Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Best Books for Writers?

While researching for books on writing, I found pages and pages of titles of top rated books using Google search. There are many sites detailing the "Top Ten Best Books for Writers." I saw similarities among the lists so I decided to do my own "Top Ten Books for Writers" based on these lists. I would never presume to tell writers which books are the best. But I can tell you the ten books that kept appearing in dozens of lists. I did not include any reference books such as dictionaries, thesauruses (thesauri is also correct I learned) or books on specific topics like screenwriting or poetry.

In order of most frequently appearing titles starting with the most often listed book:

1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
2. On Writing Well by William Zinser
3. On Writing by Stephen King
4. Zen and The Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
5. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
6. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
7. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
8. If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
9. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark
10. Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Is your favorite book not among these titles? Please use the comment section to share the book(s) you have found most helpful. I had not read the number one book, Bird by Bird, so I bought it. With the exception of some unnecessary expletives, I thought Ms. Lamott's book to be informative in a story telling way which was unique and enjoyable. She has a good sense of humor and uses it well to illustrate her points.


Nancy Owens Barnes said...

I haven't read all of the books on your list, but from those I have read, Lamott's "Bird by Bird" has been at the top of my list for a long time. When I first read it, I laughed out loud at Lamott's humor, and her struggles with writing, publishing, and putting a book together has inspired me in my writing efforts over the years.

Another couple of books that have helped me and I feel are helpful for writers are Christopher Vogler's "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers," and Constance Hale's "Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Efective Prose."

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

I like "Bird by Bird" and reread it every few years. I also enjoy reading The Artists Way for inspiration but can never seem to stick to the program.
For help with plotting, which is one of my weaker areas, I like Robert McKee's "Story." Even though it's for screenwriters, a lot of McKee's storytelling advice applies to novelists and short story writers as well.