Top 5 Books for Aspiring Writers

If you want to be a writer, chances are you’re also a voracious reader. Many writers have dedicated their time to writing books about writing books, and there is so much to learn from their advice. Here are my top 5 picks for books about writing. 

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft–Stephen King. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999, and how the link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured while also being friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life–Anne Lamott. Anne Lamott returns with a step-by-step guide on how to write and manage the writer’s life. Topics include how to get started, bad first drafts, character, plot, dialogue, false starts, writer’s block, writing groups, publication, and how to know when you’re done. If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, then this book is for you. Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. She is both honest and hilarious while still managing to inspire.

The Elements of Style–Strunk and White. While a tad dry, this short book is considered one of the essential classics. It’s handy to have around even if you don’t read it cover to cover. This style manual offers practical advice on improving writing skills with an emphasis on promoting a plain English style. This little book can help you communicate more effectively by showing you how to enliven your sentences. 

Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing–Ursula K. LeGuin. Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received countless writing awards. She is well known for her treatment of gender, political systems, and difference or otherness in any form. Her book on writing is an invaluable resource to any writer, but especially those interested in science fiction and/or fantasy. 

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within–Natalie Goldberg. For more than twenty years, Natalie Goldberg has been challenging and cheering on writers with her books and workshops. In her groundbreaking first book, she brings together meditation and writing in a new way. Writing practice, as she calls it, is no different from other forms of zen practice. Natalie provides valuable insight into the writing process for anyone who practices mindfulness or other similar practices. 

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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