Best Books for Writers

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

  • You Can't Make This Stuff Up

    by
    Lee Gutkind
    Published in 2012
    by Da Capo Press

    In this comprehensive how-to guide for the genre, Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction magazine, provides insights on writing creative nonfiction--from memoir to literary journalism and everything in between, including chapters on point of view, narrative, research, structure, and more.

    ISBN: 
    9780738215549
  • Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century

    by
    John B. Thompson
    Published in 2010
    by Polity Press

    John B. Thompson presents an accessible overview of the book publishing business—from the changes in agenting to the conglomeration of publishing houses to the growth of the retail chains to the digital revolution. This book provides writers with an in-depth understanding of publishing's ecosystem, providing them with the background they need before taking their manuscript to market.

    ISBN: 
    9780745647869
  • On Looking: Essays

    by
    Lia Purpura
    Published in 2006
    by Sarabande Books

    In this collection of essays, poet Lia Purpura explores the act of observation as it relates the to the writer's endeavor. Purpura is an award-winning writer who teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Tacoma, Washington.

    ISBN: 
    9781932511390
  • A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement

    by
    Barbara Abercrombie
    Published in 2012
    by New World Library

    Novelist and essayist Barbara Abercrombie offers a collection of wide-ranging anecdotes, lessons, and prompts for beginning and veteran writers. A Year of Writing Dangerously devotes sections to writerly topics such as "failing better," mentorship, and keeping faith, and pairs each lesson with a quotation from a famous writer.

    ISBN: 
    1608680517
  • The Conde Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys: Great Writers on Great Places

    by
    Klara Glowczewska, editor
    Published in 2007
    by Penguin Books

    This volume of travel writing contains twenty-one pieces pairing well known writers with their favorite exotic locales. Russell Banks writes on the Everglades, Francine Prose explores the secrets of Prague, Robert Hughes takes us on a tour of Italy, and more. The collection also includes practical advice and insider travel tips on the featured locations.

    ISBN: 
    0143112619
  • A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960-1980

    by
    Steven Clay and Rodney Phillips, editors
    Published in 1998
    by Granary Books

    Published in partnership with the New York Public Library and based on an exhibit that originally appeared there, this guide offers a comprehensive but idiosyncratic look at the small press publishing scene in San Francisco and in downtown Manhattan during the 1960s and '70s. It includes a timeline and over two hundred images from one of the richest periods of American writing and publishing. 

    ISBN: 
    9781887123198
  • The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers

    by
    Vendela Vida, editor
    Published in 2008
    by McSweeney's

    This collection features twenty-three conversations between writers such as Tayari Jones and Chris Abani, Jonathan Lethem and Paul Auster, Ben Ehrenreich and John Banville, and Vendela Vida and Jennifer Egan, whose discussions range well beyond writing and craft, offering insight into the author's perspective of the world.  

    ISBN: 
    9781932416947
  • The Life of Poetry

    by
    Muriel Rukeyser
    Published in 1996
    by Paris Press

    In this American classic, with a foreword by poet Jane Cooper, Muriel Rukeyser explores the promise of poetry as an art form that can help us shape a civil society. 

    ISBN: 
    0963818333
  • Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry

    by
    Reginald Shepherd
    Published in 2007
    by University of Michigan

    The late poet and editor Reginald Shepherd explores the transformative power of poetry in a selection of autobiographical essays and those that focus on the work of other writers, including Alvin Feinman, Jorie Graham, Samuel R. Delany, and Linda Gregg. 

    ISBN: 
    9780472099986
  • Keep Calm and Query On: Notes on Writing (and Living) With Hope

    by
    Luke Reynolds
    Published in 2012
    by Divertir Publishing

    Author Luke Reynolds reflects on forging his own writing life and interviews fourteen other authors—including Jane Smiley, Daniel Handler, Robert Pinsky, George Saunders, Lindsey Collen, and David Wroblewski—about their worst rejections, their first publications, what keeps them motivated, and why they believe in the power of words.

    ISBN: 
    9780984293070
  • The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer

    by
    Sandra Scofield
    Published in 2007
    by Penguin

    In this practical guide, National Book Award–nominee Sandra Scofield offers straightforward information and exercises designed to help writers write strong scenes in fiction.

    ISBN: 
    9780143038269
  • Poet’s Choice

    by
    Edward Hirsch
    Published in 2006
    by Harcourt

    Drawn from poet Ed Hirsch's Washington Post Book World column "Poet's Choice," this collection features classic and contemporary poems with essays by Hirsch about the poems and their various forms.

    ISBN: 
    9780156032674
  • Ron Carlson Writes a Story

    by
    Ron Carlson
    Published in 2007
    by Graywolf Press

    In this guide to writing a short story, acclaimed fiction writer Ron Carlson, who is also director of the graduate program in fiction at the University of California, Irvine, invites readers to join him in the process of crafting his story "The Governer's Ball."

    ISBN: 
    9781555974770
  • The Art of the Poetic Line

    by
    James Logenbach
    Published in 2007
    by Graywolf Press

    In this writing guide, poet James Logenbach explores the qualities that define the poetic line and uses examples of its use in the writing of poets such as Frank Bidart, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and C. D. Wright.

    ISBN: 
    9781555974886
  • New Tax Guide for Writers, Artists, Performers, and Other Creative People

    by
    Peter Jason Riley
    Published in 2012
    by Focus Publishing

    Written by certified public accountant Peter J. Riley, this practical guide—including tips, worksheets, tax forms, and other information—gives writers and artists an overall understanding of the best strategies for collecting data throughout the year in preparation for tax filing.

    ISBN: 
    9781585104697
  • A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism and Travel

    by
    Robin Hemley
    Published in 2012
    by University of Georgia Press

    Robin Hemley examines memoir, journalism, and travel writing as categories of immersion writing and further breaks them down—into the quest, the experiment, the investigation, the infiltration, and the reenactment—in order to define the way writers approach their relationship to their subjects. The book includes helpful exercises, as well as addressing the ethics and legalities of writing about other people.

    ISBN: 
    9780820342559
  • To Sound Like Yourself: Essays on Poetry

    by
    W. D. Snodgrass
    Published in 2002
    by BOA Editions

    In this collection of essays, Pulitzer Prize–winning author W. D. Snodgrass—who was central to the rise of confessional poetry in the United States during the 1960s—meditates on the importance of voice in a poet's work.

    ISBN: 
    1929918186
  • Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching

    by
    Carol Smallwood, Colleen S. Harris, and Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, Editors
    Published in 2012
    by McFarland & Company

    In this collection of essays, fifty-nine women poets offer far-ranging guidance and advice on everything from revision, chapbooks, daily practice, writing conferences, publishing, and writing about the unspeakable. Aimed at emerging and established poets alike, the book is arranged in four themed sections and includes a foreword by poet Molly Peacock.

    ISBN: 
    9780786463923
  • A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics

    by
    CAConrad
    Published in 2012
    by Wave Books

    "I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever increasing brutality, has required me to FIND MY BODY to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry," begins CAConrad in this collection of unorthodox writing exercises meant to upset our perception of everyday life. The poet also includes poems that resulted from the writing exercises featured.

    ISBN: 
    9781933517599
  • The Made-Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay

    by
    Carl H. Klaus
    Published in 2010
    by University of Iowa Press

    In this book-length study of the personal essay, Carl Klaus unpacks the made-up self and the manifold ways in which a wide range of essayists and essays have brought it to life. By reconceiving the most fundamental aspect of the personal essay—the I of the essayist—Klaus demonstrates that this seemingly uncontrived form of writing is inherently problematic, not willfully devious but bordering upon the world of fiction.

    ISBN: 
    1587299135
  • 19th Century American Writers on Writing

    by
    Brenda Wineapple, Editor
    Published in 2011
    by Trinity University Press

    This anthology of essays, letters, poems, prose, and excerpts of interviews by fifty-seven authors of the 19th century—including Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Walt Whitman—offers insight into what it means to be a writer within the context of history, as well as classic guidance about craft, style, and form. 

    ISBN: 
    9781595340696
  • ABC of Reading

    by
    Ezra Pound, introduction by Michael Dirda
    Published in 2010
    by New Directions

    Originally published in 1934, Pound's book serves as a guide for those interested in honing their critical thinking through reading the classics. The book is based on the premise that to be a good writer one must be a good reader, aware of the traditions out of which the best literature has emerged.

    ISBN: 
    9780811218931

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