Best Books for Writers

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

by Vivian Gornick

Published in 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Vivian Gornick presents readers with examples of some of the best essays and memoirs of the past century, analyzing how the idea of the self has changed. Gornick explores the truth speaker in works by Edmund Gosse, Joan Didion, and Oscar Wilde, and discusses how to recognize truth in your own work.

by Mary Norris

Published in 2015 by Norton

Veteran “prose goddess” Mary Norris brings to the desk over three decades of experience in the New Yorker’s copy department. In her first book, Norris addresses the most common slipups in spelling, punctuation, and usage and provides anecdotal musings on the rules we write by, with examples from Moby-Dick to The Simpsons.

by Clive James

Published in 2015 by Liveright

Clive James examines the poems and legacies of twentieth-century poets, from Hart Crane to Ezra Pound, and offers guidance on how to read and appreciate modern poetry. James also discusses his favorites (Yeats, Frost, Auden, Wilbur, and Larkin) and champions the opinion that poetry is for everyone, not just poets.

by Lizzie Skurnick

Published in 2015 by Workman Publishing

This book collects 244 of the wordplays and neologisms featured in Lizzie Skurnick's "That Should Be a Word" column in the New York Times Magazine. The terms, including twiticule, to mock someone in 140 characters, and brattle, to discuss one's children at great length, poke fun at life in the twenty-first century.

by David Biespiel

Published in 2015 by Antilever Press

In this volume of collected essays, poet and critic David Biespiel offers profound and entertaining analyses of the mysteries of poetry and the role poetry plays in American life. Biespiel discusses the work of nearly one hundred poets from ancient times to the present, in English and in translation.

by Romesh Gunesekera and A. L. Kennedy

Published in 2015 by Bloomsbury Academic

The seventh in the Writers' and Artists' series of books on writing provides an introduction to the forms and history of the novel, and contains tips from authors including Louise Doughty, Jonathan Franzen, and Philip Pullman. The book offers practical advice on writing and editing your own novel, as well as how to find an agent and publisher.

by Tara Mokhtari

Published in 2015 by Bloomsbury

This complete introductory manual for students of creative writing includes a structured series of practical exercises and a glossary of terms. Tips for writing cover genres such as memoir, short fiction, poetry, screenwriting, writing for performance, and writing for digital media.

by David Meltzer

Published in 2015 by City Lights Publishers

Beat Generation poet David Meltzer offers short remarks, autobiographical anecdotes, and inspirational quotations to guide those looking to master the art of poetry. This reissue includes new material that considers the effect of technological developments since the book's original publication in 1977.

by Frank L. Cioffi

Published in 2015 by Princeton University Press

Professor Frank L. Cioffi presents an "antihandbook handbook" using over three hundred sentences from newspaper and magazine articles from a single, typical day to exemplify grammar and usage rules. The book is divided into sections titled "Fundamentals," Fine Tuning," and "Deep Focus," for easy navigation.

by Melissa Pritchard

Published in 2015 by Bellevue Literary Press

Author Melissa Pritchard puts forth the question: "Why write?" Through fifteen inspiring essays, the book examines the power of language and the nurturing constancy of the writing life.