Best Books for Writers

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

by Samuel R. Delany

Published in 2006 by Wesleyan University Press

Samuel R. Delany's book About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews examines the condition of the contemporary creative writer. The award-winning novelist and Grand Master of Science Fiction also offers tips on specifics such as when to use flashbacks, along with advice on employing general elements of structure and style.

by John Gardner

Published in 1991 by Vintage

The Art of Fiction is a practical, instructive handbook based on novelist John Gardner's seminars on the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner employs detailed examples from classic works of literature and covers a range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of a refined sentence.

by Tina Welling

Published in 2014 by New World Library

In Writing Wild, Tina Welling details a three-step "Spirit Walk" process for inviting nature to enliven and inspire our creativity. Welling suggests we form a creative parntnership with nature, because "everything we know about creating we know intuitively from the natural world."

by George Orwell

Published in 2005 by Penguin Great Ideas

This compilation of essays by George Orwell features the titular essay "Why I Write," originally published in the Summer 1946 edition of Gangrel, which offers a mini-autobiography detailing how he became a full-fledged writer. Orwell then goes on to highlight the "four great motives for writing," which he claims exist in every writer. Two other essays by Orwell are also included in the volume, "The Lion and the Unicorn" and "Politics and the English Language," as well as the short story "A Hanging."

by William Zinsser

Published in 2006 by Harper Perennial

First published in 1976, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction offers readers fundamental principles on writing across all subjects, as well as insights on craft, style, and process from distinguished writer and teacher William Zinsser.

by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2013 by William Morrow

Bestselling author Neil Gaiman's graduation speech to Philidelphia's University of the Arts class of 2012 encourages young artists, writers, musicians, and dreamers to "make good art." The book is designed by graphic artist Chip Kidd and contains the full text of Gaiman's famous speech.

by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Published in 2014 by W. W. Norton

In To The Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing, Robert Hartwell Fiske suggests how to identify and correct wordiness, and provides alternative expressions with real-world examples to help keep your writing clear and convincing.

by Robert D. Richardson

Published in 2009 by University of Iowa Press

Ralph Waldo Emerson's exuberant and unconventional advice to writers grew from personal experience. In First We Read, Then We Write, Robert D. Richardson focuses and distills Emerson's advice by providing biographical and historical context.

by June Casagrande

Published in 2014 by Ten Speed Press

The Best Punctuation Book, Period is an all-in-one reference from grammar columnist June Casagrande that covers the basic rules along with the finer rules of punctuation. Casagrande offers clear answers to perplexing questions; a guide to show how punctuation rules differ for book, news, academic, and science styles; and rulings from an expert "Punctuation Panel."

by Sarah Lewis

Published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster

In Sarah Lewis's own words, The Rise "is about the advantages that come from the improbable ground of creative failure." In her "biography of an idea," Lewis riddles out the gift of failure using narratives of historical figures ranging from writers to entrepreneurs. Lewis writes about the creative failures of Frederick Douglass, Samuel F. B. Morse, and J. K. Rowling, along with those of choreographer Paul Taylor, Nobel Prize–winning physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, Arctic explorer Ben Saunders, and psychology professor Angela Duckworth.