The Writer’s Bookshelf

Books for writers I recommend.

 On writing and creativity in general:

  • Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
  • The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
  • Mystery and Manners, Flannery O’Connor
  • The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers, Betsy Lerner
  • Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
  • The Artists Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron
  • The Practical Writer: From Inspiration to Publication, edited by Therese Eiben and Mary Gannon with the staff of Poets & Writers Magazine

On writing fiction in particular:

  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  • Conversations with Larry Brown, Jay Watson, ed.
  • From Where You Dream, Robert Olen Butler
  • Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, Janet Burroway
  • The Plot Thickess: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, Noah Lukeman
  • Building Fiction, Jesse Lee Kercheval (out of print, but worth looking for)
  • Write Now! Fiction Writing Assignments From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers, edited by Sherry Ellis
  • Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes, Robera Allen
  • What If?, Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
  • Turning Life into Fiction, Robin Hemley
  • The Writing Room, Eve Shelnutt
  • On Becoming a Novelist, John Gardner
  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, John Gardner
  • Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course, Jerry Cleaver
  • How to Grow a Novel, Sol Stein
  • The Lie That Tells the Truth, John Dufresne
  • The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, Noah Lukeman

On writing poetry:

  • A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver
  • The Poets Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, Kim Addonizio and Doris Laux
  • The Palm of Your Hand: A Poet’s Portable Workshop, Steve Kowit
  • A Poet’s Guide to Poetry, Mary Kinzie
  • The Practice of Poetry, Robin Behn and Chase Twichell, editors
  • Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Forms, Miller Williams
  • Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse, Mary Oliver
  • Important Words: A Book for Poets and Writers, Bill Brown and Malcolm Glass

On creative nonfiction:

  • Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, William Zinsser, ed.
  • Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction, Kristen Iversen
  • A Childhood: Biography of a Place, Harry Crews
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: Instruction and Insights from the Teachers of the Associated Writing Programs, Carolyn Fourche and Philip Gerard, eds.

On grammar and style:

  • The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
  • Woe is I, Patricia T. O’Conner
  • The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed, Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss