On My Bookshelf: Essential books for writers
Feeling meta? Most of my free reading time is spent on high-quality newspapers, magazines, novels, and comics, all of which can be absorbing and transformative.
But when the very best writers write about writing, it’s another experience altogether. These books have all earned a permanent place in my personal library.
“Several Short Sentences About Writing,” by Verlyn Klinkenborg
A revealing prose poem that deeply challenged some of my ideas about writing.
“The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life,” by Twyla Tharp
Brilliant advice about cultivating creativity habitually.
“The Writer’s Image: Literary Portraits,” by Jill Krementz
Literary portraits, some of which reappear in the more recent (and easier to find) “The Writer’s Desk.”
“Writing Down the Bones,” by Natalie Goldberg
Short meditations on writing as a ritual practice.
“The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Based on the Wall Street Journal Guide,” by William E. Blundell
Master class in long-form narrative.
“Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” by Anne Lamott
Vivid, funny, and practical wisdom from an author in the trenches.
“The Elements of Style,” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
The shortest book on my list has been on my bookshelf since the ninth grade.
“Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer,” by Roy Peter Clark
If you apply even just the first of these 50 suggestions to all your sentences, your money and time will be well spent.
“The Synonym Finder,” by J.I. Rodale
Thesaurus of choice.
A good paper dictionary
Look up the definition of the same word in several dictionaries to find your favorite.