Must Read List: Top 25 Best Books for Aspiring Writers

Written By Garry  |  Writing  |  0 Comments

Looking to excel as writer or an editor or self-publisher?

There is one essential practice that you must follow: immerse yourself in good books!

Reading widely and deeply is crucial to understanding what makes a "good book" and how to create one.

Whether you're drawn to fiction or nonfiction, history or humor, it's important to read widely within your chosen genre, as well as outside of it.

This will help you develop a keen sense of what works and what doesn't...

...and how to apply those lessons to your own work.

In addition to reading, it's also important to learn from the experts, about the craft of "building a book"... 

There are many books that offer guidance on the craft of writing, from the basics of grammar and style to the nuances of character development and plot construction.

And for those looking to make a career out of writing, there are books on how to find work, how to pitch your ideas, and how to make a living as a writer.

Below are some of the best books on writing and publishing.

No matter if you're just starting out...

...or you're a seasoned pro, these books will help you take your writing and publishing to the next level.

List of the Top 25 Best Books for Aspiring Writers to Read

The Chicago Manual of Style

by The University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff

This comprehensive guide to writing and publishing is considered the industry standard. It covers everything from grammar and punctuation to manuscript preparation and citation style.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

by Stephen King

Stephen King's memoir on writing is a must-read for any aspiring writer. In it, he shares his personal experiences and practical advice on everything from character development to plotting.

The Elements of Style

by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

This classic guide to English grammar and style is a quick and easy reference for anyone looking to improve their writing.

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

by John Gardner

John Gardner's book on the art of fiction is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their storytelling abilities. It covers everything from character development to narrative structure.

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers

by Betsy Lerner

This book provides valuable insights into the editorial process and offers practical advice on how to work with editors and agents to get your work published.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott 

Anne Lamott's guide to writing is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their craft. It covers everything from the importance of first drafts to the value of perseverance.


The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

by Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield's book is a great resource for anyone struggling with writer's block or other creative challenges. It offers practical advice and encouragement for overcoming creative obstacles.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity

by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury's book on the art of writing is a great resource for anyone looking to tap into their creative potential. It offers practical advice and inspiration for cultivating creativity.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

by Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp's book on the creative habit is a great resource for anyone looking to develop a sustainable creative practice. It offers practical advice and exercises for cultivating creativity and staying inspired.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

by Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker's guide to writing is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills. It covers everything from grammar and style to the use of language in the digital age.

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

by John Truby

John Truby's book on storytelling is a great resource for anyone looking to craft compelling narratives. It covers everything from character development to the use of theme and symbolism.

Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

by Blake Snyder

Blake Snyder's book on screenwriting is a must-read for anyone looking to write for film or television. It covers everything from structure and pacing to character development and dialogue.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

by Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg's book on writing is a great resource for anyone looking to tap into their creativity. It offers practical advice and exercises for overcoming self-doubt and finding your voice.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting

by Robert McKee

Robert McKee's book on screenwriting is a great resource for anyone looking to learn the principles of storytelling. It covers everything from character development to the use of dialogue and conflict.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

by Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell's classic book on mythology and storytelling is a great resource for anyone looking to understand the archetypal patterns that underlie many of our most enduring stories.

The Writing Life

by Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard's book on the writing life is a great resource for anyone looking to understand the creative process. It offers insights and reflections on the joys and challenges of writing.

The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase

by Mark Forsyth

Mark Forsyth's book on the art of rhetoric is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing style. It covers everything from metaphor and alliteration to hyperbole and puns.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

by Francine Prose

Francine Prose's book on reading and writing is a great resource for anyone looking to understand the craft of writing. It offers practical advice and exercises for improving your writing skills.

The Art of Memoir

by Mary Karr

Mary Karr's book on memoir writing is a great resource for anyone looking to write about their own life experiences. It covers everything from structure and pacing to the use of dialogue and description.

Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

by Roy Peter Clark

Roy Peter Clark's book on writing is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills. It offers practical advice and exercises for everything from sentence structure to story structure.

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

by Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron's book on creativity is a great resource for anyone looking to tap into their creative potential. It offers practical advice and exercises for overcoming creative blocks and staying inspired.

Becoming a Writer

by Dorothea Brande

Dorothea Brande's book on writing is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills. It covers everything from the importance of practice to the value of discipline and dedication.

The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. 1- 4

edited by The Paris Review

This features a collection of interviews with some of the greatest writers of the 20th century, including Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and William Faulkner. It offers valuable insights into the creative process and the craft of writing.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

by Renni Browne and Dave King

Renni Browne and Dave King's book on self-editing is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their editing skills. It covers everything from dialogue and point of view to pacing and plot.

The Business of Being a Writer

by Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman's book on the business of writing is a great resource for anyone looking to make a living as a writer. It covers everything from finding work to negotiating contracts to building a platform.

Whether you're an aspiring writer, editor, or self-publisher, these books offer valuable insights and practical advice for taking your craft to the next level.

From grammar and style to storytelling and creativity, these books cover everything you need to know to succeed in the competitive world of writing and publishing.

But now let's break it down into categories:

List of the Top 10-15 Books for Aspiring Writers

As an aspiring writer, reading is an essential part of developing your writing skills and style.

Exposure to a variety of writing styles and genres can inspire and inform your own writing, and reading can also help you to understand the publishing industry and market trends.

This post has the list of the best books for aspiring writers, including memoirs of the craft, books on story structure and character development, guides to the elements of style, and books on practical advice and overcoming writer's block.

Each book will be briefly described and its importance to a writer's development will be discussed.

  1. "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King - This classic guide to the craft of writing is part memoir, part how-to manual, and is essential reading for aspiring writers. King shares his personal story of how he became a writer, as well as his advice on the craft, including tips on plot, character, and dialogue. This book is a go-to guide for any writer, whether you're just starting out or have been writing for years.
  2. "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White - This short book is a comprehensive guide to the rules of grammar and style in the English language. It covers everything from punctuation to usage, and is an essential resource for any writer looking to improve their writing skills.
  3. "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield - This short, punchy book is a must-read for anyone struggling with writer's block or inner creative battles. Pressfield offers practical advice on how to overcome resistance and get to work, and his no-nonsense approach is both inspiring and motivating.
  4. "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott - Lamott's witty tone and personal anecdotes make this book an enjoyable read, but it's also packed with practical advice for aspiring writers. Lamott offers tips on everything from character development to finding your voice, and her focus on the writing process rather than the end result is refreshing.
  5. "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp - Tharp's book on creativity is a great resource for anyone looking to tap into their creative potential. It offers practical advice and exercises for overcoming creative blocks and staying inspired, and Tharp's emphasis on the importance of routine and discipline is especially useful for aspiring writers.
  6. "The Sense of Style" by Steven Pinker - Pinker's book on the art of writing is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing style. It covers everything from the use of metaphor and alliteration to the value of clarity and simplicity, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to write with style and flair.
  7. "The Anatomy of Story" by John Truby - Truby's comprehensive guide to story structure and character development is a great resource for anyone looking to write a good novel or screenplay. It covers everything from the importance of creating a strong protagonist to the role of conflict and theme in storytelling.
  8. "Save the Cat!" by Blake Snyder - Snyder's book on screenwriting is a must-read for anyone looking to write for film or television. It covers everything from structure and pacing to character development and dialogue, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to break into the world of screenwriting.
  9. "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell - This classic book on mythology and storytelling is a great resource for anyone looking to understand the archetypal patterns that underlie many of our most enduring stories. Campbell's exploration of the hero's journey is especially useful for writers looking to create memorable characters and compelling plots.
  10. "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard - Dillard's book on the writing life offers a unique perspective on what it means to be a professional writer. She covers everything from the inner creative battles writers face to the practical aspects of writing, such as finding a quiet place to work and managing your time effectively. This book is a great resource for anyone looking to turn their writing into a career.

Each of these books is a great resource for aspiring writers, offering practical advice and insights into the creative process.

By reading and learning from these books, aspiring writers can take the first step towards becoming successful authors.

Memoirs of the Craft

Memoirs about writing can be incredibly useful for aspiring writers, providing valuable insights into the creative process and the writer's life.

Let's explore some of the best memoirs of the craft, including classic works by Stephen King and Annie Dillard, as well as newer books by emerging writers.

Each book will be briefly described and its importance to a writer's development will be discussed.

  1. "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King - This classic guide to the craft of writing is part memoir, part how-to manual, and is essential reading for aspiring writers. King shares his personal story of how he became a writer, as well as his advice on the craft, including tips on plot, character, and dialogue. This book is a go-to guide for any writer, whether you're just starting out or have been writing for years.
  2. "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott - Lamott's witty tone and personal anecdotes make this book an enjoyable read, but it's also packed with practical advice for aspiring writers. Lamott offers tips on everything from character development to finding your voice, and her focus on the writing process rather than the end result is refreshing.
  3. "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard - Dillard's book on the writing life offers a unique perspective on what it means to be a professional writer. She covers everything from the inner creative battles writers face to the practical aspects of writing, such as finding a quiet place to work and managing your time effectively. This book is a great resource for anyone looking to turn their writing into a career.
  4. "Lit" by Mary Karr - Karr's memoir about her own writing journey is both honest and inspiring. She shares her struggles with alcoholism and depression, as well as the challenges of writing a memoir. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to write about their own life experiences.
  5. "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls - Walls' memoir about growing up in poverty is a great example of how personal narrative can be turned into compelling storytelling. This book is a great resource for anyone looking to write memoir or personal essays.
  6. "The Art of Memoir" by Mary Karr - Karr's guide to writing memoir is a great resource for anyone looking to tell their own life story. She covers everything from the ethics of writing about real people to the importance of structure and voice.
  7. "Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do" edited by Meredith Maran - This collection of essays by some of today's best writers offers a unique perspective on the creative process. Each author shares their own story of why they became a writer and how they approach the craft, providing valuable insights for aspiring writers.
  8. "Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir" by Lisa Dale Norton - Norton's guide to writing memoir is a practical and inspiring resource for anyone looking to tell their own life story. She offers step-by-step guidance on everything from finding your voice to structuring your story.

Memoirs about writing offer a unique perspective on the creative process and the writer's life, and can be incredibly inspiring for aspiring writers.

By reading and learning from these books, aspiring writers can take the first step towards becoming successful authors.

Story Structure and Character Development

Understanding story structure and character development is essential for aspiring writers.

A well-crafted story with fully developed characters is much more likely to engage readers and leave a lasting impression.

We've covered a lot already, but let's continue and explore some of the best books on story structure and character development, including classic works by John Truby and Joseph Campbell, as well as newer books by emerging writers.

Each book will be briefly described and its importance to a writer's development will be discussed.

  1. "The Anatomy of Story" by John Truby - Truby's comprehensive guide to story structure and character development is a great resource for anyone looking to write a good novel or screenplay. It covers everything from the importance of creating a strong protagonist to the role of conflict and theme in storytelling. The book is a step-by-step guide that includes practical exercises to help writers apply the lessons to their own work.
  2. "Save the Cat!" by Blake Snyder - Snyder's book on screenwriting is a must-read for anyone looking to write for film or television. It covers everything from structure and pacing to character development and dialogue, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to break into the world of screenwriting. The book is based on Snyder's own experience as a Hollywood screenwriter and includes practical advice on how to create a successful screenplay.
  3. "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell - This classic book on mythology and storytelling is a great resource for anyone looking to understand the archetypal patterns that underlie many of our most enduring stories. Campbell's exploration of the hero's journey is especially useful for writers looking to create memorable characters and compelling plots. The book is a comprehensive guide to the elements of storytelling, and is essential reading for anyone looking to write great fiction.
  4. "Story Genius" by Lisa Cron - Cron's book on story structure and character development is a great resource for anyone looking to write a novel. She emphasizes the importance of creating fully developed characters with their own unique perspectives and motivations. The book includes practical exercises to help writers apply the lessons to their own work, and is a great resource for anyone looking to take their writing to the next level.
  5. "The Art of Character" by David Corbett - Corbett's book on character development is a great resource for anyone looking to create compelling and complex characters. He emphasizes the importance of creating characters with depth and complexity, and provides practical advice on how to achieve this. The book includes exercises to help writers create more nuanced and realistic characters, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills.
  6. "Creating Character Arcs" by K.M. Weiland - Weiland's book on character development focuses on the importance of creating believable and engaging character arcs. She emphasizes the importance of creating characters that change and grow throughout the story, and provides practical advice on how to achieve this. The book includes examples from popular novels and movies to illustrate the lessons, and is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills.

Understanding story structure and character development is essential for aspiring writers.

By reading and learning from these books, writers can take the first step towards creating compelling and engaging stories with fully developed characters.

The Elements of Style

As an aspiring writer, understanding the rules of grammar and style is essential for creating clear, concise, and effective writing.

Some of the best books are listed below on the elements of style, including the classic "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, as well as newer books by emerging writers.

Each book will be briefly described and its importance to a writer's development will be discussed.

  1. "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White - This short book is a comprehensive guide to the rules of grammar and style in the English language. It covers everything from punctuation to usage, and is an essential resource for any writer looking to improve their writing skills. The book is concise and easy to follow, and is an excellent reference guide for writers of all levels.
  2. "The Sense of Style" by Steven Pinker - Pinker's book on the art of writing is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing style. It covers everything from the use of metaphor and alliteration to the value of clarity and simplicity, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to write with style and flair. The book is also a great resource for anyone looking to write for a popular audience.
  3. "Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace" by Joseph M. Williams - Williams' book on style is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills. He emphasizes the importance of clarity and simplicity in writing, and provides practical advice on how to achieve this. The book includes examples from popular writers to illustrate the lessons, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to take their writing to the next level.
  4. "The Elements of Eloquence" by Mark Forsyth - Forsyth's book on the art of rhetoric is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing style. He explores the various literary techniques that writers can use to create memorable and effective writing, and provides practical advice on how to apply these techniques to your own writing. The book is both informative and entertaining, and is a great resource for writers looking to add a bit of flair to their writing.
  5. "The Glamour of Grammar" by Roy Peter Clark - Clark's book on grammar and style is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the rules of grammar and style in order to create effective writing, and provides practical advice on how to apply these rules to your own writing. The book is both informative and entertaining, and is a great resource for writers looking to improve their writing skills.

Understanding the rules of grammar and style is essential for aspiring writers.

By reading and learning from these books, writers can take the first step towards creating clear, concise, and effective writing.

Practical Advice and Overcoming Writer's Block

Writing can be a difficult and frustrating process, and every writer experiences periods of writer's block at some point.

Now it's time to cover some of the best books on practical advice for writers...

...as well as strategies for overcoming writer's block.

These books offer valuable insights into the creative process, as well as practical tips for staying motivated and inspired.

  1. "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield - This short book is a great resource for anyone struggling with writer's block or a lack of motivation. Pressfield explores the inner battles that writers face when trying to create, and provides practical advice on how to overcome these obstacles. The book is both informative and inspiring, and is a great resource for anyone looking to take their writing to the next level.
  2. "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron - Cameron's book on creativity is a great resource for anyone looking to overcome writer's block and unleash their inner creative spirit. She provides practical exercises and strategies for staying motivated and inspired, and offers a unique perspective on what it means to be a writer. The book is both informative and inspiring, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to develop their creativity.
  3. "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott - Lamott's book on writing is a great resource for anyone looking for practical advice on the creative process. She offers tips on everything from character development to finding your voice, and provides strategies for overcoming writer's block and staying motivated. The book is both informative and entertaining, and is a valuable resource for writers of all levels.
  4. "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg - Goldberg's book on writing is a great resource for anyone looking to overcome writer's block and tap into their inner creative spirit. She provides practical exercises and strategies for staying motivated and inspired, and offers a unique perspective on what it means to be a writer. The book is both informative and inspiring, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to develop their creativity.
  5. "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert - Gilbert's book on creativity is a great resource for anyone looking to overcome writer's block and unleash their inner creative spirit. She provides practical advice and strategies for staying motivated and inspired, and offers a unique perspective on what it means to be a writer. The book is both informative and inspiring, and is a valuable resource for anyone looking to develop their creativity.
  6. "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maass - Maass' book on writing is a great resource for anyone looking to improve their writing skills and overcome writer's block. He offers practical advice on everything from plot development to character arc, and provides strategies for staying motivated and inspired. The book is both informative and entertaining, and is a valuable resource for writers of all levels.
  7. "The Emotional Craft of Fiction" by Donald Maass - Maass' book on the emotional aspects of writing is a great resource for anyone looking to develop deeper and more nuanced characters. He offers practical advice on how to create fully-realized characters with depth and complexity, and provides strategies for overcoming writer's block and staying motivated. The book is both informative and inspiring, and is a valuable resource for writers looking to take their writing to the next level.

Understanding the creative process and developing strategies for overcoming writer's block is essential for aspiring writers.

By reading and learning from these books, writers can take the first step towards developing their creativity and creating compelling and engaging writing.

Conclusion

As an aspiring writer, editor or self-publisher, the journey to becoming successful can be a challenging one.

However, with the right tools and resources, it is possible to develop the skills needed to understand what makes compelling and engaging stories.

In this post, we have explored some of the best books for aspiring writers, editors or self-publishers, including memoirs of the craft, story structure and character development, the elements of style, and practical advice for overcoming writer's block.

Reading the books on this list can help you develop the craft needed to take writing, editing and self-publishing to the next level.

By learning from the greats who have come before us, we can gain valuable insights into the creative process and develop the skills needed to write engaging and memorable stories.

From Stephen King's classic "On Writing" to Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way," each book offers valuable insights into the creative process and provides practical advice for aspiring writers.

Whether you're looking to develop your writing style, create fully-realized characters, or overcome writer's block, there is a book on this list that can help you achieve your goals.

Ultimately, the key to becoming a successful writer, editor, or self-publisher is to read widely, write consistently, and never give up on your dreams.

With the right tools and resources, anyone can develop the skills needed to create engaging and memorable stories, edit and refine the work of others, or self-publish their own book.

So, pick up a book, sit down at your desk, and start writing, editing, and prepare your new masterpieces to be self-published. 

The world is waiting to hear your story!