Best Books for Writers

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

by Sandra Scofield

Published in 2007 by Penguin

In this practical guide, National Book Award–nominee Sandra Scofield offers straightforward information and exercises designed to help writers write strong scenes in fiction.

by Edward Hirsch

Published in 2006 by Harcourt

Drawn from poet Ed Hirsch's Washington Post Book World column "Poet's Choice," this collection features classic and contemporary poems with essays by Hirsch about the poems and their various forms.

by Ron Carlson

Published in 2007 by Graywolf Press

In this guide to writing a short story, acclaimed fiction writer Ron Carlson, who is also director of the graduate program in fiction at the University of California, Irvine, invites readers to join him in the process of crafting his story "The Governer's Ball."

by Paul Yeager

Published in 2008 by Perigee

A witty guide to which words and phrases should not only be avoided, but, as the author puts it, "taken to the language dump to never be heard from again." 

by James Logenbach

Published in 2007 by Graywolf Press

In this writing guide, poet James Logenbach explores the qualities that define the poetic line and uses examples of its use in the writing of poets such as Frank Bidart, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and C. D. Wright.

by Peter Jason Riley

Published in 2012 by Focus Publishing

Written by certified public accountant Peter J. Riley, this practical guide—including tips, worksheets, tax forms, and other information—gives writers and artists an overall understanding of the best strategies for collecting data throughout the year in preparation for tax filing.

by Robin Hemley

Published in 2012 by University of Georgia Press

Robin Hemley examines memoir, journalism, and travel writing as categories of immersion writing and further breaks them down—into the quest, the experiment, the investigation, the infiltration, and the reenactment—in order to define the way writers approach their relationship to their subjects. The book includes helpful exercises, as well as addressing the ethics and legalities of writing about other people.

by W. D. Snodgrass

Published in 2002 by BOA Editions

In this collection of essays, Pulitzer Prize–winning author W. D. Snodgrass—who was central to the rise of confessional poetry in the United States during the 1960s—meditates on the importance of voice in a poet's work.

by Carol Smallwood, Colleen S. Harris, and Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, Editors

Published in 2012 by McFarland & Company

In this collection of essays, fifty-nine women poets offer far-ranging guidance and advice on everything from revision, chapbooks, daily practice, writing conferences, publishing, and writing about the unspeakable. Aimed at emerging and established poets alike, the book is arranged in four themed sections and includes a foreword by poet Molly Peacock.

by CAConrad

Published in 2012 by Wave Books

"I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever increasing brutality, has required me to FIND MY BODY to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry," begins CAConrad in this collection of unorthodox writing exercises meant to upset our perception of everyday life. The poet also includes poems that resulted from the writing exercises featured.