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39 Great Books on Writing

Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

Stephen King, On Writing

Only Stephen King can put the truth into perspective quite like that. He kind of scares me, but then he scares most people. Stephen scares us by telling the truth and as we all know, there’s nothing scarier than honesty.

In this post you’ll find a list of books I’ve put together on writing. If you want to tell your truth, then there are books on this list that will help you do that.


The list:

1439156816  On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft  Stephen King


0385480016  Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life  Anne Lamott


0684854295 Ernest Hemingway on Writing  Ernest Hemingway


1877741094  Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity  Ray Bradbury


0060919884  The Writing Life  Annie Dillard


1585421472  The Artist’s Way  Julia Cameron


1936891026  The War of Art  Steven Pressfield


0062200445  Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True  Elizabeth Berg


1590302613  Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within  Natalie Goldberg


B004KAB7FI  Pen on Fire  Barbara DeMarco-Barrett


193290736X  The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers  Christopher E. Vogler


0060891548  On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction  William Knowlton Zinsser


0966517695  The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well  Paula LaRocque


0451627210  100 Ways to Improve Your Writing  Gary Provost


0615420826  Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing  Cheryl B. Klein


1585420093  The Right to Write: Invitation and Initiation.. Writing Life  Julia Cameron


B003H4QZOG  Write Good or Die  Scott Nicholson


1466256826  How to Speak and Write Correctly  Joseph Devlin


B005IURTJC  Write On!  Dan Mulvey


0028636945  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Well  Laurie E. Rozakis


0470546646  English Grammar For Dummies  Geraldine Woods


0767903099  Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose  Constance Hale


006184053X  How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One  Stanley Eugene Fish


0143036351  Why I Write  George Orwell


0553347756  Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life  Natalie Goldberg


 The Elements of Style Strunk and White


0874771641  Becoming a Writer  Dorothea Thompson Brande


0933377509 Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edit     Judith Barrington


1889715638  More Writer’s First Aid: Getting the Writing Done  Kristi Holl


0380715430  The Mother Tongue – English And How It Got That Way  Bill Bryson


0316014990 Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer  Roy Peter Clark


1450530001  Writing Lessons Learned: A Book Of Inspiration For Writers  Hope Wilbanks


0805070850  Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times  The New York Times


B000X1N440  Eats, Shoots  &  Leaves  Lynne Truss


1582970874  Write from Life  Meg Files


0399533958  Manuscript Makeover  Elizabeth Lyon


1582975213  The Little Red Writing Book  Brandon Royal


1582974926  Keys to Great Writing  Stephen Wilbers


0805074678  The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear  Ralph Keyes


A few more for the road:

0988523108  APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book  Guy Kawasaki


If You Want to Write Brenda Ueland

The No Plot? No Problem! Chris Baty

Structuring Your Novel K. M. Weiland

Sometimes the Magic Works Terry Brooks

You Are a Writer Jeff Goins

Writer’s Doubt: The #1 Enemy of Writing (And What YOU Can Do About It) by yours truly, Bryan Hutchinson

Add your favorite books on writing in the comments.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins



  • Marilynluinstra

    Great list. I will be referring to it more than once.

  •  Bryan, thanks for the list of great writing books. I began journaling after Cameron’s “Your Right to Write” and  “Writing Diet,” four years ago.  Before too long my words were asking me to give them voice.  It took for ever to consent but now I am almost ready to publish! Where were you one or two years ago? I wish I knew you and Jeff and other Tribers back then. Now I feel I have to publish soon…getting too old to make perfect. 🙂

    • That’s awesome you are getting ready to publish, Katina. I don’t know about 2 years ago, but what’s important is where you are and what you are doing now, which sounds amazing!

  • Thanks for the awesome list!  Your words always encourage me to let go of everything and just write from the heart.

  • Thank you for this list! There are several that I’ve never heard of so I’ve pinned this post for later. 

  • chrisd

    I’m so glad to see “The Courage to Write” on your list. I try to read it every year. I would also add “No Plot No Problem” by National Novel Writing Month Originator Chris Baty. Another personal favorite is a sweet little book called “Sometimes the Magic Works” by Terry Brooks; it’s like having a favorite uncle encourage you. Another book I try to read once a year.

  • Ben Gunty

    Thanks, Bryan, for the list – very cool. I also suggest If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, written (I think) in the 1920s. She’s really great and I’ve found the book to be inspirational on many levels.

    • Halbs

      My absolute favorite.

  • Pingback: 21 of the Best Quotes On Writing By Stephen King | Positive Writer()

  • Adron J. Smitley

    Excellent suggestions =-)

    Try MY book on writing: “Punching Babies: a how-to guide” by Adron J. Smitley available on Amazon.com/author/adronjsmitley

    It’s not just for novels, it’s also for screenplays =-)

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  • Great list I’ve shared with my writer group. Here’s one not on the list that is worth including: How to Write and Sell Your Novel…Handbook for the Beginning Novelist by R. Karl Largent.

  • sampson48791@mail.ru

    Thanks for the list of this 39 great books and I hope I’ll collect them as soon as possible. Because, I like to read books on my free time.

  • Tim Gatewood

    I’m sure someone has pointed this out already, but you have Writing Down the Bones on your list twice. 🙂

    I’d suggest adding Elements of Elegance, as it covers several techniques that were taught once upon a time, techniques that can turn dull writing into a masterpiece.

    • Great catch! For a quick fix, I moved Elements of Style up. Thanks!