Best Books for Writers

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

  • Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry

    by
    Stephen Corey and Warren Slesinger
    Published in 2001
    by The Bench Press

    The editors of twenty literary magazines discuss the philosophy and practice of selecting poems.

    ISBN: 
    0930769155
  • Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse

    by
    John Hollander
    Published in 2001
    by Yale University Press

    Poet and critic John Hollander surveys the schemes, patterns, and forms of English verse, illustrating each variation with an original and witty, self-descriptive example.

    ISBN: 
    0300088329
  • The Forest for the Trees (Revised and Updated): An Editor's Advice to Writers

    by
    Betsy Lerner
    Published in 2010
    by Riverhead Books

    Originally published in 2000, this updated guide includes information about electronic etiquette, book promotion via social media platforms, and the current publishing economy. Lerner, who began her career as an editor, is a partner in the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Agency in New York City.

    ISBN: 
    159448483X
  • On Teaching and Writing Fiction

    by
    Wallace Stegner
    Published in 2002
    by Penguin

    Editor Lynn Stegner brings together eight of Wallace Stegner's previously uncollected essays on writing fiction and teaching creative writing. Stegner addresses every aspect of fiction writing, from the writer's vision to his or her audience, from the use of symbolism to swear words, from the mystery of the creative process to the recognizable truth it seeks finally to reveal.

    ISBN: 
    0142001473
  • The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide

    by
    Robert Pinsky
    Published in 1999
    by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

    "Poetry is a vocal, which is to say a bodily, art," Robert Pinsky declares in The Sounds of Poetry. "The medium of poetry is the human body: the column of air inside the chest, shaped into signifying sounds in the larynx and the mouth. In this sense, poetry is as physical or bodily an art as dancing." In this book, the former poet laureate explains how poets use the "technology" of poetry (its sounds) to create works of art that are "performed" in us when we read them aloud.

    ISBN: 
    0374526176
  • Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within

    by
    Kim Addonizio
    Published in 2009
    by W. W. Norton

    "Poetry is not a means to an end," Addonizio maintains, "but a continuing engagement with being alive." Her generous guide is for beginners and experienced poets, for groups and in the classroom—indeed for anyone eager to glimpse the angel of poetry.

    ISBN: 
    0393334163
  • Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir

    by
    William Zinsser
    Published in 1998
    by Mariner Books

    Anyone undertaking the project of writing a memoir knows that the events, memories, and emotions of the past often resist the orderly structure of a book. Inventing the Truth offers wisdom from nine notable memoirists about their process (Ian Frazier searched through generations of family papers to understand his parents' lives), the hurdles they faced (Annie Dillard tackles the central dilemma of memoir: what to put in and what to leave out), and the unexpected joys of bringing their pasts to the page.

    ISBN: 
    0395901502
  • Aspects of the Novel

    by
    E. M. Forster
    Published in 1956
    by Mariner Books

    In Aspects of the Novel, E. M. Forster delves into the seven elements essential to a novel: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.

    ISBN: 
    9780156091800
  • Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse

    by
    Mary Oliver
    Published in 1998
    by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    "True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance," wrote Alexander Pope. "The dance," in the case of Oliver's brief and luminous book, refers to the interwoven pleasures of sound and sense to be found in some of the most celebrated and beautiful poems in the English language, from Shakespeare to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Robert Frost. With a poet's ear and a poet's grace of expression, Oliver shows what makes a metrical poem work, and enables readers, as only she can, to "enter the thudding deeps and the rippling shallows of sound-pleasure and rhythm-pleasure that intensify both the poem's narrative and its ideas."

    ISBN: 
    9780395850862
  • Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir

    by
    Beth Kephart
    Published in 2013
    by Gotham

    Author Beth Kephart explores the many personal and professional challenges of writing memoir. From remaining faithful to the searing language of truth, to navigating the thin line between remembering and imagining, the author offers practical advice for memoirists who seek wisdom regarding the craft as well as their legal rights.

    ISBN: 
    9781592408153
  • Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction

    by
    Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd
    Published in 2013
    by Random House

    This informative and instructive guide examines the three major incarnations of nonfiction: essays, memoirs, and narratives. By offering insightful analysis and expert advice, this entertaining and practical guide to writing nonfiction is ideal for both seasoned and beginner writers.

    ISBN: 
    1400069750
  • First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process

    by
    Robert D. Richardson
    Published in 2009
    by University of Iowa Press

    In this insightful resource for writers, author Robert D. Richardson explores the acclaimed poet Ralph Waldo Emerson’s literary accomplishments, creative processes, and writing advice.

    ISBN: 
    9781587297939
  • It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences

    by
    June Casagrande
    Published in 2010
    by Ten Speed Press

    Journalist and editor June Casagrande breaks down the semantics of sentences, and explains how words and grammatical constructions relate to each other in logical and artful ways. A meticulous examination of sentence structure, content, and style reveals the building blocks of successful sentences, and how writers can apply this knowledge to their own work.

    ISBN: 
    158008740X
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

    by
    Renni Browne and Dave King
    Published in 1994
    by Harpercollins

    In this guide to self-editing, professional editors Renni Browne and Dave King share their combined expertise by offering practical techniques and advice for polishing prose and turning manuscripts into published works of fiction.

    ISBN: 
    9780062720467
  • Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose

    by
    Constance Hale
    Published in 2001
    by Broadway Books

    Author Constance Hale describes how to create clear, concise, and dynamic writing by focusing on the essential aspects of grammar such as adjectives, nouns, and implementing stylistic techniques that leverage sentence structure, voice, and rhythm.

    ISBN: 
    0767903080
  • Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You

    by
    Ray Bradbury
    Published in 1992
    by Bantam

    Renowned author Ray Bradbury shares the wisdom, experience, and excitement from his lifetime of writing and demonstrates that success as a writer depends on how well you know one subject: your own life.

    ISBN: 
    9780553296341
  • Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

    by
    Roy Peter Clark
    Published in 2008
    by Little, Brown

    The author provides fifty practical literary tools that can be used to sharpen writing skills and develop natural talents. These easy-to-remember tips can be applied to various forms of writing from fiction and nonfiction compositions to business reports and even love letters.

    ISBN: 
    9780316014991
  • The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop

    by
    Diane Lockward
    Published in 2013
    by Wind Publications

    In this resource for poets, Lockward offers practical advice and insights about establishing sound, voice, and syntax in poetry while also providing writing prompts and other poems as inspiration.

    ISBN: 
    193613862X
  • The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself

    by
    Susan Bell
    Published in 2007
    by W.W. Norton

    In this resource, the author provides a guide filled with writing examples, strategic tips, exercises, and interviews that explore the complex and necessary art of self-editing.

    ISBN: 
    9780393332179

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