Best Books for Writers

From the newly published to the invaluable classic, our list of essential books for creative writers.

  • A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft

    by
    Andrea Barrett and Peter Turchi, editors
    Published in 2011
    by Trinity University Press

    This anthology features essays by twenty fiction writers, including Charles Baxter, Maud Casey, Lan Samantha Chang, Stacey D'Erasmo, and Kevin McIlvoy, covering narrative distance and voice, character, setting, structure, and more. As the editors write in the introduction, "Writers and readers interested...in contemplation of various aspects of the fiction writer's craft will, we think, find this collection surprising, provocative, and even useful." One hundred percent of the book's royalties go to Friends of Writers, Inc., to provide scholarships for developing writers.

    ISBN: 
    9781595340726
  • The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir

    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. 

    ISBN: 
    9780805087130
  • Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: The Art of Truth

    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.

    ISBN: 
    9780195135565
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

    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. 

    ISBN: 
    1439156816
  • Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir

    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.

    ISBN: 
    1416535020
  • The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers

    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.

    ISBN: 
    9781615641147
  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

    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.

    ISBN: 
    9780060777043
  • The Art of the Short Story: 52 Great Authors, Their Best Short Fiction, and Their Insights on Writing

    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.

    ISBN: 
    0321337220
  • Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

    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.

    ISBN: 
    9780385480017
  • Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800-1950

    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.

    ISBN: 
    0819566063
  • The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life

    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.

    ISBN: 
    9780803211193
  • Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry

    by
    David Orr
    Published in 2011
    by HarperCollins

    Award-winning poetry critic David Orr provides a tour and guide to contemporary poetry and the ways in which to appreciate it. Beautiful & Pointless examines what poets and poetry readers talk about when they discuss poetry, such as why poetry seems especially personal and what it means to write "in form."

    ISBN: 
    9780061673450
  • A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1996-2008

    by
    Adrienne Rich
    Published in 2009
    by W.W. Norton & Company

    American poet and essayist Adrienne Rich examines a diverse section of writings and their place in past and present social disorders and transformations. Beyond literary theories, she explores from many angles how the art of language has acted on and been shaped by their creators’ worlds.

    ISBN: 
    9780393070064
  • Sol Stein's A-Z Guide to Writing Success and Publishing Know-How

    by
    Sol Stein
    Published in 2010
    by St. Martin’s Griffin

    Sol Stein—novelist, editor, and publisher—offers a handy reference on a wide variety of writing-related questions and concerns. Readers will find explanations of publishing terms, information about craft, advice on constructive writing habits, and more.

    ISBN: 
    9780312550950
  • Letters to a Young Poet

    by
    Rainer Maria Rilke
    Published in 1993
    by W.W. Norton & Company

    Drawn by some sympathetic note in one of his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of responses to a young would-be poet, on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. An accompanying chronicle of Rilke's life shows what he was experiencing in his own relationship to life and work when he wrote these letters.

    ISBN: 
    9780393310399
  • The Art of the Story: An International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories

    by
    Daniel Halpern, editor
    Published in 2000
    by Penguin

    Editor of The Art of the Tale, Daniel Halpern has assembled the next generation of short-story writers—those born after 1937—to create a companion volume, The Art of the Story. The collection includes seventy-eight contributors from thirty-five countries. The Art of the Story combines works of established masters as well as new voices of writers whose work have seldom been translated into English.

    ISBN: 
    0140296387
  • Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction

    by
    Jack Hart
    Published in 2011
    by University of Chicago Press

    Jack Hart, former managing editor of the Oregonian, has created a guide to the methods and mechanics of crafting narrative nonfiction. Hart covers what writers in this genre need to know, from understanding story theory and structure, to mastering point of view and such basic elements as scene, action, and character, to drafting, revising, and editing work for publication. 

    ISBN: 
    0226318141
  • Argument and Song: Sources and Silences in Poetry

    by
    Stanley Plumly
    Published in 2003
    by Handsel Books

    In this collection of essays, poet Stanley Plumly meditates on poetry and art, especially the impulses, occasions, and places out of which art arises and the forms by which imagination gives it shape.

    ISBN: 
    1590510763
  • The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide: Advice From an Unrepentant Novelist

    by
    John McNally
    Published in 2010
    by University of Iowa Press

    Novelist and essayist John McNally writes comprehensively about living the life of the writer. With chapters on writing degrees and graduate programs, the nuts and bolts of agents and query letters, and book signings, McNally covers a wide range of writerly topics for aspiring writers and teachers of writing.

    ISBN: 
    1587299208
  • Writing Fiction

    by
    R.V. Cassill
    Published in 1975
    by Prentice-Hall

    In Writing Fiction, R.V. Cassill,the original editor of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, provides an instructional text on fiction that covers mechanics, revision, the writing process, and general advice about craft.

    ISBN: 
    0139701117
  • Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet

    by
    Christian Wiman
    Published in 2007
    by Copper Canyon Press

    Ambition and Survival is a collection of personal essays and critical prose by Christian Wiman, the editor of Poetry magazine. Wiman recounts his path to becoming a poet, his struggle with a rare form of incurable cancer, and how mortality reignited his religious passions.

    ISBN: 
    9781556592607
  • The Secret Miracle: The Novelist's Handbook

    by
    Daniel Alarcon, editor
    Published in 2010
    by St. Martin’s Griffin

    Drawing back the curtain on the process of writing novels, The Secret Miracle brings together well-known practitioners of the craft to discuss how they write. Paul Auster, Mario Vargas Llosa, Susan Minot, Rick Moody, Haruki Murakami, George Pelecanos, Gary Shteyngart, and others take readers step by step through the alchemy of writing fiction, answering everything from nuts-and-bolts queries—“Do you outline?”—to questions posed by writers and readers alike: “What makes a character compelling?”

    ISBN: 
    9780805087147
  • Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

    by
    Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French
    Published in 2010
    by Longman

    Novelists Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French and essayist Ned Stuckey-French provide a guide for the novice story writer from first inspiration to final revision by providing practical writing techniques and concrete examples. The text also includes exercises to spur writing and creativity.

     

    ISBN: 
    9780205750344
  • The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

    by
    Charles Baxter
    Published in 2007
    by Graywolf Press

    Fiction writer and essayist Charles Baxter’s The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot discusses and illustrates the hidden subtextual overtones and undertones in fictional works haunted by the unspoken, the suppressed, and the secreted. Using an array of examples from Melville and Dostoyevsky to contemporary writers Paula Fox, Edward P. Jones, and Lorrie Moore, Baxter explains how fiction writers create those visible and invisible details.

    ISBN: 
    9781555974732
  • World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down

    by
    Christian McEwen
    Published in 2011
    by Bauhan Publishing

    In World Enough and Time, Christian McEwen places emphasis on living simply and in the present moment. Drawing wisdom from writers ranging from Montaigne to Emerson, and from a long list of artists and scholars, McEwen praises the effects of slowing down on creativity and productivity.

     

     

    ISBN: 
    9780872331464

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