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21 Essential Books for Writers

Writers everywhere should add these books to their bookshelves

It’s a given that every writer should have an extensive collection of books, as this is what aids writers in commanding the English language. You don’t have to be a professional writer to wish to discover the art of mastering written communication. These books are for everyone who finds writing joyous or useful.

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#1 Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald MillerGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

This book is perfect if you want your writing to evoke emotion and make the reader feel as if they’re a part of what you’re describing. It’s also a great resource if you’re a copywriter or brand manager since it can help show your customers exactly what your business does, thus boosting sales.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#2 The Joy of Mindful Writing by Joy Kenward

The Joy of Mindful Writing by Joy KenwardGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Through meditative exercises, engaging anecdotes, and astute notes on perception, imagination, and focus, the author helps you to flow, flourish and lose yourself in writing. Containing 20 mindful writing exercises, this unique guide explores how conscious writing creates mindful awareness, offering a fresh angle on shifting writer’s block.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#3 Being a Writer by Travis Elborough

Being a Writer by Travis ElboroughGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Beautifully illustrated throughout, this stunning anthology explores and illuminates the pleasures and pitfalls of the compulsion to write, with advice about the whole messy business of writing literature and what it takes to be a writer. The perfect gift for aspiring writers, curious readers, and anyone interested in what the world’s greatest authors have to say about the art of writing.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#4 Promised Land by Robert B. Parker

Promised Land by Robert B. Parker Get this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Promised Land, the 4th of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, is more than a thriller. In it, Parker establishes his main characters (Spenser, the tough but tender private eye; Susan Silverman, the woman he loves, and Hawk, the African-American leg breaker who becomes Spenser’s best friend and moral compass). The prose is lyrical, the action stunning and the plot compelling. The first five Spenser novels revived a genre and changed the way private eyes would be portrayed for a generation.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#5 On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen KingGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

From basic tools to inspiring anecdotes, this book is full of advice for writing. Whether someone is a huge fan of Stephen King (like myself) or not, this is a go-to guide on the craft!

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#6 Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani ShapiroGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

This tiny tome often sits on my bedside, ever-present like an old friend, ready and willing with morsels of wisdom, inspiration, and concrete tips from one of my favorite award-winning memoirists.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#7 Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth KephartGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

This book is written for writers. Aspiring memoir writers, to be precise.

There is such value in immersing oneself in Kephart’s attitudes about writing the self, about opening oneself to vulnerability, about the startle of details and discovering truth at the edge of the frame and the nature of love…all of this is wisdom even the non-writers among us will grasp at, cling to, think upon. And regarding love, take note: “Love,” she writes, “is where life stories start, no matter what one is writing about.”

Kephart spends a good portion of the book on what she calls “not-yet-writing-memoir work”—preparatory ideas, tapping memories, conjuring beauty, exploring diversions, finding your story. I am betting you will relish those parts. And in the relishing, there will be epiphanies that will make you see your life in new ways, write your life with your authentic voice.

One of my favorite gems from the book, I offer up as a call to action:

“Let your words uncover you. Let your words prove you.”

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#8 A Cure for the Common Word by K. D. Sullivan

A Cure for the Common Word by K. D. SullivanGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

So many words are overused by writers, K. D. Sullivan takes 100 of the most common of these and, through synonyms, example sentences, definitions and explanations of why they aren’t effective, helps take the writer into new and better alternatives.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#9 The Art of Styling Sentences by Ann Longknife

The Art of Styling Sentences by Ann LongknifeGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

A consistent Barron’s bestseller and worldwide classroom reference, The Art of Styling Sentences takes writers through the fundamentals of solid sentence structure. This guide also Includes exercises and examples from current prominent authors.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#10 You Can Write a Mystery by Gillian Roberts

You Can Write a Mystery by Gillian RobertsGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Roberts, author of the award-winning Amanda Pepper mysteries, takes aspiring mystery authors through all the steps needed to become a successful whodunit author. With this book, authors will learn how to build their story from the ground up, based on what Roberts calls the Seven Cs:” characters, conflict, causality, complications, change, crisis and closure.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#11 Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney

Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita SweeneyGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

At 49 years of age, grief-stricken, chronically depressed author Nita Sweeney took up running with her dog in an attempt to find a way out of the darkness. Her memoir of pounding the roads with her canine companion will entertain and motivate any reader who has ever fallen into deep despair. Not only did running help her mental health, it gave her the stamina to finally publish a book! Whether or not readers want to follow in her running footsteps, they will enjoy reading about her running and writing journey.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#12 Telling True Stories by Mark Kramer

Telling True Stories by Mark Kramer Get this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

This book is focused on journalistic narrative nonfiction, but the lessons it imparts are applicable for any writer in any situation. It contains insights from dozens of writers on topics such as finding the emotional core of a story, gaining the trust of the people you’re writing about, and writing techniques that can make a nonfiction story read like a novel. The book also discusses how to write a book proposal and submit a screenplay. For fiction writers, the lessons about how to write emotions can help them create more well-rounded, believable characters. The breadth and depth of the wisdom in this book make it a must-read for any writer.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#13 The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley

The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian KiteleyGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Judged by the cover, this book may seem like any other book of writing prompts—but these exercises grow in complexity and depth, stretching and massaging the creative muscles to do things you never expected. I’ve had it for years, and I’ve never gotten all the way through. I still love it because every time I try again, my writing grows stronger.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#14 The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah LukemanGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Every writer should read “The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile” by Noah Lukeman. There’s no fluff. Following Lukeman’s straight forward rules will strengthen your writing, no matter the genre. As a professional writer, Lukeman’s book is my go-to guide.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#15 Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird by Anne LamottGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

There are a lot of books out there for writers. Lots of How To’s and Step by Step guides. But none, as far as I have read, speak to the heart of the matter, the words, the characters, the soul of writing like this one. Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, Anne tackles the entire process from start to finish with loads of grace and her famous deft hand. A handbook for the writer who wants to write poignant work straight from the heart but who is also brave enough to write terribly and awfully sometimes too, because writing is best tackled Bird by Bird.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#16 Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts Into Books by Dan Poynter

Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts Into Books by Dan PoynterGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

This book has the guidelines on how to prepare and structure your writing so that everything you write will fit somewhere. It helped me organize the front matter and back matter so I could focus on creating the bulk of the content.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#17 Dreams Don’t Have Deadlines (Audio Book) by Marc Victor Hansen

Dreams Don't Have Deadlines (Audio Book) by Marc Victor HansenGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

This book was like lighting a fire under my ass and I took action. It got me off my lazy and comfortable seat and inspired me to create a game plan to write my first two books. His voice is captivating and filled with enthusiasm. It’s one of those audio books that keeps your attention so his advice can be applied.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#18 You Can Be a Winning Writer by Joan Gelfand

You Can Be a Winning Writer by Joan GelfandGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Joan Gelfand has been teaching the 4 C’s Approach to aspiring authors at book festivals and writer’s conferences for the past ten years. She has helped writers around the country realize their dreams of becoming successfully published.

From writing the first draft to building a reputation, the 4 C’s discuss craft and commitment and give solid tips on how to build a literary community and a fan base. With a splash of humor, a dose of empathy and a volume of support, Joan’s book includes real life anecdotes from famous and not so famous ─ but successful ─ authors. You Can Be A Winning Writer is the go-to book for writers just starting out, writers stalled after their first or second book, and students.

More than just a book about writing skill, You Can Be A Winning Writer includes post-publication strategies; the mistakes that even the most talented prize-winning authors have made; how, with the help of the 4 C’s, those same authors could have enjoyed greater success; and what it means to ‘fire on all burners” and work to develop each of the 4 C’s simultaneously.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#19 Book of Awesome Women Writers by Becca Anderson

Book of Awesome Women Writers by Becca AndersonGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

From the first recorded writer to current bestsellers, Becca Anderson takes us through time and highlights women who have left their mark on the literary world. This expansive compilation of women writers is a chance to delve deeper into the lives and works of renowned authors and learn about some lesser known greats, as well. Some of the many women writers you will love learning about are: Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, Judy Blume, Rachel Carson, Nadine Gordimer, Margaret Mead, Joyce Carol Oates, and many, many more.

The works of these awesome women writers vary greatly―each is as unique and significant as the women who penned them. With the help of writers, editors, librarians, booksellers, and more, Anderson has crafted a must-read book for women everywhere. This feminist book is a beacon of brilliance. It is the perfect gift for artists, intellectuals, and anyone who seeks to be inspired by words and profound lives. Most of all, it is a celebration of the journeys and accomplishments of women who have worked to have their voices heard in black and white letters across the world.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#20 Heart, Sass & Soul by Greta Solomon

Heart, Sass & Soul by Greta SolomonGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

Writing for yourself is an incredible way to heal your heart, find happiness, and reconnect with the things that matter most. As kids, many of us had vibrant imaginations and our lives were full of creativity. Over time, that self-expression gets lost in the busy routine of everyday life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The tips, techniques, and exercises for freewriting in this book will help you tap into that creativity deep in your soul. That time in-between jobs, friends, relationships, homes, or whatever else, is the “great unknown.”

Contrary to what some may tell you, this is not the time to make major, life-changing decisions. In the midst of loss and grief, you need self-care more than ever. In fact, the best thing to do in these times is write. Journaling and freewriting can bring you a deeper level of self-awareness, allowing you to truly know who you are. Heart, Sass & Soul will show you how to develop a writing practice that nurtures inner strength and promotes a rich, fulfilled life.

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

#21 How to Self-Publish for Under $100 by Cinquanta Cox-Smith

How to Self-Publish for Under $100 by Cinquanta Cox-SmithGet this book or read more reviews of it by using the links below

How to Self-Publish for Under $100 is THE bible for getting published. Publishing expert and author Cinquanta Cox-Smith offers all her tips and tricks on self-publishing a book on a reasonable budget. This book is especially valuable to content creators who don’t have a publishing deal, have a strong following on their social platform, want to learn how to get their manuscript out in the market, and want to produce residual income.

Cinquanta details all the ins-and-outs of a successful book launch from the basics to the in-depth. Her secrets arm you with the best possible chance to have your book shine. This isn’t just another guidebook about ISBNs, covers and word count. It covers everything from the benefits of beta readers to the differences between vanity publishing and hybrid publishing to successful categorizing and search engine optimization–and more!

Before buying a book make sure to compare price and outlet, we have included links below to several large book outlets for different regions in the world:

Contributors to this article
Krunal Rindani from KrunalRindani

Joy Kenward from Leaping Hare Press

Travis Elborough from Frances Lincoln

Lawrence De Maria from LawrenceDeMaria

Bri Thomas from Brianna Thomas Writes

Dawn M. Roode from Modern Heirloom Books

Jay Hartman from Untreed Reads Publishing

Nita Sweeney from NitaSweeney

Tommy Wood from Page 1 Solutions, LLC

Ashton Whitney from Destination Stories

Tui Snider from Tui Snider’s Offbeat and Overlooked

Meaghan Dawson from The Grit & Grace Project

Johnny Welsh from Paper Maps, No Apps

Brenda Knight from Mango Publishing

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