Best Books for Writers

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

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.

by Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman

Published in 2015 by Bloomsbury

Writers Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman offer an essential guide to writing short fiction successfully. The book explores the history of the form, how to get started with ideas and shape plots, as well as tips by leading short story writers. 

by Pat Schneider

Published in 2003 by Oxford University Press

Pat Schneider offers an in-depth description of the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method, and discusses various techniques for writing fiction and poetry. Schneider shares from her teaching experience the methods used in writing classes and community groups. 

by Mary Ruefle

Published in 2012 by Wave Books

The lectures in this collection by poet Mary Ruefle were delivered to a group of poetry graduate students over the course of fifteen years. A finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, the lectures include "Poetry and the Moon," "Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World," and "Lectures I Will Never Give."

by James Wood

Published in 2008 by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

What do we mean when we say we "know" a fictional character? When is a metaphor successful? Book critic and author James Wood addresses various techniques of storytelling and offers a study of the magic of fiction.

by Kenneth Koch

Published in 1999 by Touchstone

The late prize-winning author Kenneth Koch muses on the nature of poetic inspiration, how poems are written and revised, and what happens in the mind while reading a poem. Koch also discusses over ninety works of poetry from poets such as Homer, Sappho, Federico García Lorca, Gary Snyder, and John Ashbery.

by Joni Rodgers

Published in 2013 by Stella Link Books

Author of the bestselling memoir Bald in the Land of Big Hair, Joni Rodgers shares words of wisdom for aspiring writers and her opinions on where the publishing industry is headed. 

by Lauren Sussman

Published in 2014 by Adams Media

English professor Lauren Sussman provides the tools necessary to correct the common grammatical mistakes we all make. This handbook covers everything from verbs and pronouns to punctuation and sentence structure.