The 15 Books Every Writer Should Own

Take it from the girl that has five overflowing bookshelves (not counting the ones in my office or the boxes stashed away in friends’ and family members’ basements): You can never have too many books. But if you are an aspiring writer, or even a seasoned one, there are 15 must-have books that will help you take your craft to the next level. Check out the list below, and add your favorites in the comments section.


1. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

This is the go-to dictionary for the publishing world.

2. The Chicago Manual of Style

I also recommend a subscription to the Chicago Manual of Style online edition:

3. Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style

This little book can answer a lot of big questions.

Editor Tips

4. The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner

What your editor has always wanted to tell you.

5. Editors on Editing by Gerald C. Gross

An inside look at the editing world.

6. The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller

A classic from a Chicago Manual of Style pro.

Learn the Basics

7. On Writing Well by William Zinsser

This title tackles writings of all genres, from day-to-day business writing to the art of the memoir.

8. Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

All the tools you’ll need to grow in your writing.

The Life of a Writer

9. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

I first read this in a high school English class. It’s stayed with me ever since.

10. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

A true testament to the life of an author.

11. Soul at the White Heat by Joyce Carol Oates

The subtitle says it all: “Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life.”

What the Professionals Have to Say

12. Stephen King On Writing

Hear it from the master.

13. Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times

The author’s companion to Editors on Editing.

Get Inspired

14. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The ultimate guide for creativity.

15. 300 Writing Prompts

This was a Christmas gift to cure my writer’s block, and boy did it work!

2 thoughts on “The 15 Books Every Writer Should Own

  1. Jennifer Rumberger says:

    Great list! Two others I would recommend are Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl Klein and Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine. The second one is geared more toward younger writers, but I still found it very helpful, especially the writing prompts.

    Liked by 1 person

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