Best Books for Writers

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

  • The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer

    by
    Sandra Scofield
    Published in 2007
    by Penguin

    In this practical guide, National Book Award–nominee Sandra Scofield offers straightforward information and exercises designed to help writers write strong scenes in fiction.

    ISBN: 
    9780143038269
  • Poet’s Choice

    by
    Edward Hirsch
    Published in 2006
    by Harcourt

    Drawn from poet Ed Hirsch's Washington Post Book World column "Poet's Choice," this collection features classic and contemporary poems with essays by Hirsch about the poems and their various forms.

    ISBN: 
    9780156032674
  • Ron Carlson Writes a Story

    by
    Ron Carlson
    Published in 2007
    by Graywolf Press

    In this guide to writing a short story, acclaimed fiction writer Ron Carlson, who is also director of the graduate program in fiction at the University of California, Irvine, invites readers to join him in the process of crafting his story "The Governer's Ball."

    ISBN: 
    9781555974770
  • The Art of the Poetic Line

    by
    James Logenbach
    Published in 2007
    by Graywolf Press

    In this writing guide, poet James Logenbach explores the qualities that define the poetic line and uses examples of its use in the writing of poets such as Frank Bidart, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and C. D. Wright.

    ISBN: 
    9781555974886
  • New Tax Guide for Writers, Artists, Performers, and Other Creative People

    by
    Peter Jason Riley
    Published in 2012
    by Focus Publishing

    Written by certified public accountant Peter J. Riley, this practical guide—including tips, worksheets, tax forms, and other information—gives writers and artists an overall understanding of the best strategies for collecting data throughout the year in preparation for tax filing.

    ISBN: 
    9781585104697
  • A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism and Travel

    by
    Robin Hemley
    Published in 2012
    by University of Georgia Press

    Robin Hemley examines memoir, journalism, and travel writing as categories of immersion writing and further breaks them down—into the quest, the experiment, the investigation, the infiltration, and the reenactment—in order to define the way writers approach their relationship to their subjects. The book includes helpful exercises, as well as addressing the ethics and legalities of writing about other people.

    ISBN: 
    9780820342559
  • To Sound Like Yourself: Essays on Poetry

    by
    W. D. Snodgrass
    Published in 2002
    by BOA Editions

    In this collection of essays, Pulitzer Prize–winning author W. D. Snodgrass—who was central to the rise of confessional poetry in the United States during the 1960s—meditates on the importance of voice in a poet's work.

    ISBN: 
    1929918186
  • Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching

    by
    Carol Smallwood, Colleen S. Harris, and Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, Editors
    Published in 2012
    by McFarland & Company

    In this collection of essays, fifty-nine women poets offer far-ranging guidance and advice on everything from revision, chapbooks, daily practice, writing conferences, publishing, and writing about the unspeakable. Aimed at emerging and established poets alike, the book is arranged in four themed sections and includes a foreword by poet Molly Peacock.

    ISBN: 
    9780786463923
  • A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics

    by
    CAConrad
    Published in 2012
    by Wave Books

    "I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever increasing brutality, has required me to FIND MY BODY to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry," begins CAConrad in this collection of unorthodox writing exercises meant to upset our perception of everyday life. The poet also includes poems that resulted from the writing exercises featured.

    ISBN: 
    9781933517599
  • The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay

    by
    Carl H. Klaus
    Published in 2010
    by University of Iowa Press

    In this book-length study of the personal essay, Carl Klaus unpacks the made-up self and the manifold ways in which a wide range of essayists and essays have brought it to life. By reconceiving the most fundamental aspect of the personal essay—the I of the essayist—Klaus demonstrates that this seemingly uncontrived form of writing is inherently problematic, not willfully devious but bordering upon the world of fiction.

    ISBN: 
    1587299135
  • 19th Century American Writers on Writing

    by
    Brenda Wineapple, Editor
    Published in 2011
    by Trinity University Press

    This anthology of essays, letters, poems, prose, and excerpts of interviews by fifty-seven authors of the 19th century—including Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Walt Whitman—offers insight into what it means to be a writer within the context of history, as well as classic guidance about craft, style, and form. 

    ISBN: 
    9781595340696
  • ABC of Reading

    by
    Ezra Pound, introduction by Michael Dirda
    Published in 2010
    by New Directions

    Originally published in 1934, Pound's book serves as a guide for those interested in honing their critical thinking through reading the classics. The book is based on the premise that to be a good writer one must be a good reader, aware of the traditions out of which the best literature has emerged.

    ISBN: 
    9780811218931
  • 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

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