10 books like Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Bird by Bird. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron,

Book cover of The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Marge Pellegrino Author Of Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing

From the list on creative jump starts whatever your medium.

Who am I?

As a kid, I loved how words on a page transported me. Later, I was astounded by how the words I wrote myself could help me solve problems, deepen my understanding, and expand my thinking. Over time, that writing offered clarity and built my confidence. And in my most challenging times, writing has saved me over and over again. Learning to observe like a writer or an artist continues to help me be more present in my life. Sharing expressive writing experiences with others, during a 35-year career as a writer and workshop facilitator, allowed me to witness how this creative engagement offers a respite while building resilience and joy in others too.

Marge's book list on creative jump starts whatever your medium

Discover why each book is one of Marge's favorite books.

Why did Marge love this book?

When I first heard about The Artist’s Way, I doubted that this was a book for me. Was I wrong! Over the next year, I met monthly with a visual artist to process each chapter. We discussed prompts, our artist date, or what we wrote from the suggested journaling. The invitations at the end of each chapter led me to work that fed my spirit. Transforming theory into action exercised my creative muscles. The variety of creative engagements encouraged a rich body of work and a new confidence, while the book’s quotes introduced me to other thinkers. Artist’s-Way work not only strengthened my words on the page, but my nonprofit and library work flourished as well. I credit The Artist’s Way for pushing my work into award-winning territory.

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Artist's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Artist's Way provides a twelve-week course that guides you through the process of recovering your creative self. It aims to dispel the 'I'm not talented enough' conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist. Its step-by-step approach enables you to transform your life, overcome any artistic blocks you may suffer from, including limiting beliefs, fear, sabotage, jealousy and guilt, and replace them with self confidence and productivity. It helps demystify the creative process by making it a part of your daily life. Whatever your artistic leanings, this book will give you the…

Writing Down the Bones

By Natalie Goldberg,

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

Tama J. Kieves Author Of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love

From the list on to help you stay true to yourself and your calling.

Who am I?

I am moved by the deepest potential in all of us. Having graduated from Harvard Law School and working as an unfilled attorney, I finally left everything to follow my true desire to write. So, I know how vital it is to have support for our inspiration instead of our fears. That’s why I’ve written 5 books to champion visionary minds, creative souls, freedom junkies, and more. And as a TEDx speaker and USA Today featured visionary career coach, I am always reading for my own growth and for my students. I recommend these books because they helped me to trust in greater possibilities. I hope they support your dreams. 

Tama's book list on to help you stay true to yourself and your calling

Discover why each book is one of Tama's favorite books.

Why did Tama love this book?

When I read this book, I felt as though I’d come home somehow. Goldberg has such a natural, conversational voice while sharing life-changing truths. She shared in a way that embodied her message and I realized I wanted to do that with my calling. While writing about writing, she is also offering instruction that is valuable for anyone who wants to work on any art, craft, or business. Using her years of Zen meditation as a backdrop, she instructs the reader on going beyond self-judgment, training yourself to be excellent, and staying present. It’s a powerful book for anyone who wants to use writing to uncover their truth, and for anyone who wants to dive into practice of any kind, and not get their identity wrapped up in the outcome.

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…

Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Rupal Patel Author Of From CIA to CEO: Unconventional Life Lessons for Thinking Bigger, Leading Better and Being Bolder

From the list on changing the way you live your life.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in high performers and the psychology behind success, and my time at the CIA - during which I served in hostile and unpredictable environments - showed me that success and excellence at anything requires mastering one’s “head game.” When I transitioned into the private sector, I consciously chose to challenge myself and stretch myself to be bigger, better, and bolder than I would naturally be, and that lived experience combined with my CIA career inspired the work I do now in helping leaders and organizations push themselves into their discomfort zones and make the seemingly impossible possible.

Rupal's book list on changing the way you live your life

Discover why each book is one of Rupal's favorite books.

Why did Rupal love this book?

I recommend this book to everyone from CEOs to artists to students because Liz Gilbert’s reflections on “creative living” are relevant for anyone who struggles with self-doubt, feeling adrift, or finding meaning in their day-to-day lives (and let’s face it, that’s pretty much everyone at some point in their lives), and she offers relatable tough-love advice that is full of humor and humanity.

Big Magic has helped me process the mental and emotional rollercoaster of being a leader, an author, a parent, and a human, and every time I read or listen to the book it somehow delivers exactly what I need in the moment (which is why I’ve read/listened to it more than a handful of times).

If you’re feeling “stuck”, get some Big Magic in your life. 

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

15 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…

Art Matters

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

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

Dinty W. Moore Author Of The Mindful Writer

From the list on for inspiring 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.

Dinty's book list on for inspiring beginning writers

Discover why each book is one of Dinty's favorite books.

Why did Dinty 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…

Letters to a Young Poet

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

Mark David Gerson Author Of Writer's Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow

From the list on unlikely books to help you through creative blocks.

Who am I?

Ask successful authors how they started writing, and many will tell you that they always wanted to write. Not me! In fact, through most of my first 35 years, I resisted engaging with anything even remotely creative. I wouldn’t have called it “writer’s block” back then because, having no conscious desire to be a writer, how I could I be blocked? Yet writer’s block is what it was. That I was ultimately able to recognize it as such and get past it has given me a unique perspective on others’ writing challenges, as well as the skill and compassion to help them free up their innate creative potential.

Mark's book list on unlikely books to help you through creative blocks

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

There’s nothing in Letters to a Young Poet about craft, writer’s block, or any of the recognizable challenges faced by twenty-first-century writers. Yet this slender volume published more than a century ago speaks to writers everywhere and in every era, who so often work in isolation and, if they are to be true to their art and authentic within themselves, must rip open their souls and spill the contents onto the page without regard for others’ judgment and criticism. In fact, it speaks to anyone, non-writer as well as writer, whose sensitivity and feelings of not belonging make it sometimes feel impossible to express themselves out in the world. In the end, isn’t that what writer’s block is all about. It certainly was for me!

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…

The War of Art

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

David J. Bookbinder Author Of The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World

From the list on living your best life.

Who am I?

To paraphrase the old Hair Club for Men ads from 1980s late-night TV, I'm not only a life coach, I'm also a client. I’ve been a self-help junkie since before the term was a book category. I started out with Eastern thought, added in meditation and psychology, and eventually became a therapist and life coach myself. Like the authors of several of the books I’m recommending here, I’ve crystalized into one easy-to-access volume the essence of what I’ve learned from 20 years of working with clients and from my own struggles. I hope these books help you move ahead confidently, knowing you can take on whatever comes your way.

David's book list on living your best life

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

The War of Art is an essential book for any creative person who feels blocked, stuck, gets off track, or is held back by self-doubt.

Pressfield’s identification of the many faces of Resistance, along with his distinction between the professional and the amateur, helped me fend off an inner critic that had hindered me for decades, allowing me to finish four books (and counting) I had previously abandoned.

Pressfield hammers home this crucial point: “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”

And then he gives us the tools to get that work done.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The War of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide forsucceeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid theroadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dreambusiness venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy thatevery one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer thisinternal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve…


By Carol S. Dweck,

Book cover of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Liz Davidson Author Of Money Strong: Your Guide to a Life Free of Financial Worries

From the list on gaining a mental edge in business, and in life.

Who am I?

I love books that shift my perspective, expand my thinking, and ultimately, change the way I work, lead, parent, and live for the better. That said, I am not usually drawn to self-help books because they can be very prescriptive in a “one size fits all” kind of way, and not necessarily backed up by a lot of research or evidence. In running a financial coaching company, I’ve seen what happens when you change a person’s perspective—almost inevitably, they end up following suit by proactively doing the work necessary to improve their lives. These books all have the power to do that for readers who are open to it.

Liz's book list on gaining a mental edge in business, and in life

Discover why each book is one of Liz's favorite books.

Why did Liz love this book?

There’s a Henry Ford quote my mom used to always tell me growing up—which at the time, irritated me to no end, but now I realize it’s wisdom:  

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” 

This book shows that this is far more than a pithy quote, through in-depth research on the impact of having what is called a “growth mindset” where you actively lean into tackling new challenges and securing opportunities that might initially feel beyond your reach, with understanding that you will learn, evolve and grow to meet the occasion.

I am now passing on the lessons from this book to my 13-year-old son (not an easy task, but they are slowly but surely taking hold)!

By Carol S. Dweck,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Mindset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the renowned psychologist who introduced the world to “growth mindset” comes this updated edition of the million-copy bestseller—featuring transformative insights into redefining success, building lifelong resilience, and supercharging self-improvement.

“Through clever research studies and engaging writing, Dweck illuminates how our beliefs about our capabilities exert tremendous influence on how we learn and which paths we take in life.”—Bill Gates, GatesNotes

“It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.”

After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this…

Art & Fear

By Ted Orland, David Bayles,

Book cover of Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

Paulette Perhach Author Of Welcome to the Writer's Life: How to Design Your Writing Craft, Writing Business, Writing Practice, and Reading Practice

From the list on inspire a creative life.

Who am I?

Paulette Perhach is an author and writing coach with work in the New York Times, Elle, Vice, Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her book is Welcome to the Writer's Life, which was selected as one of Poets & Writers' Best Books for Writers. She helps other writers figure out how to make a life and identity out of being a writer while making the money work (as she figures it out for herself.) She continues to write about writing craft, business skills, personal finance, and joy on her website.

Paulette's book list on inspire a creative life

Discover why each book is one of Paulette's favorite books.

Why did Paulette love this book?

A guide to making art for those of use who are not geniuses. Don’t worry about making a masterpiece, just make your pieces of art. If you have a hard time letting yourself make bad art, so that you can one day make great art, this is the one to start with.

By Ted Orland, David Bayles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Art & Fear is about the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. Drawing on the authors' own experiences as two working artists, the book delves into the internal and external challenges to making art in the real world, and shows how they can be overcome every day.

First published in 1994, Art & Fear quickly became an underground classic, and word-of-mouth has placed it among the best-selling books on artmaking and creativity. Written by artists for artists, it…

First Things First

By Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

Book cover of First Things First

Devora Zack Author Of Singletasking: Get More Done one Thing at a Time

From the list on to singletask what matters most.

Who am I?

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” - Goethe. As Singletasking notes, we’ve become relentlessly disrespectful of the people and experiences right in front of us. Reversing this is a mission of mine. Nothing seems more important than redirecting our lifelong attention to what matters most. As an international author and speaker about both Singletasking and personality styles, I’m convinced paying attention to and honoring each other is the key to a meaningful life and deep relationships.

Devora's book list on to singletask what matters most

Discover why each book is one of Devora's favorite books.

Why did Devora love this book?

Covey is internationally acclaimed for The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. However, I have a penchant for his also famous First Things First, a gem with visceral concepts that stick like honey in the brain. 

For example, the brilliance behind “Quad Two”—shorthand for items and to-dos that are important yet not urgent. Because they are not pressing, the things (and people) that matter most often get waylaid—propelling us into a life missing our passions and aspirations. Only cropping back up when they do become urgent—such as neglecting health until we can’t fully function.

And who can proceed in life unchanged following his introduction of the “Big Rocks” concept. I won’t do a spoiler alert. Let’s just say it merges prioritization with a singletasked focus.

Finally, I’m a sucker for the thoughtful worksheets nestled throughout First Things First.

By Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked First Things First as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The authors of this book apply insights from their previous book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", to the daily problems of people who must struggle with the demands of work and home life. Rather than focusing on time and change, the book emphasizes relationships and results.

On Writing Well

By William Zinsser,

Book cover of On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Melanie Deziel

From the list on how writers can avoid being replaced by AI.

Who am I?

Professionally, I’ve been a journalist, author, speaker, marketer, adjunct professor, consultant, startup founder, and more; but at my core, I’m a storyteller and a lifelong student. I read voraciously about creativity, writing, media, marketing, psychology, and design, and I’m fascinated by drawing connections between these things. (I’m still allowed to say “read” when I mostly consume audiobooks, right?) I’m currently focused on helping other creators and storytellers master their craft, refine their big ideas, and figure out their unique differentiators, through The Creator Kitchen, the mastermind program I run with fellow creator Jay Acunzo.

Melanie's book list on how writers can avoid being replaced by AI

Discover why each book is one of Melanie's favorite books.

Why did Melanie love this book?

I first read this book when I was pursuing my Master’s in Arts Criticism, and found it to be a wonderfully approachable guide to honing the more creative and intangible skills of writing, not just the more tactical things like grammar and punctuation.

The latest edition (from 2016, with the blue cover) is even better than the previous one, since it includes sections on more personal and memoir-style writing, which is going to be key for differentiating from the bots. (At least until the bots start having lived experiences to draw from in their writing.)

By William Zinsser,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked On Writing Well as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.

Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental priciples as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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