July 13, 2012
30 Essential Books for Every Writer
Every writer I know has a bookshelf full of books they’ve purchased to help inspire the writing process. In my case, I
have so many, I’ve pretty much lost track of them.
Except for those that I can’t write without. In my office, I have my computer table, an oak rolltop desk close enough my left elbow bumps it when I really get going on the keyboard and behind me, about two feet away, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf of reference books. Those books are constantly in motion. I pull them out by piles, stack them on my desk and riffle through them to augment particular parts of my stories. Sometimes, I’m looking for facts on nature, animals, buildings. Other times, I’m working through some prickly syntax. Either way, there are those books I can’t write without.
Here’s my list. Read through it. Tell me what your list looks like:
- Bill Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors, by Bill Bryson
- Blockbuster Plots: Pure and Simple, by Martha Alderson
- Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage, by Theodore Bernstein
- Creating Character Emotions: Writing compelling fresh approaches that express your characters’ true feelings, by Ann Hood
- Elements of Style by EB White
- First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, by Noah Lukeman
- Garner’s Modern American Usage, by Bryon Garner
- How to Write A D*** Good Novel, by James Frey
- Lexicon, by William F. Buckley Jr.
- Marshall Plan for Novel Writing: A 16-step program guaranteed to take you from idea to completed manuscript, by Evan Marshall
- National Audubon Society Field Guide
- New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything
- New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge
- Novel Writer’s Toolkit: A guide to writing great fiction and getting it published, by Bob Mayer
- Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus
- Oxford Book of Aphorisms, by John Gross
- Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology
- Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words
- Penguin Dictionary of Epigrams, by MJ Cohen
- Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence, by David Keirsey
- Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne
- Synonym Finder, by J. I. Rodale
- Webster Dictionary
- Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words That Work, by Jack Hart
- Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, by Linda Edelstein
- Writing from A to Z, by Sally Ebest
- Writing the Blockbuster Novel, by Albert Zuckerman
- Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway
- Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider advice for taking your fiction to the next level, by Donald Maass
- Writing the Novel from Plot to Print, by Lawrence Block
The links are to book reviews I’ve done. It’ll be a while before I complete the entire list.
I’d love to hear your list.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and four ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.