Best Books for Writers

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

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.

by Laura Deutsch

Published in 2014 by Shambhala Publications

Writer, editor, and teacher Laura Deutsch offers techniques, exercises, prompts, and examples that focus on honing in on our senses during the writing process to enrich our storytelling skills.

by Michael Wiegers

Published in 2003 by Copper Canyon Press

In more than one hundred poems, sixty poets from around the world, including Hayden Carruth, W. S. Merwin, Pablo Neruda, Carolyn Kizer, and Jim Harrison, explore the nature and function of poetry.

by Stephen Corey and Warren Slesinger

Published in 2001 by The Bench Press

The editors of twenty literary magazines discuss the philosophy and practice of selecting poems.

by John Hollander

Published in 2001 by Yale University Press

Poet and critic John Hollander surveys the schemes, patterns, and forms of English verse, illustrating each variation with an original and witty, self-descriptive example.

by Betsy Lerner

Published in 2010 by Riverhead Books

Originally published in 2000, this updated guide includes information about electronic etiquette, book promotion via social media platforms, and the current publishing economy. Lerner, who began her career as an editor, is a partner in the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Agency in New York City.

Current Issue

Cover Story 

Our Independent Publishing Issue features an in-depth interview with Graywolf Press editor Jeff Shotts; a look at the successful partnerships of eleven small-press authors and their editors; a profile of indie essayist Charles D'Ambrosio; Donald Hall recalls a golden age of American poetry; best-selling author Miranda Beverly-Whittemore on the rewards of self-promotion; advice for self-published authors; a conversation with Guernica publisher Lisa Lucas; and much more.

Finding Gems in Lost & Found

by Rebecca Bates

News and Trends

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

The Center for Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City is making the ephemeral more tangible through its Lost & Found chapbook series.

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Let's Just Do This: Eleven Small-Press Authors and their Publishing Partners

by Kevin Larimer

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Eleven small-press authors and their publishing partners discuss the independent approach—and all the passion, commitment, and love that comes with it—to bringing books into the world.

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Agents & Editors: Jeff Shotts

by Michael Szczerban

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Graywolf Press executive editor Jeff Shotts discusses the power of patience in publishing, editing as an act of empathy, and why it’s an exciting time to be a poet.

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