The Best Books Every Aspiring Writer Should Read

(These books are instructive books about writing, not examples of great books!)

If you’re a writer, there’s a high chance you’ve stumbled upon one or two of these books before. Each one contains a mountain of practical advice for you to insert into your creative process, to help you get the most out of your writing, whether you’re writing novels, a memoir or even short stories. These books will help you with all aspects of your writing process, from character development, to helping you with your sense of style. Each of these books is practically guaranteed to help you level-up and become the successful writer you have within you.

Some of these books are written by history’s great writers, so you know you’re getting practical advice from the best writers around. Many of the industry’s greatest literary agents hail these books for any aspiring author to develop great writing, and a story structure that makes sense to lead them into a successful writing career. If you’re looking to become traditionally published in creative writing, get some of these fantastic books on your reading list –trust us, you won’t regret it!

If you’re a writer, check out our writing series – Writing 101, by published author Byran Fagan!

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King, 2010

Stephen King On Writing A Memoir of the Craft cover

From all-time and New York Times Bestseller, Stephen King.

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb 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 inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Amazon Rating: 4.7/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.33/5

This book is for you if: you want to read about Stephen King’s writing journey

(if we’re being honest, this book is an absolute must-read for any writer ever)

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott cover

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom passed down from Anne’s father—also a writer—in the iconic passage that gives the book its title:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

An essential volume for generations of writers young and old, Bird by Bird is a modern classic. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition will continue to spark creative minds for years to come.

Amazon Rating: 4.6/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.24/5

This book is for you if: you’re looking for help with your creative process

Ernest Hemingway on Writing, Larry W. Phillips

Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Phillips cover

Throughout Hemingway’s career as a writer, he maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing—that it takes off “whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk’s feathers if you show it or talk about it.”

Despite this belief, by the end of his life he had done just what he intended not to do. In his novels and stories, in letters to editors, friends, fellow artists, and critics, in interviews and in commissioned articles on the subject, Hemingway wrote often about writing. And he wrote as well and as incisively about the subject as any writer who ever lived…

This book contains Hemingway’s reflections on the nature of the writer and on elements of the writer’s life, including specific and helpful advice to writers on the craft of writing, work habits, and discipline. The Hemingway personality comes through in general wisdom, wit, humor, and insight, and in his insistence on the integrity of the writer and of the profession itself.

Amazon Rating: 4.4/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.09/5

This book is for you if: you want to be come a better writer all-round

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield cover

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid the road blocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dream business venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectivelyshows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.

Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.

Whether an artist, writer or business person, this simple, personal, and no-nonsense book will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

Amazon Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.99/5

This book is for you if: you want to solve your inner creative battles (even ones that go beyond writing)

The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White cover

You know the authors’ names. You recognize the title. You’ve probably used this book yourself. This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered. This book’s unique tone, wit and charm have conveyed the principles of English style to millions of readers. Use the fourth edition of “the little book” to make a big impact with writing.

Amazon Rating: 4.7/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.18/5

This book is for you if: you like writing guides that will help you with grammar, elegance and style in your writing skills

Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury, 1992

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury cover

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on  a land mine. The land mine is me. After the  explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the  pieces back together. Now, it’s your turn. Jump!”  Zest. Gusto. Curiosity. These are the qualities  every writer must have, as well as a spirit of  adventure. In this exuberant book, the incomparable  Ray Bradbury shares the wisdom, experience, and  excitement of a lifetime of writing. Here are  practical tips on the art of writing from a master of  the craft-everything from finding original ideas to  developing your own voice and style-as well as the  inside story of Bradbury’s own remarkable career  as a prolific author of novels, stories, poems,  films, and plays. Zen In The Art Of Writing is more than just a how-to manual for the  would-be writer: it is a celebration of the act of  writing itself that will delight, impassion, and  inspire the writer in you. In it, Bradbury  encourages us to follow the unique path of our instincts  and enthusiasms to the place where our inner genius  dwells, and he shows that success as a writer  depends on how well you know one subject: your own  life.

Amazon Rating: 4.4/5

Goodreads Rating: 4.08/5

This book is for you if: you’re looking for outside-the-box ideas to make your writing style unique

The Writing Life Annie Dillard, 2013

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard cover

From Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Dillard, a collection that illuminates the dedication and daring that characterizes a writer’s life.

In these short essays, Annie Dillard—the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and An American Childhood—illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that characterize the existence of a writer. A moving account of Dillard’s own experiences while writing her works, The Writing Life offers deep insight into one of the most mysterious professions.

Amazon Rating: 4.4/5

Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5

This book is for you if: you’re looking for an all-rounder from the personal experience of a successful author.

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