Best Books List: Writing

I’m on a roll here with the blog. I have been meaning to “complete” the lists of Best Books for years, and I am almost there! I have two more lists left (religion and plays), but they are in sight, during this stay-at-home order. I am an avid list maker, and I will admit that I enjoy making these book lists. I am going to miss doing it, but I rarely have the time, anyhow. Perhaps I’ll find something else to list on the blog. Plus, I’ll have many years of checking things OFF the list ahead of me. Fun times.

So, here is the list of best books on writing and best books for writers. I felt like this list could have gone on another hundred books or more, but I tried to limit it. Turns out, there are plenty of other writers and readers who have an obsession with lists, too, so it wasn’t too hard to come by suggestions for best books on writing. This is, perhaps, the area in which I am most likely to accept mediocre books, only because I feel like I can learn and become better even from those. But I do really enjoy a great writing book, one that is not only informative and a catalyst for change, but also one that is beautiful and full of stories. To date, my favorite is the essential On Writing, by Stephen King.

When I was younger and therefore stupider, I believed that educating in the arts was just a way to stomp out the authenticity. I avoided learning anything in the arts, including writing, because of some voice that was telling me it can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t. Consequently, I wasted a lot of my formative years avoiding that which could have made me a better musician, painter, and writer. (For some reason, I never believed this about cooking and have self-educated for many years.) There are so many things you can learn about craft and so many tools that you can put into your artist tool belt. You can improve, you can get better, you can learn how to function in the world of art. You can link elbows with other writers. You can learn what and how and when and why, and it doesn’t just have to be by the osmosis of reading thoroughly (though I do recommend that, as well). You can educate yourself about writing and become a better writer. See below.

Once again, I am not bothering with italicizing titles because nobody got time for that. I fully expect there are spelling errors, as well, possibly gratuitous ones.

  • ON WRITINGOn Writing, Stephen King
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Browne and King
  • Zen in the Art or Writing, Ray Bradbury
  • Publish. Repeat., Platt and Truant
  • Indie Author Survival Guide, Susan Kaye Quinn
  • Story Genius, Lisa Cron
  • Steering the Craft, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler
  • The Creative Tarot, Jessa Crispin
  • Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon
  • Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
  • Writer’s Market, Robert Lee BrewerBIRD BY BIRD
  • On Writing Well, Willian Zinsser
  • The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
  • The Associated Press Stylebook
  • How to Write Bestselling Fiction, Dean Koontz
  • Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
  • Plot & Structure, James Scott Bell
  • The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
  • The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron
  • Word Work, Bruce Holland Rogers
  • A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, Jordan Rosenfield
  • War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  • The Writing Life, Marie Arana
  • Art & Fear, Bayles and Orlando
  • The Sense of Style, Steven Pinker
  • The Lonely Voice, Frank O’Connor
  • Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, Helen SedwickLONELY VOICE
  • How to Make a Living with Your Writing, Joanna Penn
  • Writer for Hire, Kelly James-Enger
  • Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer, Nicole Dieker
  • Scratch, Mandula Martin
  • Everybody Writes, Ann Handley
  • Letters to a Young Writer, Colum McCann
  • Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster
  • Burning Down the House, Charles Baxter
  • To Show and to Tell, Phillip Lopate
  • The Situation and the Story, Vivian Gornick
  • What the Living Do, Marie Howe
  • Pity the Reader, Kurt Vonegut
  • Woman Writer, Joyce Carol Oates
  • Wild Words, Nicole Gulotta
  • Murder Your Darlings, Roy Peter ClarkMURDER YOUR DARLINGS
  • How to Grow a Novel, Sol Stein
  • The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr
  • Why Writing Matters, Nicholas Delbanco
  • Tell It Slant, Miller and Paola
  • The Poets and Writers Complete Guide to Being a Writer
  • Everybody Writes, Anne Handley
  • The Road, Jack Kerouc
  • Daily Rituals, Mason Currey
  • The Last Draft, Sandra Scofield
  • The Forest for the Trees, Betsy Lerner
  • Story Engineering, Larry Brooks
  • On Writing, Charles Bukowski
  • The Sense of Style, Steven PinkerSENSE OF STYLE
  • Nobody Want to Read Your Sh*t, Steven Pressfield
  • A House of My Own, Sandra Cisneros
  • A Little Book on Form, Robert Haas
  • A Personal Anthology, Jorge Luis Borges
  • A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
  • About Writing, Samuel R. Delany
  • The Anatomy of Story, John Truby
  • The Art of Death, Edwidge Danticat
  • The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  • Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Black Milk, Elif Shafak
  • Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country, Louise ErdrichBOOKS AND ISLANDS IN OJIBWE COUNTRY
  • Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, Bill Bryson
  • Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches, Jessica Morell
  • Crazy Brave, Joy Harjo
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
  • The Emotional Craft of Fiction, Donald Maas
  • The First Five Pages, Noah Lukeman
  • The Forest for the Trees, Betsy Lerner
  • Free Within Ourselves, Parker Rhodes
  • Getting Into Character, Brandilynn Collins
  • The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou
  • If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
  • Immersion, Ted ConoverIN OTHER WORDS
  • In Other Words, Jhumpa Lahiri
  • In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, Alice Walker
  • It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences, June Casagrande
  • The Kick-Ass Writer, Chuck Wendig
  • The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, New York Writers Workshop
  • The Poetry Home Repair Manual, Ted Kooser
  • The Poet’s Companion, Addonizio and Laux
  • The Paris Review Interviews, 1-4
  • Outlining Your Novel, K.M. Weiland
  • One Continuous Mistake, Gail SherONE CONTINUOUS MISTAKE
  • On Writing, Eudora Welty
  • Negotiating with the Dead, Margaret Atwood
  • Naked, Drunk and Writing, Adair Lara
  • The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop, Stephen Koch
  • Memoirs, Pablo Neruda
  • Making a Good Script, Linda Seger
  • The Magic Words, Cheryl Klein
  • The Lie That Tells a Truth, John Dufresne
  • The Language of Fiction, Brian Shawver

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