Best Books for Writers

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

  • The Describer's Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms & Literary Quotations

    by
    David Grambs and Ellen S. Levine
    Published in 2014
    by W. W. Norton

    Unlike your typical dictionary, this one concerns itself primarily with the observable—from shapes, to buildings, to people. With a reverse definition-to-term format, it is easy to find the descriptive word you're seeking. This expanded and updated edition includes examples of passages from authors including Khaled Hosseini, Zadie Smith, and Donna Tartt.

    ISBN: 
    9780393346169
  • How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times

    by
    Roy Peter Clark
    Published in 2014
    by Little, Brown

    Journalist and educator Roy Peter Clark offers examples from the tradition of short-form writing to help writers produce well-crafted prose with a limited word count.

    ISBN: 
    9780316204323
  • Imagine This: Creating the Work You Love

    by
    Maxine Clair
    Published in 2014
    by Agate Bolden

    Through personal stories, award-winning author Maxine Clair offers insight into the creative process, how to find your creative outlet, and how to trust moments of inspiration. 

    ISBN: 
    9781932841831
  • Creativity: The Perfect Crime

    by
    Philippe Petit
    Published in 2014
    by Riverhead Books

    Author and high-wire artist Philippe Petit, best known for his walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1974, shares his unconventional strategies and methods of practicing, problem-solving, and perfecting his craft. The ideas offered can be applied to various creative outlets including writing, music, and dance.

    ISBN: 
    9781594631689
  • The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within

    by
    Stephen Fry
    Published in 2007
    by Gotham Books

    Actor and writer Stephen Fry invites reluctant and aspiring poets to discover writing poetry for pleasure and provides insights, exercises, and simple step-by-step advice.

    ISBN: 
    9781592403110
  • Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School

    by
    Alexander Steele
    Published in 2003
    by Bloomsbury USA

    Techniques taught by the renowned Gotham Writers' Workshop were compiled by the school's president, Alexander Steele. Included are explanations of the fundamental elements of fiction, writing exercises, and the complete text of Raymond Carver's short story Cathedral.

    ISBN: 
    9781582343303
  • Your Life Is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir

    by
    Brenda Peterson & Sarah Jane Freymann
    Published in 2014
    by Sasquatch Books

    Memoirist Brenda Peterson and literary agent Sarah Jane Freymann offer advice on crafting a memoir culled from decades of experience. Also included are writing exercises, interviews with publishing experts, and information about indie publishing.

    ISBN: 
    9781570619304
  • Kicking in the Wall

    by
    Barbara Abercrombie
    Published in 2013
    by New World Library

    Author and writing instructor Barbara Abercrombie provides a year's worth of writing exercises and prompts, as well as inspiring quotes and examples, to help writers break through the blocks that impede their writing progress.

    ISBN: 
    9781608681563
  • The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

    by
    Steven Pinker
    Published in 2014
    by Viking

    As a professor of psychology at Harvard University, Steven Pinker approaches the English language from a scientific perspective. In The Sense of Style he provides examples, evidence, and reasoning to help writers apply the guidelines of usage judiciously and to craft clear, concise prose.

    ISBN: 
    9780670025855
  • A Writer's Diary

    by
    Virginia Woolf
    Published in 2003
    by Mariner Books

    A Writer's Diary contains entries culled from Virginia Woolf's personal records, which she kept over a span of twenty-seven years. Included are writing exercises, notes on books she was reading, and accounts of people and scenes relevant to what she was writing at the time.

    ISBN: 
    9780156027915
  • The Copyright Book: A Practical Guide

    by
    William S. Strong
    Published in 2014
    by MIT Press

    Written for nonlawyers, The Copyright Book offers essential information for authors (and creative people in every medium) on the fundamentals of copyright law. The sixth edition has been updated to cover issues that have arisen in the Internet age, including e-reserves, the status of "orphan works," and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    ISBN: 
    9780262027397
  • The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life

    by
    Julia Cameron
    Published in 1999
    by Tarcher

    In The Right to Write, journalist and author Julia Cameron discusses the importance of "creative unblocking." The book offers advice on how to make writing a joyful and cathartic process, as well as examples from her life life as a writer.

    ISBN: 
    9781585420093
  • A Poet's Glossary

    by
    Edward Hirsch
    Published in 2014
    by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Award-winning poet Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary examines the poetic traditions of the world while providing definitions for important poetic vocabulary, including forms, devices, movements, and rhetorical terms.

    ISBN: 
    9780151011957
  • Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

    by
    Austin Kleon
    Published in 2012
    by Workman Publishing Company

    Sparked by a speech he gave to a group of college students in upstate New York, writer and illustrator Austin Kleon shares the ten things he wishes some told him when he was young through illustrations, exercises, and examples.

    ISBN: 
    9780761169253
  • Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction

    by
    John Casey
    Published in 2014
    by W. W. Norton

    Award-winning novelist John Casey's Beyond the First Draft is a collection of essays that address various topics of concern to fiction writers, including comedy, point of view, structure, and scene-setting. For example, in "Dogma and Anti-Dogma," Casey examines the advice of authors—like J.D. Salinger's "Write for yourself"—and offers ways to interpret their reccomendations.

    ISBN: 
    978033241082
  • Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do

    by
    Meredith Maran
    Published in 2013
    by Plume

    Why We Write is a collection of tips, tricks, and secrets from twenty acclaimed American authors on how to lead a successful writing life. The book was compiled and edited by Meredith Maran, and includes contributions from authors such as Ann Patchett, Jodi Picoult, and Jennifer Egan.

    ISBN: 
    978045228156
  • The Wisdom of the Heart

    by
    Henry Miller
    by New Directions Publishing

    "The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. In this state of god-like awareness one sings; in this realm the world exists as a poem." A collection of stories and essays by Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart offers musings on philosophy and writing.

    ISBN: 
    9780811201163
  • Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

    by
    Dani Shapiro
    Published in 2013
    by Atlantic Monthly Press

    In Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, novelist and memoirist Dani Shapiro offers wisdom, insights, and practical lessons drawn from her twenty-year journey as a writer and teacher. "Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write." The book is a blend of personal stories, tales from other authors, and an examination of her own writing process.

    ISBN: 
    9780802121400
  • Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters

    by
    Robert Pinsky
    Published in 2013
    by W. W. Norton

    According to poet and editor Robert Pinsky, one learns to write poetry by first learning to read it. Divided into four sections—Freedom, Listening, Form, and Dreaming Things Up—Pinsky presents his mentors' work in Singing School to encourage the reader to take a practical approach, with informed pleasure and sharp interest in the craft.

    ISBN: 
    978033348972
  • About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews

    by
    Samuel R. Delany
    Published in 2006
    by Wesleyan University Press

    Samuel R. Delany's book About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews examines the condition of the contemporary creative writer. The award-winning novelist and Grand Master of Science Fiction also offers tips on specifics such as when to use flashbacks, along with advice on employing general elements of structure and style.

    ISBN: 
    9780819567161
  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

    by
    John Gardner
    Published in 1991
    by Vintage

    The Art of Fiction is a practical, instructive handbook based on novelist John Gardner's seminars on the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner employs detailed examples from classic works of literature and covers a range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence.

    ISBN: 
    9780679734031
  • Writing Wild

    by
    Tina Welling
    Published in 2014
    by New World Library

    In Writing Wild, Tina Welling details a three-step "Spirit Walk" process for inviting nature to enliven and inspire our creativity. Welling suggests we form a creative parntnership with nature, because "everything we know about creating we know intuitively from the natural world."

    ISBN: 
    9781608682887

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