Best Books for Writers

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

  • The Art of Attention: A Poet's Eye

    by
    Donald Revell
    Published in 2007
    by Graywolf Press

    ​​​"It is the intimacy of poetry that makes our art such a beautiful recourse," Donald Revell states in The Art of Attention. Drawing upon writers such as Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Ann Lauterbach, and Denise Levertov, Revell presents a case for the transcendent possibilities of poetry, and guides readers to an understanding of the links between the creative reading and creative writing processes.

    ISBN: 
    9781555974749
  • The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction: Building Blocks

    by
    Susan Burmeister-Brown and Linda B. Swanson-Davies
    Published in 2006
    by Writer's Digest Books

    The first volume of the Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction series collects excerpts from over a hundred interviews by authors including ​​Sandra Cisneros, Jamaica Kincaid, and Tobias Wolff.​ In short passages, writers share their thoughts on topics such as plot, theme, and dialogue, all conveniently divided by chapters.

    ISBN: 
    9781582974460
  • ​The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction

    by
    ​Stephen Koch
    Published in 2003
    by Modern Library

    Stephen Koch, former chair of Columbia University’s graduate creative writing program, presents indispensable advice covering all the basics of craft in this comprehensive volume. Starting from the moment of inspiration, to writing a first draft, to techniques for character development and plot, this book offers insight and guidance for writers at every stage.

    ISBN: 
    9780375755583
  • ​The Eleventh Draft: ​Craft and the Writing Life from the Iowa Writers' Workshop

    by
    Frank Conroy
    Published in 1999
    by William Morrow

    In this wide-ranging anthology of essays, former Iowa Writers' Workshop director Frank Conroy has compiled twenty-three pieces written by faculty about the craft of writing. Authors such as Deborah Eisenberg, Francine Prose, and Abraham Verghese share their insights and tips on the writing and revision processes.

    ISBN: 
    9780062736390
  • ​The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. 1

    by
    The Paris Review
    Published in 2006
    by Picador

    For more than fifty years, the Paris Review has conducted interviews with some of the world's most notable writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. This first volume collects sixteen interviews which are full of insight about the writing lives of authors such as Elizabeth Bishop, Ernest Hemingway, and Rebecca West.

    ISBN: 
    9780312361754
  • Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art

    by
    Judith Barrington
    Published in 2002
    by Eight Mountain Press

    Teacher and memoirist Judith Barrington offers practical advice drawn from years of personal experience on how to overcome difficulties, and take risks when writing your own memoir. The guide covers everything from questions about truth and ethics to craft, and each chapter concludes with writing exercises.

    ISBN: 
    9780933377509
  • In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop

    by
    Steve Kowit
    Published in 1995
    by Tilbury House

    Poet and teacher Steve Kowit provides guidance for aspiring poets on crafting modern poetry, as well as for more practiced poets looking to hone their technical skills. The book reads like a lecture with more than a hundred poems and excerpts to illustrate his discussions.

    ISBN: 
    9780884481492
  • The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

    by
    Vivian Gornick
    Published in 2002
    by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

    Vivian Gornick presents readers with examples of some of the best essays and memoirs of the past century, analyzing how the idea of the self has changed. Gornick explores the truth speaker in works by Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, and Oscar Wilde, and discusses how to recognize truth in your own work.

    ISBN: 
    9780374528584
  • Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

    by
    Mary Norris
    Published in 2015
    by Norton

    Veteran “prose goddess” Mary Norris brings to the desk over three decades of experience in the New Yorker’s copy department. In her first book, Norris addresses the most common slipups in spelling, punctuation, and usage and provides anecdotal musings on the rules we write by, with examples from Moby-Dick to The Simpsons.

    ISBN: 
    9780393240184
  • Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language

    by
    Clive James
    Published in 2015
    by Liveright

    Clive James examines the poems and legacies of twentieth-century poets, from Hart Crane to Ezra Pound, and offers guidance on how to read and appreciate modern poetry. James also discusses his favorites (Yeats, Frost, Auden, Wilbur, and Larkin) and champions the opinion that poetry is for everyone, not just poets.

    ISBN: 
    9781631490279
  • That Should Be a Word

    by
    Lizzie Skurnick
    Published in 2015
    by Workman Publishing

    This book collects 244 of the wordplays and neologisms featured in Lizzie Skurnick's "That Should Be a Word" column in the New York Times Magazine. The terms, including twiticule, to mock someone in 140 characters, and brattle, to discuss one's children at great length, poke fun at life in the twenty-first century.

    ISBN: 
    9780761182689
  • A Long High Whistle: Selected Columns on Poetry

    by
    David Biespiel
    Published in 2015
    by Antilever Press

    In this volume of collected essays, poet and critic David Biespiel offers profound and entertaining analyses of the mysteries of poetry and the role poetry plays in American life. Biespiel discusses the work of nearly one hundred poets from ancient times to the present, in English and in translation.

    ISBN: 
    9781938308109
  • Novel Writing: A Writers' and Artists' Companion

    by
    Romesh Gunesekera and A. L. Kennedy
    Published in 2015
    by Bloomsbury Academic

    The seventh in the Writers' and Artists' series of books on writing provides an introduction to the forms and history of the novel, and contains tips from authors including Louise Doughty, Jonathan Franzen, and Philip Pullman. The book offers practical advice on writing and editing your own novel, as well as how to find an agent and publisher.

    ISBN: 
    9781780937106
  • The Bloomsbury Introduction to Creative Writing

    by
    Tara Mokhtari
    Published in 2015
    by Bloomsbury

    This complete introductory manual for students of creative writing includes a structured series of practical exercises and a glossary of terms. Tips for writing cover genres such as memoir, short fiction, poetry, screenwriting, writing for performance, and writing for digital media.

    ISBN: 
    9781472578440
  • Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook

    by
    David Meltzer
    Published in 2015
    by City Lights Publishers

    Beat Generation poet David Meltzer offers short remarks, autobiographical anecdotes, and inspirational quotations to guide those looking to master the art of poetry. This reissue includes new material that considers the effect of technological developments since the book's original publication in 1977.

    ISBN: 
    9780872866508
  • One Day in the Life of the English Language: A Microcosmic Usage Handbook

    by
    Frank L. Cioffi
    Published in 2015
    by Princeton University Press

    Professor Frank L. Cioffi presents an "antihandbook handbook" using over three hundred sentences from newspaper and magazine articles from a single, typical day to exemplify grammar and usage rules. The book is divided into sections titled "Fundamentals," Fine Tuning," and "Deep Focus," for easy navigation.

    ISBN: 
    97806911691165073
  • A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write

    by
    Melissa Pritchard
    Published in 2015
    by Bellevue Literary Press

    Author Melissa Pritchard puts forth the question: "Why write?" Through fifteen inspiring essays, the book examines the power of language and the nurturing constancy of the writing life.

    ISBN: 
    9781934137963
  • Writing Short Stories: A Writers' & Artists' Companion

    by
    Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman
    Published in 2015
    by Bloomsbury

    Writers Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman offer an essential guide to writing short fiction successfully. The book explores the history of the form, how to get started with ideas and shape plots, as well as tips by leading short story writers. 

    ISBN: 
    9781408130803
  • Writing Alone and with Others

    by
    Pat Schneider
    Published in 2003
    by Oxford University Press

    Pat Schneider offers an in-depth description of the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method, and discusses various techniques for writing fiction and poetry. Schneider shares from her teaching experience the methods used in writing classes and community groups. 

    ISBN: 
    9780195165739
  • Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures

    by
    Mary Ruefle
    Published in 2012
    by Wave Books

    The lectures in this collection by poet Mary Ruefle were delivered to a group of poetry graduate students over the course of fifteen years. A finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, the lectures include "Poetry and the Moon," "Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World," and "Lectures I Will Never Give."

    ISBN: 
    9781933517575
  • How Fiction Works

    by
    James Wood
    Published in 2008
    by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

    What do we mean when we say we "know" a fictional character? When is a metaphor successful? Book critic and author James Wood addresses various techniques of storytelling and offers a study of the magic of fiction.

    ISBN: 
    9780312428471
  • Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry

    by
    Kenneth Koch
    Published in 1999
    by Touchstone

    The late prize-winning author Kenneth Koch muses on the nature of poetic inspiration, how poems are written and revised, and what happens in the mind while reading a poem. Koch also discusses over ninety works of poetry from poets such as Homer, Sappho, Federico García Lorca, Gary Snyder, and John Ashbery.

    ISBN: 
    9780684824383
  • If I Was You...: And Alot More Grammar Mistakes You Might Be Making

    by
    Lauren Sussman
    Published in 2014
    by Adams Media

    English professor Lauren Sussman provides the tools necessary to correct the common grammatical mistakes we all make. This handbook covers everything from verbs and pronouns to punctuation and sentence structure. 

    ISBN: 
    9781440584787
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

    by
    Lynne Truss
    Published in 2004
    by Gotham

    Author and former editor Lynne Truss emphasizes the importance of using semicolons, commas, and other punctuation properly. Truss's historical anecdotes and witty examples make learning these rules enjoyable.

    ISBN: 
    9781592400874

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