Best Books for Writers

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

by William Zinsser

Published in 1998 by Mariner Books

Anyone undertaking the project of writing a memoir knows that the events, memories, and emotions of the past often resist the orderly structure of a book. Inventing the Truth offers wisdom from nine notable memoirists about their process (Ian Frazier searched through generations of family papers to understand his parents' lives), the hurdles they faced (Annie Dillard tackles the central dilemma of memoir: what to put in and what to leave out), and the unexpected joys of bringing their pasts to the page.

by E. M. Forster

Published in 1956 by Mariner Books

In Aspects of the Novel, E. M. Forster delves into the seven elements essential to a novel: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.

by Mary Oliver

Published in 1998 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance," wrote Alexander Pope. "The dance," in the case of Oliver's brief and luminous book, refers to the interwoven pleasures of sound and sense to be found in some of the most celebrated and beautiful poems in the English language, from Shakespeare to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Robert Frost. With a poet's ear and a poet's grace of expression, Oliver shows what makes a metrical poem work, and enables readers, as only she can, to "enter the thudding deeps and the rippling shallows of sound-pleasure and rhythm-pleasure that intensify both the poem's narrative and its ideas."

by Jeff Gerke

Published in 2011 by Writer’s Digest

Seasoned writer Jeff Gerke offers advice and insights regarding how to create a strong opening for a novel, and provides specific tasks that help writers avoid leaving readers disoriented, frustrated, or bored.

by Beth Kephart

Published in 2013 by Gotham

Author Beth Kephart explores the many personal and professional challenges of writing memoir. From remaining faithful to the searing language of truth, to navigating the thin line between remembering and imagining, the author offers practical advice for memoirists who seek wisdom regarding the craft as well as their legal rights.

by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd

Published in 2013 by Random House

This informative and instructive guide examines the three major incarnations of nonfiction: essays, memoirs, and narratives. By offering insightful analysis and expert advice, this entertaining and practical guide to writing nonfiction is ideal for both seasoned and beginner writers.

by Donald Maass

Published in 2009 by Writer's Digest

Writer, agent, and publishing industry veteran Donald Maass offers ideas and techniques that instill fire and passion into manuscripts that lack the ability to grab readers and take them on a journey.

by Robert D. Richardson

Published in 2009 by University of Iowa Press

In this insightful resource for writers, author Robert D. Richardson explores the acclaimed poet Ralph Waldo Emerson’s literary accomplishments, creative processes, and writing advice.

by Fred White

Published in 2008 by Writer’s Digest Books

The author provides three hundred sixty-six inspirational and practical tips—one for each day of the year—that explore how to integrate writing into one’s everyday life and how to stay creatively focused on the craft of writing. 

by June Casagrande

Published in 2010 by Ten Speed Press

Journalist and editor June Casagrande breaks down the semantics of sentences, and explains how words and grammatical constructions relate to each other in logical and artful ways. A meticulous examination of sentence structure, content, and style reveals the building blocks of successful sentences, and how writers can apply this knowledge to their own work.