Becoming a writer is a challenging and gritty process filled with discovery, creativity, a bit of frustration (okay, a lot) and endless learning. Whether you aspire to write a novel, craft new poetry, personal essays or a memoir or even delve into flash fiction, reading is an essential part of honing your craft as an author. It exposes you to different styles, voices, and storytelling techniques while providing inspiration and valuable lessons. In this blog post, we will explore five fantastic books that every emerging author should read to enhance your writing skills.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Best for Fiction Writers
Stephen King, the master of horror, invites readers into his world in this part-memoir, part-writing guide. On Writing is a captivating exploration of King's life as a writer from his early struggles to his eventual success. The book offers practical advice on the craft of writing, such as developing characters, creating suspense, and the importance of revision. King's personal anecdotes and conversational tone make this book a very relatable and insightful resource for aspiring authors. It’s a staple in many writers’ collections.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Best for Creative Writers
Anne Lamott's essays are a compassionate and humorous guide for writers seeking to navigate the challenges of the creative process. Lamott shares her wisdom on topics like overcoming self-doubt, managing the inevitable writer's block, and finding your unique voice. Her emphasis on the importance of embracing the messy first drafts and focusing on small, manageable steps makes this book a comforting companion for any budding author.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Best for All Writers
This book is a timeless classic that every writer should have as a resource. This concise guide offers indispensable rules and guidelines for clear and effective writing. From grammar and punctuation to word choice and sentence structure, Strunk and White provide invaluable advice that will help aspiring authors refine their prose and develop a keen eye for detail. Whether you're a novice writer or a seasoned wordsmith, this book is an essential tool for improving your writing skills.
PoemCrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan G. Wooldridge
Best for Poets
While some writers may be able to simply sit back and pull a poem out of thin air, that is certainly not the case for most. Writing workshop leader Susan G. Wooldridge taps into her own experience of writing and helping others write to share this compilation of prompts, ideas, and more. Wooldridge offers a delightfully free-spirited approach to penning inspiring poems with practical exercises that open up a new “wordpool” in your mind, enabling you to dive deeper into your subconscious thoughts. It’s a warm, captivating book with a liberating style that will reignite your love for words and phrases that evoke imagery and convey important feelings. PoemCrazy is part-memoir, part-manual and part-muse. It’s an essential guide that any budding poet will find valuable.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Best for All Writers
This timeless and influential masterpiece has been a go-to resource for aspiring writers since its firstpublication in 1976 and transcends its classification as a mere writing guide. From the very first page, Zinsser's writing style is open, engaging and accessible. One of the book's greatest strengths lies in his ability to adapt his advice for various forms of writing. Whether it's nonfiction, memoir, travel writing, or business communication, Zinsser provides valuable insights and practical guidance tailored to each genre. He tackles issues such as finding your subject, organizing your thoughts, conducting research, and interviewing techniques. Zinsser also dedicates a significant portion of the book to the revision process. He emphasizes the importance of self-editing and offers techniques for cutting unnecessary words and refining one's writing.
Also, this book dives into the writer's mindset and attitude. Zinsser emphasizes the importance of curiosity, empathy, and authenticity in connecting with readers. He urges writers to cultivate their own unique voices, resist trends, and stay true to their personal experiences and passions. It is an educational tool but also an enjoyable read that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on your writing style and approach.
You may have dozens of books already filling up your TBR, like I do. But by immersing yourself in these literary treasures, you will gain better insights, discover new techniques, and be inspired to embark on your own writing endeavors with more confidence and passion. Remember, great writers are not only skilled linguists but also fiercely passionate readers who embrace the transformative power of books that stay with you long after you’ve closed the cover.