Looking for some last-minute writing education before NaNoWriMo? Here’s the best books for writers to read.

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Best Books for Writers to Read

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I feel I should begin by saying that you don’t need to read specific books to be a better writer. In fact, being a good writer is more dependent upon how much you practice writing than it is on what you consume. But still, what you’re reading is an important part.

Today I’m sharing some books that are great for writers for various reasons. Writing is a lot more than just sitting down and bashing out words on the keyboard. I would argue it’s a lifestyle. And even more, it’s a discipline.

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With all that in mind, here are some books that should help you cover all the aforementioned bases.

(Pssst! Also check out these books for NaNoWriMo!)

Best Books for Writers

Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

The copy of this book I own is from my college days and was purchased used at a bookstore that has long since shut down. There are still stickers on the spine that decry its status as previously owned by someone else. And had I known when I purchased it for my first college writing class that it was going to be as important as it is to me now, I may have bought a better copy. But that’s not important. What’s important is that this is bar none the best book for anyone who wants to become a better writer.

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On Writing by Stephen King

I have to admit that I haven’t read much King in my life. I have a copy of IT that was loaned to me by a friend over a year ago, and it’s on my to be read list. But it’s a beast of a book, and it’s going to have to wait. The only Stephen King book I have finished to this day is On Writing. I love how he enumerates the things that made him a writer, and I especially like how he talks about his college experience.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

This is a book that I want to savor. I have started it a million times, and never finished. I know that I will love it, but there is a slowness to it and the ideas behind it that my anxiety won’t let me enjoy. I think I’m getting there, but it will be a bit. If you want to approach writing as more of a spiritual discipline and doorway to identity, then this is the book for you.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Coping with burnout and connecting your art and creativity to your spirituality are important aspects of writing, and The Artist’s Way can help you do it. If you find yourself spread too thin during NaNoWriMo and unsure of how to fix it, check out this book and start putting some of the information to good use.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

The worst part of writing is editing, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. It’s not that editing is bad, it’s just transitioning into that mindset and using a different set of skills is always difficult. If you’re looking to get better at creating work that’s publishable and molding your writing into shape, this book will get you there.

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What Book Do You Recommend for Writers?

As a writer, what book do you recommend to other writers? Let me know in the comments!

11 Responses

  1. Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy
    The Moral Premise by Stan Williams (There is a video course for this too)
    Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell (most of his books are good including Writing Dazzling Dialogue.)
    Getting into Character by Brandelyn Collins
    The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson
    Story by Robert McKee
    Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
    I’ve read all but two of these book plus what was listed above. Each one has helped to improve my writing. As Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” I make at least a half hour a day for books on writing or doing writing exercises. Write for at least an hour, Edit for another hour then read for fun. Where do I get this time. No TV. I don’t spend three hours in front of the boob tube. I work a full time job, two part time jobs and take online or in person classes. I don’t make excuses.

  2. I would add Big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert to this list as well. This book is for anyone who wants to be creative but I guess mainly for writes as she speaks a lot about writers.

    Great post by the way.

  3. Just Open a Vein
    On Being a Writer Dorthea Brande
    People is Folks Michael Newton
    These are just a few. Can’t remember the author of Just Open a Vein. May have been authors. Good list!

  4. The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith Jr. (Covers ALL THE THINGS in one little book. Plotting, Pacing, Editing, Word Choices, Checklists, etc. )

    Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (Seriously one of the best books about writing a book that reads like a movie and will sell copies.)

    Wired for Story & Story Genius by Lisa Cron (These blew my mind, in the best way possible. Why humans need story and how to captivate the readers-using brain science.)

    Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (If you need an inspirational pep talk for your creative soul…this is the book that will do it.)

    Your Creative Brain by Shelley Carson, PhD ( explains the science of brain creativity, imagination, productivity and WHY we have so many ideas and struggle to focus and finish them. This book retrains your brain to be more productive.)

    and anything written by K.M Weiland (Character Arcs, Plotting, Outlining) One of the best books series for those who need to figure it all out before they start writing.

    These are the book I reference most often as a writer, and use to teach my writers group.

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