The best books to inspire beginning writers

Who am I?

Dinty W. Moore is the author of the writing guides The Story Cure, Crafting the Personal Essay, and The Mindful Writer, among many other books. He has published essays and stories in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Southern Review, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere, and has taught master classes and workshops across the United States as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico.


I wrote...

The Mindful Writer

By Dinty W. Moore,

Book cover of The Mindful Writer

What is my book about?

This isn't your typical “how to write” book. Author Dinty W. Moore, a well-respected writing coach, and teacher, thoughtfully illuminates the creative process: where writing and creativity originate, how mindfulness plays into work, how to cultivate good writing habits and grow as a person, and what it means to live a life dedicated to writing.

The Mindful Writer features bite-sized essays that will delight and inform not only writers, but also other artists, mediators, and mindfulness practitioners. Built around heartening quotes from famous writers and thinkers, it is a resource that readers will turn to again and again for guidance and encouragement.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Lamott’s practical advice takes the immensely huge task of writing a book and encourages us forward through single steps, small efforts. She writes with humor and passion, offering us needed encouragement. This is a book that writers will return to again and again, on those days that we most need a quick dose of hope and inspiration.

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…


Book cover of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Goldberg has a mystic touch, a bit of Zen, and a lot of freedom in her creative approach. This book is not about grammar, or plot, or “rules of writing,” but instead about the mind of an artist, what it takes to shut down the negative and constricting voices and give free rein to your wildest and most surprising ideas.

By Natalie Goldberg,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Writing Down the Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Experience a modern classic on writing as you've never heard it before. With nearly one million copies of Writing Down the Bones in print, Natalie Goldberg has helped change the way writing is practiced in homes, schools, and workshops across America. Through her heartfelt personal reflections and her ingenious Zen-based exercises, Goldberg makes writing available to you as a tool for personal expression, self-exploration, and healing.

In this enhanced reading of her seminal work, Goldberg offers new commentary about the creative, spiritual, and practical dimensions of writing. Join her as she looks back on her life, sharing the story of…


Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Big Magic is as much about the inspiration of Gilbert’s voice as it is about advice. The acclaimed author of Eat, Pray, Love shares her secrets to overcoming the fear and hesitancy that plague all creative beginners (and some advanced artists as well), and she does it with humor and generosity. Gilbert turns out to be as friendly a writing coach as you could imagine.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…


Book cover of Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Gaiman is always wonderfully positive on the subjects of experimentation, failure, and persistence, and with advice such as “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” This inspiring book is made even better by the accompanying four-color artwork from his longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell.

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seize the day in the name of art. This creative call to arms from the mind of Neil Gaiman combines his extraordinary words with deft and striking illustrations by Chris Riddell.

'Like a bedtime story for the rest of your life, this is a book to live by. At its core, it's about freeing ideas, shedding fear of failure, and learning that "things can be different" ' INSTITUTE OF IMAGINATION

Be bold. Be rebellious. Choose art. It matters.

Neil Gaiman once said that 'the world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before'. This little book…


Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

A slim classic from a 19th Century poet that is relevant still, for anyone writing poetry or prose. Rilke focuses on inner qualities of sensitivity, compassionate observation, and appreciation of intrinsic beauty in the world and in all people.

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Letters to a Young Poet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle…


You might also like...

Brother. Do. You. Love. Me.

By Manni Coe, Reuben Coe (illustrator),

Book cover of Brother. Do. You. Love. Me.

Manni Coe Author Of Brother. Do. You. Love. Me.

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a gay man born into an evangelical Christian family, my coming out story was wrought with pain, trauma, and separation from family and loved ones. In the same year I lost my best friend in an accident. My world tumbled and I had to crawl back to a place of reckoning. Walking became my path to healing. So when my brother Reuben, who has Down's syndrome sent me a message from the isolation of a care home in the pandemic, I knew he was in trouble. Those five words - ´brother. do. you. love. me.´changed our lives. I thought I might know a way to save him.

Manni's book list on memoirs that capture the struggle of everyday life

What is my book about?

Brother. Do. You. Love. Me. is a true story of brotherly love overcoming all. Reuben, who has Down's syndrome, was trapped in a care home during the pandemic, spiralling deeper into a non-verbal depression. From isolation and in desperation, he sent his older brother Manni a text, "brother. do. you. love. me."

This cry for help, this SOS in the sand unleashed a brotherly love that had Manni travelling back to the UK mid-pandemic to rescue his brother from the care home, and together they sheltered from the world in a cottage in deepest, darkest Dorset. There began a journey of recovery and rediscovery. Little by little, the brothers had to piece back together Reuben's world, help him to find his voice and find ways for him to trust the world again. This is a book about care, about Down's syndrome, about love. It is a story of resilience and patience in a world that Reuben thought had abandoned him.

Brother. Do. You. Love. Me.

By Manni Coe, Reuben Coe (illustrator),

What is this book about?


The story of two brothers, one with Down syndrome, and their extraordinary journey of resilience and repair.

"Profoundly moving and hugely uplifting."—Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Reuben, aged 38, was living in a home for adults with learning disabilities. He hadn’t established an independent life in the care system and was still struggling to accept that he had Down syndrome. Depressed and in a fog of antidepressants, he hadn’t spoken for over a year. The only way he expressed himself was by writing poems or drawing felt-tip scenes from his favorite musicals…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in writer's block, life satisfaction, and letters?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about writer's block, life satisfaction, and letters.

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