Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
So many writing books exist that a writer could lull away many an hour reading about writing. Why, it’s the perfect way to avoid doing any actual writing! Today let’s help each other sort through the options by suggesting books you’ve read that “made all the difference” for you. The books may be focused on fiction or nonfiction, grammar, self-editing or any other aspect of the craft.
To kickstart the conversation, I’ve assembled a list of some classics that still speak eloquently to the writer and a few books that you might not have heard of.
- William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. Considered one of those foundational books that defines a writer’s job with helps that every writer should make into habits.
- Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. When I taught writing at a seminary (yes, I did), this was my chosen textbook. It provides the basics from which a writer can build his or her own style.
- Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle equips the writer to win the battles of the creative soul. Here’s one quote: “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
- Robert Graves’s The Reader Over Your Shoulder enables the writer to envision for whom the current tome is being created. It’s out of print, sadly, but a worthy book to be on any writer’s shelf.
- Stanley Fish’s How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One offers insights on what makes a sentence beautiful. He diagnoses sentences created by Shakespeare, Dickens, etc., and helps the reader to apply what Fish learned to inform the reader’s own writing. Fish does take Strunk and White to task for sometimes oversimplifying the art of writing. I’ve created a debate within my own brief list!
Now it’s your turn. What writing books (or other aids) would you recommend and why?
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5 of the best writing books. Click to tweet.