100 books like Writing Down the Bones

By Natalie Goldberg,

Here are 100 books that Writing Down the Bones fans have personally recommended if you like Writing Down the Bones. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Meditations: A New Translation

Lin Wilder Author Of Plausible Liars: A Dr. Lindsey McCall Medical Mystery

From my list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who just published a book I didn’t have any interest in writing. I didn’t like the subject matter, so I had no interest in doing the research to create credible characters and a cohesive plot.

Lin's book list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd

Lin Wilder Why did Lin love this book?

Back when I was an atheist undergraduate college student, this book, among others, saved my life.

I’d walked away from everything religious and hence lacked all moral grounding. Although I was ambitious, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Only what I didn’t want to do with my life.

My animosity against all things religious was huge, but the stoic philosophy of discipline and self-control kept me from throwing my life away.

By Marcus Aurelius (lead author), Gregory Hays (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nearly two thousand years after it was written, Meditations remains profoundly relevant for anyone seeking to lead a meaningful life.

Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161–180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’s insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations…


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

Craig Detweiler Author Of Honest Creativity: The Foundations of Boundless, Good, and Inspired Innovation

From my list on creativity and deepening your spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I blame my mother. She took us to the public library every week and let us check out as many books as we could carry. Consequently, reading was a joy rather than a burden. The writing came after I got over my false assumptions about English Lit and Modern Poetry. As a screenwriter, I craft silly stories to make audiences laugh. That’s why I watch movies after an exhausting week. As an author, I gravitate towards non-fiction–trying to reconcile my artistry with my faith. I’ve written about movies, music, video games, technology, and art–with an eye toward lifting our spirits and comforting our aching souls.

Craig's book list on creativity and deepening your spirituality

Craig Detweiler Why did Craig love this book?

Every time I start a new project, I run through all the reasons not to begin. Perfectionism is such an enemy to creativity.

Anne Lamott offers practical, hard-won advice on the creative process, getting over our self-imposed hurdles bird by bird (one by one). I resonated with her encouragement to compose a lousy first draft that we can then start to edit and refine. I’m so glad she challenged us to turn off the radio buzzing in our own heads.

We may not be able to see where our creative endeavors will lead, but Anne brings humor and humanity to the frightening process of plunging ahead. 

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

16 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 Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Author Of The Reluctant Creative: 5 Effortless Habits to Expand Your Comfort Zone

From my list on trying new things even if you are scared.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was driven to become a veterinarian for as long as I could remember. Then, in high school, I developed a love of performance. I felt stuck. Should I choose art or science? I chose science, and despite a great career, I felt like something was missing. When I reconnected with my creativity through stand-up comedy, entrepreneurship and other non-artistic creative outlets, I found out what I had been missing. Why do we drop creativity for science? It was a common story. I dove into the research on creativity, and was blown away by how a bit of creativity can make us happier, more resilient, and make workplaces more effective.

Dr.'s book list on trying new things even if you are scared

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Why did Dr. love this book?

In this book, I loved the way the author explains the creative process and what it takes to engage your muse and catch ideas. In a different way from The War Of Art, I learned what holds us back from expressing ourselves creatively and how we can overcome this fear of being seen.

Elizabeth Gilbert shares stories and philosophies about how to be more creative every day in a funny and optimistic way.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

18 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 Author Of The Mindful Writer

From my list on for inspiring beginning writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Dinty W. Moore 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…


Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

Anna Pasternak Author Of The American Duchess: The Real Wallis Simpson

From my list on books to touch your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a nonfiction writer who aims to bring heart to my writing. If I can move the reader and enable them to connect to their inner world, then I consider that I have been successful. As I consider my purpose is rehabilitating women whom history has mistreated, my way into these misunderstood women is to examine their inner lives. What moves them and how they manage to survive and surmount their own heartbreak is the question that I am most interested in.

Anna's book list on books to touch your heart

Anna Pasternak Why did Anna love this book?

This book became a lifeline for me when I was going through an unhappily difficult and extremely stressful time. I felt as if it was written for me as a form of salve for my lack of trust in myself and my life at this point.

Rilke is wise, knowing, and reassuring about the vicissitudes of our emotional journeys. He encouraged me to hold onto myself in an emotional sense. To seek my own inner counsel and to not panic when my life seemed to unravel. I love his discourse on faith, solitude, trust, and his dissection of what it is to be an artist.

I found this a profoundly important and moving book when I was wavering about the bigger picture of life.

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Why should I read it?

3 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…


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

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Author Of The Reluctant Creative: 5 Effortless Habits to Expand Your Comfort Zone

From my list on trying new things even if you are scared.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was driven to become a veterinarian for as long as I could remember. Then, in high school, I developed a love of performance. I felt stuck. Should I choose art or science? I chose science, and despite a great career, I felt like something was missing. When I reconnected with my creativity through stand-up comedy, entrepreneurship and other non-artistic creative outlets, I found out what I had been missing. Why do we drop creativity for science? It was a common story. I dove into the research on creativity, and was blown away by how a bit of creativity can make us happier, more resilient, and make workplaces more effective.

Dr.'s book list on trying new things even if you are scared

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Why did Dr. love this book?

As I read this book, I felt like the author was looking into my soul. I loved the short, punchy observations and challenges to anyone seeking to share their creativity. The Resistance is a force universal to everyone who is trying to share a little piece of themselves, and I love the way that it is broken down in this book.

I realized that when I could see what was holding me back from expressing myself, I was able to find strategies to mitigate that fear. This book was instrumental in my ability to express myself as an author and speaker. 

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

22 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…


Book cover of Truman

Lin Wilder Author Of Plausible Liars: A Dr. Lindsey McCall Medical Mystery

From my list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who just published a book I didn’t have any interest in writing. I didn’t like the subject matter, so I had no interest in doing the research to create credible characters and a cohesive plot.

Lin's book list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd

Lin Wilder Why did Lin love this book?

I didn’t have the time or energy for this tome of a book on Harry Truman. Hence, I'd never have read it had it not been ‘assigned’ by the book club I was in.

But I was mesmerized from the first pages. And felt connected to this unobtrusive, somewhat unattractive man who was in every way ordinary. But who became the president during the last days of World War ll. A man who thought and spoke clearly. A man who seemed to personify the virtues without calling them that.

I learned a great deal from this book.

By David McCullough,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Harry S. Truman, whose presidency included momentous events from the atomic bombing of Japan to the outbreak of the Cold War and the Korean War, told by America's beloved and distinguished historian.

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters-Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson-and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man-a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined-but also the turbulent times in which…


Book cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Lloyd Sederer Author Of Caught in the Crosshairs of American Healthcare

From my list on books to read if you want to write the best of non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychiatrist and public health doctor, non-fiction writer, and lay and medical editor. For over 12 years, I have taught non-fiction writing for a general audience at Columbia medical and public health schools to physicians, neuroscientists, epidemiologists, psychologists, and other professionals. I have published 14 books and over 500 written articles and videos. I love to write and help others write...well.

Lloyd's book list on books to read if you want to write the best of non-fiction

Lloyd Sederer Why did Lloyd love this book?

Yes, the same Stephen King: Carrie, The Shining, Misery, and dozens more. Fiction? Yes–his memoir is among the best books for writing nonfiction, not the best of nonfiction books.

Writers of every genre suffer the same troubles, like doubt, rejections, not enough days when the work “flows”, procrastination, alcohol, and drug abuse, having to bow and beg (until your success reverses the tables), and so on. In On Writing, Mr. King gives us his story: "the good, the bad, and the ugly", of writing. 

Start with chapter 25 of “CV”, right to the meat of King’s memoir. Be sure you read his “Tool Box” for writing. From the “fundamentals” (e.g., read and write a lot, vocabulary, sentences, paragraphs) to the “craft” (e.g., subject, story-telling; clarity {again !}; people, personalities, and characters).  

Enjoy!

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twentieth Anniversary Edition with Contributions from Joe Hill and Owen King

ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S TOP 100 NONFICTION BOOKS OF ALL TIME

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the…


Book cover of The Artist's Way

Karen Eber Author Of The Perfect Story: How to Tell Stories that Inform, Influence, and Inspire

From my list on unleashing your storytelling and creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have told stories since the age of five when I shared one about my different colored eyes. Tired of being pointed at and ridiculed for the thing I loved most about myself, I learned that stories can shift energy and create connection, even in the most artificial of settings. I’ve spent my career working in and with the Fortune 500 building leaders, teams, and culture, one story at a time. I’ve used storytelling to persuade people when one had the authority to say yes but 99 others could say no. Stories not only slowed their “No,” but they also helped me recruit them to persuade the decision makers.

Karen's book list on unleashing your storytelling and creativity

Karen Eber Why did Karen love this book?

The Artist’s Way is a classic and a best-seller for a reason.

Julia Cameron gives you the steps to unlocking your creativity, finding your inner voice, and creating a habit. Whether you are stuck, unsure where to start, or looking to build momentum, this helps! This book helps you take away the shame inner critic that is so detrimental to your creativity.

It’s not about writing, it’s about finding your inner creative person – whether that is as a storyteller, author, musician, artist, or even accountant. It helps you improve your art!

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

12 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?

"With its gentle affirmations, inspirational quotes, fill-in-the-blank lists and tasks — write yourself a thank-you letter, describe yourself at 80, for example — The Artist’s Way proposes an egalitarian view of creativity: Everyone’s got it."—The New York Times 
 
"Morning Pages have become a household name, a shorthand for unlocking your creative potential"—Vogue

Over four million copies sold!

Since its first publication, The Artist's Way phenomena has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron's novel approach guides readers in uncovering problems…


Book cover of Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

Craig Detweiler Author Of Honest Creativity: The Foundations of Boundless, Good, and Inspired Innovation

From my list on creativity and deepening your spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I blame my mother. She took us to the public library every week and let us check out as many books as we could carry. Consequently, reading was a joy rather than a burden. The writing came after I got over my false assumptions about English Lit and Modern Poetry. As a screenwriter, I craft silly stories to make audiences laugh. That’s why I watch movies after an exhausting week. As an author, I gravitate towards non-fiction–trying to reconcile my artistry with my faith. I’ve written about movies, music, video games, technology, and art–with an eye toward lifting our spirits and comforting our aching souls.

Craig's book list on creativity and deepening your spirituality

Craig Detweiler Why did Craig love this book?

As a young man who loved the violent films of Martin Scorsese and the soothing sounds of Gregorian chants, I wanted to reconcile these seemingly contradictory passions.

Madeleine L’Engle offers wise words of encouragement for integrating our faith and our art. While I’d enjoyed her science fiction novels like A Wrinkle in Time, I was surprised by the practical, down-to-earth aspects of Walking on Water. This book slowed me down, allowing child-like wonder to return. She challenged me to develop a daily creative practice because one day off ends up disconnecting us for three.

We all have to ‘feed the lake’ every single day.

By Madeleine L'Engle,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Walking on Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic book,Madeleine L'Engle addresses the questions, What does it mean to be a Christian artist? and What is the relationship between faith and art? Through L'Engle's beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one's own art.


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