5 Must Read Books for Writers


Great writers read.  There is something about dipping into the written word that inspires you to write more powerfully.

Whether you are writing a blog, a digital book, a home study course, or a full length book, the power of your writing will be enhanced as you observe the way that other writers use language.

Plus, if you are writer and intend that people will read your words, it only makes sense that you would return the favor and read the words of your fellow authors…LOL

Since we are coming into the winter months, take some time to read these five books for writers, which will both entertain you and enrich your writing skills.  The first four are classics so should be available at your local public library.  The final one is a reference book worth investing in.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron’s best-selling book on creativity has been a best-seller for years because it works.

Written by the author of over thirty books and screenplays, Julia provides classic exercises in this book to help you write more creatively and enjoy the process more fully.

By the time you finish this book and the 12 weeks of exercises it contains, you will believe you can write, and write with confidence.

Julia knows what she is talking about.  She’s been a poet, screen writer, playwright, novelist, and non-fiction writer for over thirty years.

The Artist’s Way was rejected at first by traditional publishers so Julia self-published it.  It sold so well it was purchased in 1992 by Jeremy Tarcher, re-released and went on to sell millions of copies.  It is considered one of the top 100 Best Self Help Books of all time.

On Writing by Stephen King

Whether you like horror stories or not, you must agree that Stephen King is one of the most  commercially successful writers of our age.

In this book, you will first read an amusing autobiography of his life as a writer, from his childhood days to all the crummy jobs he took so that he could write.

Then, you’ll be treated to an outstanding master class in the art of writing and the life of a successful author.  King is like a wise mentor in this book who teachers you writing tips in a friendly and encouraging way.  I was surprised at the warmth and common sense advice so freely shared in this book.

The editing tips in this book are outstanding, and ones that everyone can employ, whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction.  The thing that struck me most in this book was the great effort that King puts into his writing, keeping a daily quota of words and editing tightly so that there is nothing extraneous in his writing.

When you finish this book, you’ll be a smarter writer and be more aware of what it really takes to write well.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosmund Stone Zander

This book is a gem, a rare self-help book that doesn’t just teach positive thinking but changes how you view the world.

Written by a symphony conductor and his psychotherapist wife, this book focuses on growing creatively by allowing yourself to see more potential in yourself and your contribution to the world.

It may sound trite, but this book is anything but.  Some of the exercises on creativity and passion in this book seem familiar, but are presented here with a new twist and greater meaning.  I have used the ‘shining eyes’ technique in this book for at least ten years and find it is a foolproof way to evaluate ideas and find people who resonate with my work.

If you do any teaching, training, or coaching along with your writing, The Art of Possibility will enhance your ability to mentor and empower your students, both in your writing and your direct instruction.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

This one really is a classic.  Written in 1995, it is not a how-to- write book as much as it is a book about the life of a writer.  Its laugh-out- loud funny in parts and deeply poignant in other places.

Anne takes on unspoken topics like jealousy about other writers, fright, over whelm and self-judgment.  She is honest and funny as she describes her struggles and her triumphs.

When you finish this book, you’ll know that writing isn’t easy, that it takes effort, but the rewards of taking your observations and insights to the world in written form make that effort all worth it.

This book is not a writer’s manual but there are plenty of solid tips mixed in with the stories and exercises.  For me, the best part of this book is the honest look at the day to day life of a professional writer.

These stories are written so crisply, with such detail, that you can see them unfolding like a movie in your mind.  Anne is a brilliant writer of detail and metaphor.  Reading her words will help you pay more attention to the moments in your life and the rich details that you can weave into your writing to make it more vivid.

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Forgarty

If you have ever been stumped by a grammatical rule or word choice, you need the Grammar Girl!

Mignon is the creator of an insanely popular podcast and blog on grammar. This podcast has been downloaded over twenty million times and lead to appearances on Oprah and features in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Anyone who can make grammar fun is a communicator extraordinaire!

This is a book you’ll keep on your desk as a reference when you struggle to remember if you should use affect or effect, who or whom, and when you want to take a bold stand and use a semi colon!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books (and your faves!) in the comments below…

Lynne Klippel
Lynne Klippel is a best-selling author, publisher, and book strategist who focuses on books which build a business. Her clients are non-fiction writers who create books on spirituality, business, personal development, relationships, and how to books which delight readers and convert them to clients.
Lynne Klippel
Lynne Klippel


  1. Excellent article. I must admit, I haven’t crossed most of these books in my browsing. I will try to check them out, or at least, keep them in mind.

    I know that an excellent writer must also be a avid reader.

    Thank you for your recommendations.

  2. I have been struggling with my autobio for a few years now. I feel so passionate about it, and think it’s a very special story about a little girl raised by her Daddy with many twists and turns. I appreciate the information you have given and will certainly read it. Thank you, Nancy

  3. I’m missing a few books on writing that were more influential on my writing and editing:
    Sol Stein – Stein on Writing
    David Morrell – The Successful Novelist
    Lawrence Block – Writing the Novel
    Renni Browne and Dave King – Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
    Noah Lukeman – The First Five Pages.

  4. I would add Mastery by R.Greene. Must read for every Creative person. Incredibly well explained creative process of many super successful people like DaVinci, Mozart, etc..

  5. Another great book for diving into one’s depths for writing good material, is Kay Adams’ “Journal to the Self.” I think this one really need to be added to this list! I’ve read all but “The Art of Possibility,” which is now on my list, and “Grammar Girl’st tips…!

  6. Greg Withnail says

    I think Grammar Girl would want to know what happened to the hyphen in the title of this post. (Unless it is an instruction to five people.)

  7. Three out of five are also favorites of mine. I didn’t know the Grammar Girl’s and I thank you for telling us about it. I’m not an English native speaker and I love to get my hands on good grammar books!
    Thanks again.

  8. Love your list, Lynne. JC and Grammar Girl are my favorites. I would like to add to the list. Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write and the Sound of Paper are excellent reads and reference. Also, a writer would want at least one book by Bill Bryson; Dictionary of Troublesome Words is my pick. Peter Bowerman’s The Well Fed Writer has always held a place in my library as well.

  9. Love your 5 selections Lynne! I also keep returning to my favorite fiction books for examples of simply stellar writing that inspire and amaze me with their evocative descriptions and their unfailing ability to hold my rapt attentions…Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides, Mark Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale and others…

    • Oh, I love Pat Conroy. A Winter’s Tale was so unique and really made me think. My favorite fiction book of 2012 was The Night Circus. I bet you’d love it.

  10. Thank you for this information – it is just what I need.
    I never thought of myself as a writer, but since having a blog am writing every day. I realize how boring I write.
    I will certainly purchase your recommendations.

    • Doreen, I don’t think your writing is boring at all. Every writer has their own unique voice, and while we can always improve, above all, you want to tap into who you are to deliver your message.

  11. One book I like to dip into from time to time is “Robert’s Rules of Writing: 101 Unconventional Lessons Every Writer Needs to Know” by Robert Masello. Short, bite-size tips that can really spur one’s creative thinking or move you out of writer’s block.