple step-by-step advice.

by Alexander Steele

Published in 2003 by Bloomsbury USA

Techniques taught by the renowned Gotham Writers' Workshop were compiled by the school's president, Alexander Steele. Included are explanations of the fundamental elements of fiction, writing exercises, and the complete text of Raymond Carver's short story Cathedral.

by Brenda Peterson & Sarah Jane Freymann

Published in 2014 by Sasquatch Books

Memoirist Brenda Peterson and literary agent Sarah Jane Freymann offer advice on crafting a memoir culled from decades of experience. Also included are writing exercises, interviews with publishing experts, and information about indie publishing.

by Barbara Abercrombie

Published in 2013 by New World Library

Author and writing instructor Barbara Abercrombie provides a year's worth of writing exercises and prompts, as well as inspiring quotes and examples, to help writers break through the blocks that impede their writing progress.

by Steven Pinker

Published in 2014 by Viking

As a professor of psychology at Harvard University, Steven Pinker approaches the English language from a scientific perspective. In The Sense of Style he provides examples, evidence, and reasoning to help writers apply the guidelines of usage judiciously and to craft clear, concise prose.

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