Best Books for Writers

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

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.

by Carl H. Klaus

Published in 2010 by University of Iowa Press

In this book-length study of the personal essay, Carl Klaus unpacks the made-up self and the manifold ways in which a wide range of essayists and essays have brought it to life. By reconceiving the most fundamental aspect of the personal essay—the I of the essayist—Klaus demonstrates that this seemingly uncontrived form of writing is inherently problematic, not willfully devious but bordering upon the world of fiction.

by Robert S. Boynton

Published in 2005 by Vintage Books

In this compilation of interviews, each prefaced by a biographical introduction, some of America's most prominent working journalists— including Ted Conover, Jon Krakauer, Jane Kramer, Susan Orlean, and Gay Talese—reveal their approaches to composing their best known works.

by Brenda Wineapple, Editor

Published in 2011 by Trinity University Press

This anthology of essays, letters, poems, prose, and excerpts of interviews by fifty-seven authors of the 19th century—including Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Walt Whitman—offers insight into what it means to be a writer within the context of history, as well as classic guidance about craft, style, and form. 

by Ezra Pound, introduction by Michael Dirda

Published in 2010 by New Directions

Originally published in 1934, Pound's book serves as a guide for those interested in honing their critical thinking through reading the classics. The book is based on the premise that to be a good writer one must be a good reader, aware of the traditions out of which the best literature has emerged.

by Andrea Barrett and Peter Turchi, editors

Published in 2011 by Trinity University Press

This anthology features essays by twenty fiction writers, including Charles Baxter, Maud Casey, Lan Samantha Chang, Stacey D'Erasmo, and Kevin McIlvoy, covering narrative distance and voice, character, setting, structure, and more. As the editors write in the introduction, "Writers and readers contemplation of various aspects of the fiction writer's craft will, we think, find this collection surprising, provocative, and even useful." One hundred percent of the book's royalties go to Friends of Writers, Inc., to provide scholarships for developing writers.