10 More of the Best Books on Writing

10 More of the Best Books on Writing

When we recommended a few great books for every writer’s bookshelf, readers responded with a few fantastic suggestions of their own.

Below we delve into Round Two of our essential books for writers, highlighting some reader-inspired suggestions to add to your list.

1. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The full title of this book is Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. It examines the craft of writing including how to start brainstorming, the importance of learning how to listen, the vital role verbs play in writing, and even how to find an inspiring place to write.

With chapter titles like “Fighting Tofu” and “Writing is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” you can be sure there will be witty observations throughout. Commenter Liz Adamshick says this favorite book provides “courage and liberation in the writing process.”

2. Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orlando

This book reflects on the artistic side of being a writer. Making art is no easy feat, and Bayles and Orlando — both artists themselves — explore the challenges of making art and the arious obstacles that can discourage people along the way.

Originally published in 1994, Art & Fear is now an underground classic, dishing out relatable, valuable advice.

3. Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer by Bruce Holland Rogers

Word Work is packed with practical advice for overcoming procrastination, finding happiness in writing, and even conquering writer’s block via useful exercises. It also covers how to handle rejection and success.

Commenter Rachel Nichols wrote, “It contains a lot of practical advice for writers that other sources usually don’t even touch on. Why it might be good to quit your day job sometimes, writing with a short attention span, overcoming writer’s block even if it doesn’t exist, and getting along with a non-writing spouse.”

4. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Aimed at fiction writers, this book tackles everything from models to help with story structure to a variety of techniques to help with crafting great stories from start to finish. You’ll even find tips on creating plotting diagrams. and tools to overcome various plot problems that can arise.

Commenter Pat Bowden found Plot & Structure so useful that, “I borrowed it from my local library twice before deciding to buy my own copy.”

5. A Writer’s Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld

This book focuses on how to be a happy and successful writer throughout your career. It covers everything from finding joy as a writer to avoiding burnout and the all-important challenge of balancing writing with a busy life.

It also discusses how to fine-tune your craft, get in touch with your creative flow, revise your work, find critiques, and learn how to be resilient. “It has great advice for how to create a writing career that lasts for the long haul,” commenter Leanne Sowul noted.

6. The Paris Review Interviews

The Paris Review offers in-depth interviews with some of the leading names in the literature world, from novelists to playwrights and poets.

This series of books features a collection of interviews with past and present writing superstars including Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Kurt Vonnegut, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Stephen King, and Salman Rushdie, among many other famous names.

7. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

This content-creation book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, drives home the point that anyone with a web site or social media channels is a writer.

It focuses on how to craft quality writing that boosts business and helps find and retain customers, including writing tips, content help, grammar rules, and more.

8. The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker offers a new take on some of the classic writing manuals. Inside The Sense of Style, he analyzes examples modern prose, pointing out fantastic writing and offering tips to spruce up lackluster work.

9. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, put together this book of essays portraying his passion for the craft.

Commenter Elizabeth Sancho noted the timeless appeal of the subject matter, saying, “This book I go back to time and again and am more inspired each time. I even use lots of the ideas for teaching my fourth grade class.”

10. The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story by Frank O’Connor

World-renowned Irish author Frank O’Connor takes on the short story in this favorite book on writing.

Short stories are challenging, but O’Connor shares tips and tactics for mastering the art of the short story that can help any writer begin to feel more confident about crafting their own works.

Which of these titles will you pick up next?

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  • Mason Emerson says:

    I have found that Algis Budrys’ WRITING TO THE POINT (http://wordfirepress.com/books/writing-to-the-point/), recently republished by Wordfire Press, is one of the absolute best texts on writing. I use it as the spine of my theory and practice. David Farland recommends it most highly in his book MILLION DOLLAR OUTLINES and in other places.

  • SarahGilbertWriter says:

    I just got The Lonely Voice. I don’t see the connection yet with the title and what the book says. Although I’m sure I will when I start reading. Since I am leaning toward short stories for young children, I have an idea The Lonely Voice will help get me going.

  • Jason Bougger says:

    Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell looks really good. I may have to check that one out.

    The best ones I’ve read that aren’t on this list are “Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft” by David Morrell and, of course, Stephen King’s book on writing, “On Writing.”

  • Jones Kerrin says:

    Starting to read Stephen King’s book “On Writing” 🙂 After this, I’m interested in Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

    • Jason Bougger says:

      The second half is fill with great tip and info. You can really see why some of King’s novels end the way they do and are so long. He makes it sound like he doesn’t usually have any type of ending in mind as he writes.

      • Jones Kerrin says:

        Can’t wait to get to the second part. Thanks for this! I was already wondering as I was only seeing his story (I’m still on the 1st part) 🙂

  • Eileen Dandashi says:

    If one has to read only one book every month, what do you suggest the order be? Thanks to the other commenters who suggest other important books to read for a writer.

  • Tina M Goodman says:

    The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
    The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
    Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield
    The Forest for The Trees by Betsey Lerner
    Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
    Conflict & Suspense by James Scott Bell
    The Language of Fiction by Brian Sawyer
    Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass
    Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
    The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams
    How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell

  • Interview iq says:

    Such an amazing collection of books and I will surely check them out to enhance my writing skills. Thanks for sharing ?

  • Gary Hurtubise says:

    Thanks for the list Kristen!

    I’d like to add a few of my own that have helped me along the way. First, I’m putting another plug in for Stephen King’s “On Writing” – quite frankly, it’s my favourite of his books! I was also helped along by Terry Brooks’s “Sometimes the Magic Works – lessons from a writing life”. It’s an interesting tale about how he essentially got his career off the ground by finding himself at the right place at the right time…

  • Bill Merklee says:

    “One Continuous Mistake” by Gail Sher for approaching writing like a Buddhist practice.

  • Alison says:

    I just read and loved William Zinsser’s On Writing Well (30th Anniversary Edition). It was packed full of useful advice for non-fiction writers with great examples to illustrate his points.

  • Ashri Mishra says:

    I read your blog. It’s very useful for me.