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: www.chicagomanualofstyle.org
3. Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style
This little book can answer a lot of big questions.
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
Hear it from the master.
13. Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times
The author’s companion to Editors on Editing.
14. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
The ultimate guide for creativity.
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”
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.
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