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33 Books Writers Need On Their Bookshelves

by The Procrastinating Writer on July 29, 2009

courtesy of Saltygal

courtesy of Saltygal

By Jennifer Blanchard

All writers have bookshelves filled with a variety of books about writing–from writing reference books to writing idea books to editing books.

I, myself, am no stranger to books about writing. In fact, my bookshelf is loaded with them. Each book about writing signifies not only how far I’ve come as a writer, but what I’ve learned along the way.

So I wanted to share my list of can’t-live-without-them books. Here’s what’s on my bookshelf currently. The books with the * next to them are the books I highly, highly recommend you read if you haven’t already:

  • Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
  • Write Is A Verb: Sit Down, Start Writing, No Excuses by Bill O’Hanlon *
  • Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
  • How to Write Best-Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz
  • On Writing, by Stephen King *
  • the Writer’s Market
  • the Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market
  • Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott *
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King *
  • The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman *
  • The Writer’s Idea Book, by Jack Heffron *
  • Create A Character Clinic, by Holly Lisle *
  • What If? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
  • Writing Fiction, by Janet Burroway
  • A Dash of Style, by Noah Lukeman
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White *
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes
  • The Writer’s Book of Hope by Ralph Keyes
  • A dictionary (mine is a combination dictionary and thesaurus) *
  • A thesaurus *
  • How To Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore
  • 1001 Ways To Market Your Books by John Kremer
  • The Artist Way by Julia Cameron *
  • The Writer’s Handbook by Barry Turner
  • Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams
  • How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey
  • Pen On Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett *
  • The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell *
  • The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock: The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Selling More Work Faster by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell *
  • Revision by Michael Legat
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield  *

What books about writing do you have on your bookshelf? What books about writing do you recommend others read?

Note: None of these recommendations are affiliate links. I just wanted to recommend some books about writing that have greatly helped me learn what I know today. These are books I return to time and time again for advice, motivation, inspiration and on occasion, a good laugh or two.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mo July 29, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Thank you so much for blogging about books for writers. I am an aspiring writer who has used excuse after excuse for not writing. Ralph Keyes’ The Courage to Write really speaks to me. I pick it up again and again for inspiration, but still come up with more excuses. What I really need is a kick in the butt! Hopefully, some of the books you listed will be that kick that I need! Thank you.

2 The Procrastinating Writer July 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm

@Mo Yep! Some of the books are specifically designed for procrastinating writers. If you’re looking for a kick to get writing, read Write Is A Verb. Best book on writing procrastination I’ve found so far.

3 Larry July 30, 2009 at 3:46 am

At the risk of getting run out of town for gratuitous self promotion, I’ve just released a book — an ebook, actually — that I think fits in with the group above (many of which I’ve read, as have most of you, I’m sure).

It’s called “101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters,” and it’s far more indepth than the recent wave of tips postings found on writing sites. It releases end of this week… it’s that new.

Hope you’ll check it out. You can find it through my site, http://www.storyfix.com.

Another wonderful writing book: “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” by William Goldman (he of the two screenwriting Oscars). You don’t have to be a screenwriter to appreciate all the wisdom and wit in this one.

4 Suzannah-Write It Sideways July 30, 2009 at 6:16 am

I loved Stephen King’s “On Writing,” even though I’m not a major fan of his work. It’s a really inspiring look at how he went from basically nothing to what he is today. Like you, I’d recommend it to anyone who writes or wants to. Thanks for this list!

5 Andrea July 30, 2009 at 8:00 am

Thanks for the list – I love Bird by Bird and On Writing, too. But hey – aren’t you an Amazon affiliate? Link! Link! Link! 🙂

6 Joe August 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Robert’s Rules of Writing, by Robert Masello, is a standout. It contains 101 “unconventional” lessons every writer needs to know. Highly recommended.

7 Marie-Louise April 18, 2011 at 7:51 am

Hi, thanks for the list, I’m always looking for new books on writing. I also love Writing Begins with the Breath by Lorraine Herring about writing process and deepening your writing. And then there are two great books by Donald Maass: The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel.

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