The best books on writing

The Books I Picked & Why

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

By Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Why this book?

If there is one book on or about writing that I, personally, have read over and over, it is this one. King’s book is truly a writer’s memoir, but he infuses this writer’s life story with frank and accessible information about the craft itself. By candidly sharing his own struggles as a human and a writer, King shows by example on the page what it takes to be a great storyteller.


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If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

By Brenda Ueland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

Why this book?

One of the more moving and inspiring books on writing ever. As a journalist and author, Ueland’s writing style is lovely and completely engaging. As she shares stories of her time spent as a teacher of writing, the idea of what “art” or “good writing” takes on a very human and compelling air. The anecdotes illustrate the dedication, breadth, and challenges faced by her wide variety of students, ultimately giving hope to us all.


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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

By Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Why this book?

I love Anne Lamott’s writing so much I once accosted her in the baggage claim area of the San Francisco International Airport. She was unbelievably gracious. When I was frustrated and anxious and filled with doubt about my writing career, I turned to her book. Again. Beautifully written, authentic, and truly uplifting and inspiring when a writer needs it most.


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Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction

By Jon Franklin

Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction

Why this book?

For anyone who has ever struggled with or merely wanted to hone their abilities to craft a compelling story structure, Franklin’s book is a gem. Examples taken from Franklin’s own Pulitzer Prize-winning work adds an instructive clarity that allows the reader to step inside the decision-making process that went into some of his most lauded work. Any writer—fiction, nonfiction, academic—can use this book to up their storytelling game.


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Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

By Benjamin Dreyer

Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Why this book?

Everyone needs a style guide to occasionally lean on while writing. As longtime copy chief at Random House, Dreyer has more than a little knowledge about how to make a sentence stylishly sing. Anyone and everyone can benefit from this book, no matter what they need to type or pen. Best of all, it is also a fun read. There have been many of these kinds of books to come and go over the years, but Dreyer’s is what sits on my desk. (Gosh, I hope this didn’t have any typos!)


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