Best Books for Writers

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

  • Is Life Like This? A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months

    John Dufresne
    Published in 2011
    by W.W. Norton & Company

    Novelist John Dufresne writes a practical guide for aspiring novelists that touches on the history of the novel, along with organizing principles of the form, and advice on how to move forward, think, and observe. Chapters are divided by weeks to form the course of a six-month program.

  • A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry

    Mary Oliver
    Published in 1994
    by Mariner Books

    Poet Mary Oliver tells of the basic ways a poem is built, including meter and rhyme, form and diction, sound and sense. Drawing on poems from Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and others, Oliver gives clear instruction on how to approach poetry.


  • The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays From Tin House

    Dorothy Allison, Steve Almond, Rick Bass, Susan Bell, Aimee Bender, Kate Bernheimer, Lucy Corin, Tom Grimes, Matthea Harvey, and more
    Published in 2009
    by Tin House Books

    The Writer's Notebook compiles the best craft seminars in the history of the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, along with a variety of craft essays from some of Tin House's favorite writers. With how-tos, close readings, and personal anecdotes, The Writer's Notebook offers aspiring writers advice and inspiration to hone their own craft.

  • Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft

    Janet Burroway
    Published in 2010
    by Longman

    Imaginative Writing:  The Elements of Craft explores the craft of creative writing in four genres:  fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction.  A trade author as well as a professor of creative writing, Burroway brings her years of teaching and writing to this book.  "Try-This" exercises appear throughout each chapter.