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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 Stephen Corey and Warren Slesinger

Published in 2001 by The Bench Press

The editors of twenty literary magazines discuss the philosophy and practice of selecting poems.

by John Hollander

Published in 2001 by Yale University Press

Poet and critic John Hollander surveys the schemes, patterns, and forms of English verse, illustrating each variation with an original and witty, self-descriptive example.

by Betsy Lerner

Published in 2010 by Riverhead Books

Originally published in 2000, this updated guide includes information about electronic etiquette, book promotion via social media platforms, and the current publishing economy. Lerner, who began her career as an editor, is a partner in the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Agency in New York City.

by Wallace Stegner

Published in 2002 by Penguin

Editor Lynn Stegner brings together eight of Wallace Stegner's previously uncollected essays on writing fiction and teaching creative writing. Stegner addresses every aspect of fiction writing, from the writer's vision to his or her audience, from the use of symbolism to swear words, from the mystery of the creative process to the recognizable truth it seeks finally to reveal.

by Robert Pinsky

Published in 1999 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"Poetry is a vocal, which is to say a bodily, art," Robert Pinsky declares in The Sounds of Poetry. "The medium of poetry is the human body: the column of air inside the chest, shaped into signifying sounds in the larynx and the mouth. In this sense, poetry is as physical or bodily an art as dancing." In this book, the former poet laureate explains how poets use the "technology" of poetry (its sounds) to create works of art that are "performed" in us when we read them aloud.

by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call

Published in 2007 by Plume

The country’s most prominent journalists and nonfiction authors gather each year at Harvard’s Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism. Telling True Stories presents their best advice on everything from finding a good topic, to structuring narrative stories, to writing and selling your first book.

by The Editors of Writer's Digest

Published in 2012 by Writer's Digest Books

Advice and instruction from writers such as Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Hallie Ephron, N. M. Kelby, Heather Sellers, and Donald Maass, with a foreword by James Scott Bell.

by Kim Addonizio

Published in 2009 by W. W. Norton

"Poetry is not a means to an end," Addonizio maintains, "but a continuing engagement with being alive." Her generous guide is for beginners and experienced poets, for groups and in the classroom—indeed for anyone eager to glimpse the angel of poetry.

by William Zinsser

Published in 1998 by Mariner Books

Anyone undertaking the project of writing a memoir knows that the events, memories, and emotions of the past often resist the orderly structure of a book. Inventing the Truth offers wisdom from nine notable memoirists about their process (Ian Frazier searched through generations of family papers to understand his parents' lives), the hurdles they faced (Annie Dillard tackles the central dilemma of memoir: what to put in and what to leave out), and the unexpected joys of bringing their pasts to the page.

by E. M. Forster

Published in 1956 by Mariner Books

In Aspects of the Novel, E. M. Forster delves into the seven elements essential to a novel: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.

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