The best books on rhetoric 📚

Browse the best books on rhetoric as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

By Vivian Gornick

Why this book?

Sometimes I need a book that will inspire me not to continue writing, but to start; kinda like when I binge watch YouTube book talks—that’s the feeling this book brings over me—inspired. It’s a book that helps me write anything because I’m a person who struggles with—yet craves the ability to— strip a piece as bare as possible. Strip a story of its fluff and dissect its roots. I need to know what to save for later, and Gornick expressing the difference between situation and story is something I always go back to in order to help declutter my work. 

From the list:

The best books to read when you need a lil bit of everything to finish one thing

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Book cover of Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction

Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction

By Jon Franklin

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.

From the list:

The best books on writing (from a NY Times best selling author)

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Book cover of The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style

By William Strunk, E.B. White

Why this book?

If you ever took a college English composition class, chances are you read this book. Why did you have to read it? Because it’s that good. Some things change, but crisp, clear composition remains relevant. “Omit needless words.” “Write in active voice.” Pithy statements like these still echo in the chambers of the minds of thousands of writers. Heed those voices! 

From the list:

The best books for aspiring novelists

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Book cover of Several Short Sentences about Writing

Several Short Sentences about Writing

By Verlyn Klinkenborg

Why this book?

Do not come to this book in search of warm hugs about the beauty of the process. True to the title, Klinkenborg (best name ever?) offsets each of his sentences like an epic poem in verse. The epic he describes is how epically bad your writing is, and—hopefully—how to improve. He returns to the word "notice" over and over, and that's really it. You're blowing sentences by not noticing what the sentence itself is doing. You're over-emphasizing "meaning" at the expense of the vehicle that delivers it. I sense there's a kind man in there, somewhere, who's working a side…

From the list:

The best non-songwriting books for songwriters

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Book cover of Writing Tools

Writing Tools

By Roy Peter Clark

Why this book?

I bought this when I saw it recommended online by a famous writer—and I’m very glad I did. 

The title is apposite, since this is less of an all-encompassing writing guide, more of a toolbox of 55 practical ideas to help you write better. Some are about the basics, while others are ways to give your text a compelling structure or a touch of extra polish. Away from the actual hands-on craft, Clark also recommends 11 useful habits to help you become a better writer. 

Buy it, keep it on your shelf, and dip in whenever you need a new…

From the list:

The best books to make your writing crystal clear

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Book cover of 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing: Proven Professional Techniques for Writing with Style and Power

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing: Proven Professional Techniques for Writing with Style and Power

By Gary Provost

Why this book?

We’re writers before we’re anything else, and over the years I’ve learned from many how-to-write books. I’ll give two recommendations here: One: William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. Justifiably a classic. I’ve gone back to it often and assigned it in writing classes. If you haven’t yet read it, you must. Two: anything by Gary Provost, someone you’ve probably never heard of, but whose books on writing, all of them, give pungent, smart advice on how to write anything better. Brevity, euphony, clarity, surprise, and lots of other elements combine to create prose worth reading. Provost shows us how.

From the list:

The best books for copywriters on the rise

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