Best Books for Writers

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

  • 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
  • Things I Don't Want to Know: On Writing

    by
    Deborah Levy
    Published in 2014
    by Bloomsbury

    Author Deborah Levy responds to George Orwell's classic 1946 treatise "Why I Write" from a female writer's perspective. Levy includes personal history and discusses how her experiences have shaped her novels.

    ISBN: 
    9781620405659
  • A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic

    by
    Peter Turchi
    Published in 2014
    by Trinity University Press

    In the follow-up to Maps of the Imagination: Writer as Cartographer, Peter Turchi presents the similarities between writing and puzzle-making, as well as puzzle-solving.

    ISBN: 
    9781595341938
  • The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity

    by
    Louise DeSalvo
    Published in 2014
    by St. Martin's Press

    Award-winning teacher and writer Louise DeSalvo offers advice on how to explore the complexities of craft by getting to know your stories, and yourself, more fully over a longer period of time. Included are anecdotes from writers such as John Steinbeck, Junot Díaz, and Salman Rushdie.

    ISBN: 
    9781250051035
  • The World Split Open: Great Authors on How and Why We Write

    by
    Literary Arts
    Published in 2014
    by Tin House Books

    Tin House Books has compiled an anthology of speeches made by renowned authors and storytellers from the lecture series at Literary Arts, which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. Featured writers include Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, and Wallace Stegner.

    ISBN: 
    9781935639961
  • The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art

    by
    Joyce Carol Oates
    Published in 2003
    by Ecco

    Award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates answers essential questions about narrative craft, and provides valuable lessons on how language, ideas, and experience come together to create a work of art.

    ISBN: 
    780060565541
  • 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

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