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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 The San Francisco Writers' Grotto

Published in 2011 by Chronicle Books

Get your creative juices flowing with this collection of witty, outrageous, and thought-provoking writing prompts compiled by thirty-five members of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, a workspace for professional writers.

by Janna Malamud Smith

Published in 2012 by Counterpoint Press

The author uses stories of artists' lives, personal anecdotes, and insights from the author's work as a psychotherapist to examine the psychological obstacles that prevent people, including poets and writers, from staying with, and relishing, the process of art-making.

by Robert J. Ray

Published in 2007 by Watson-Guptill Publications

The author of The Weekend Novelist guides readers through a series of seventeen weekend revision exercises.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Published in 2013 by MiroLand Publishers

The author, a widely published poet and the executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey, combines her own personal story as a writer with suggestions for writers at all stages of development.

by Lee Gutkind, editor

Published in 2004 by W. W. Norton

This collection of work previously published in the literary journal that helped define a genre includes writing by Diane Ackerman, Phillip Lopate, John McPhee, Richard Rodriguez, Floyd Skloot, John Edgar Wideman, and Terry Tempest Williams.

by Ann Longknife and K. D. Sullivan

Published in 2012 by Barron's Educational Series

The new edition of this reference book for students, writers, and educators reviews the fundamentals of correct sentence structure, then presents twenty basic sentence patterns that encompass virtually every effective way in which simple, compound, and complex sentences can be structured.

by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Published in 2003 by University of Wisconsin Press

In this resource for fiction writers, short story and novelist Jesse Lee Kercheval equates structuring fiction with building a house. Kercheval offers advice on generating story ideas, developing characters, and revision. Each chapter is accompanied by writing exercises as well.

by Mason Currey, editor

Published in 2013 by Knopf

By presenting the habits and routines of various artists—including writers such as Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Jane Austen, Ann Beattie, Simone de Beauvoir, Patricia Highsmith, Arthur Miller, Gertrude Stein, Philip Roth, and Voltaire—Mason Currey aims to show, as he writes in his introduction, "how grand creative visions translate to small daily increments; how one's working habits influence the work itself, and vice versa."

by Kate Sontag and David Graham, editors

Published in 2001 by Graywolf Press

In this collection of twenty-eight essays, poets such as Frank Bidart, Marilyn Chin, Billy Collins, Louise Glück, Kimiko Hahn, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Sharon Olds explore the autobiographical impulse in poetry. As Library Journal writes: "Each weighs in on a different area of the discussion, but all are evocative and engaging. One quickly discovers that the confessional poem's legacy extends further than the expected Plath, Sexton, and Lowell. Sappho, Shakespeare's elusive figures, Milton's daughters, and Mary Wordsworth are as likely to be evoked by these writers, as they demonstrate how poetic voice spans an infinite variety of combinations." 

by Susan M. Tiberghien

Published in 2007 by Da Capo Press

In this guide writer and teacher Susan M. Tiberghien provides advice and writing exercises that help beginning writers develop their voice and enrich their craft. 

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