The 6 Best Books on Writing

July 12, 2013

6 Best Books on Writing

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Lamott is the writing teacher you’ve always wanted. She’s hilarious, prodding, encouraging, real. She gives you license to write terribly and often, and she helps you address the demons of self-criticism.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

I haven’t read this book in several years, but King brings insight from his life and career to offer practical advice for any writer. “If you want to be a writer,” King says, “you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” There’s the synopsis, if you want it.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

This is a great book for non-fiction writing, learning about how to weed out extra words and writing with your¬†voice. First published in the 1970s, this book translates well to the blogging world. I’ve been reading it off and on this year, a chapter at a time.

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

A brief guide to structure and craft, originally written by Strunk and re-worked by one of my favorite authors, E.B. White. This is a book of religious-like following by writers the world over and for good reason.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

This entertaining read will win you over with¬†wit, charm and quirky punctuation history. The author provides background information for grammar nerds, but it also explains why English teachers want to take a red pen with them to restaurants to fix all of the misplaced apostrophes on the menu’s menus.

The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett

A $2.99 Kindle eBook that’s worth the money and the 30 minutes you’ll need to read it. My favorite and most convicting takeaways: 1) There’s really no such thing as Writer’s Block. “The story is in us, and all we have to do is sit there and write it down.” 2) You have to learn how to forgive yourself of your own shortcomings. “I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life, I will forgive myself.”

What are the best books on writing you have read?

Warnings: Lamott and King use profanity on a regular basis, if that sort of thing bothers you. The other books might have some, but not enough for me to remember as distracting or noticeable.

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Kelly Wiggains

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Kelly Wiggains, a high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom, likes to surround herself with good literature, beautiful things, and big ideas, and she wants her home to reflect those things, too. Here at KellyWiggains.com she talks about everything From Literature to Living.
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3 responses to The 6 Best Books on Writing

  1. For legal writing, anything by Bryan Garner is good. I think Dr. Long had us read Writing With Style, which I remember being useful. The King book really is excellent; I think I like it more than any of his fiction.

  2. I love the Memoir Project, and although it is focused on memoir writing, a lot of it is applicable to any sort of writing.

  3. I also love Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle and Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers. These aren’t solely on writing but on art and faith. They are beautifully written and contain incredibly deep truths.