30 Essential Books for Every Writer

By Jacqui Murray Every writer I know has a bookshelf full of books they’ve purchased to help inspire the writing process. In my case, I have so many, I’ve pretty much lost track of them. Except for those that I can’t write without. In my office, I have my computer table, an oak rolltop desk close enough my left elbow bumps it when I really get going on the keyboard and behind me, about two feet away, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf of reference books. Those books are constantly ibn motion. I pull them out by piles, stack them on my desk and riffle through them to augment partikcular parts of my stories. Sometimes, I’m looking for facts on nature, animals, buildings. Other times, I’m working through some prickly syntax. Either way, there are those books I can’t write without. Here’s my list. Read through it. Tell me what your list looks like:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Bill Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors, by Bill Bryson Blockbuster Plots: Pure and Simple, by Martha Alderson Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage, by Theodore Bernstein Creating Character Emotions: Writing compelling fresh approaches that express your characters’ true feelings, by Ann Hood Elements of Style by EB White First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, by Noah Lukeman Garner’s Modern American Usage, by Bryon Garner How to Write A D*** Good Novel, by James Frey Lexicon, by William F. Buckley Jr. Marshall Plan for Novel Writing: A 16-step program guaranteed to take you from idea to completed manuscript, by Evan Marshall National Audubon Society Field Guide New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge Novel Writer’s Toolkit: A guide to writing great fiction and getting it published, by Bob Mayer Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus Oxford Book of Aphorisms, by John Gross Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words 1|Page

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Penguin Dictionary of Epigrams, by MJ Cohen Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence, by David Keirsey Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne Synonym Finder, by J. I. Rodale Webster Dictionary Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words That Work, by Jack Hart Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, by Linda Edelstein Writing from A to Z, by Sally Ebest Writing the Blockbuster Novel, by Albert Zuckerman Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider advice for taking your fiction to the next level, by Donald Maass Writing the Novel from Plot to Print, by Lawrence Block

The links are to book reviews I’ve done. It’ll be a while before I complete the entire list. I’d love to hear your list. Photo credit: Hubpages

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a tech-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher. Follow me.