Best Books for Writers

From the newly published to the invaluable classic, our list of essential books for creative writers.

by Barbara Abercrombie

Published in 2013 by New World Library

Author and writing instructor Barbara Abercrombie provides a year's worth of writing exercises and prompts, as well as inspiring quotes and examples, to help writers break through the blocks that impede their writing progress.

by Steven Pinker

Published in 2014 by Viking

As a professor of psychology at Harvard University, Steven Pinker approaches the English language from a scientific perspective. In The Sense of Style he provides examples, evidence, and reasoning to help writers apply the guidelines of usage judiciously and to craft clear, concise prose.

by Virginia Woolf

Published in 2003 by Mariner Books

A Writer's Diary contains entries culled from Virginia Woolf's personal records, which she kept over a span of twenty-seven years. Included are writing excercises, notes on books she was reading, and accounts of people and scenes relevant to what she was writing at the time.

by Jack Woodville London

Published in 2014 by Vire Press

In A Novel Approach, Jack Woodville London offers advice to beginning and experienced writers on putting together the pieces that make up a well-crafted novel.

by N. M. Gwynne

Published in 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf

N. M. Gwynne's guide to writing is built around William Strunk's original 1918 essay on grammar, which E. B. White later expanded. Using an old-school approach, Gwynne instructs readers on how to put words together correctly.

by William S. Strong

Published in 2014 by MIT Press

Written for nonlawyers, The Copyright Book offers essential information for authors (and creative people in every medium) on the fundamentals of copyright law. The sixth edition has been updated to cover issues that have arisen in the Internet age, including e-reserves, the status of "orphan works," and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

by Julia Cameron

Published in 1999 by Tarcher

In The Right to Write, journalist and author Julia Cameron discusses the importance of "creative unblocking." The book offers advice on how to make writing a joyful and cathartic process, as well as examples from her life life as a writer.

by Edward Hirsch

Published in 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Award-winning poet Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary examines the poetic traditions of the world while providing definitions for important poetic vocabulary, including forms, devices, movements, and rhetorical terms.

by Austin Kleon

Published in 2012 by Workman Publishing Company

Sparked by a speech he gave to a group of college students in upstate New York, writer and illustrator Austin Kleon shares the ten things he wishes some told him when he was young through illustrations, exercises, and examples.

by Celia Blue Johnson

Published in 2013 by Perigee

In Odd Type Writers, Celia Blue Johnson explores the quirky writing habits of authors such as Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Virginia Woolf—who liked to use purple ink and, in her twenties, preferred to write while standing up.

Current Issue

Cover Story 

Our Independent Publishing Issue features an in-depth interview with Graywolf Press editor Jeff Shotts; a look at the successful partnerships of eleven small-press authors and their editors; a profile of indie essayist Charles D'Ambrosio; Donald Hall recalls a golden age of American poetry; best-selling author Miranda Beverly-Whittemore on the rewards of self-promotion; advice for self-published authors; a conversation with Guernica publisher Lisa Lucas; and much more.

Finding Gems in Lost & Found

by Rebecca Bates

News and Trends

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

The Center for Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City is making the ephemeral more tangible through its Lost & Found chapbook series.

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Let's Just Do This: Eleven Small-Press Authors and their Publishing Partners

by Kevin Larimer

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Eleven small-press authors and their publishing partners discuss the independent approach—and all the passion, commitment, and love that comes with it—to bringing books into the world.

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Agents & Editors: Jeff Shotts

by Michael Szczerban

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Graywolf Press executive editor Jeff Shotts discusses the power of patience in publishing, editing as an act of empathy, and why it’s an exciting time to be a poet.

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