The Best Books on Writing for 2023
We are always looking for new books on writing to learn writing techniques and inspiration as we hone our craft. Here we share our favorite writing books to help you learn to express yourself in words.
Nonfiction writers should read more about how language works to describe the world around us. Learning about language order and grammar rules is an excellent foundation for creating stories and essays.
Fiction and nonfiction writers will find insight into how the creative process works in these books.
Don't just settle for one “how-to” book. Take notes and use examples from your writing projects to create a notebook that contains your best writing ideas. You'll realize that the best way to become a better writer is to think through your stories and essays using creative exercises and then revise them based on what you learn from these projects.
So, let's get started. Here are some books on writing suggestions we hope you'll find interesting.
FTC Disclosure: Bad Grammarian may receive compensation, with no added cost to you, from the products we showcase.
Become a better writer by reading:
“On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction” by William Zinsser
Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts, or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, “On Writing Well” offers you the fundamental principles and insights of a distinguished writer and teacher.
With more than a million copies sold, this book has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.
“The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr.
Elements of Style, by William Strunk, is a stable cornerstone to build your writing skills. Written in the storied hallways of Cornell University, the guide has been read and examined by thousands of eager eyes.
Elements of Style has grown to become the American English writing style guide often required in U.S. high school and university composition classes.
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style remains the ultimate resource for those who care about getting the details right.
This edition continues to reflect expert insights gathered from Chicago's staff and an advisory board of publishing experts across the profession. It also includes suggestions inspired by emails, calls, and even tweets from readers.
The Associated Press Stylebook
The AP Stylebook will help you master the AP's rules on grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, word and numeral usage, and when to use “more than” instead of “over.”
The AP Stylebook includes a comprehensive index to make navigating these specialty chapters even easier.
“Storycraft, Second Edition: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction” by Jack Hart
Since its publication in 2011, his book Storycraft has become the definitive guide to crafting narrative nonfiction.
In this new edition, Hart has expanded the book's range to delve into podcasting and has incorporated new insights from recent research into storytelling and the brain. He has also added dozens of new examples that illustrate compelling narrative nonfiction.
“Writing Fiction, Tenth Edition: A Guide to Narrative Craft” by Janet Burroway
A creative writer's shelf should hold at least three essential books: a dictionary, a style guide, and Writing Fiction. Janet Burroway's best-selling classic is the most widely used creative writing text in America, and for more than three decades, it has helped hundreds of thousands of students learn the craft.
This book is a master class in creative writing that also calls on us to renew our love of storytelling and celebrate the skill of writing well.
“The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression” by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman
The bestselling “Emotion Thesaurus” is often hailed as the gold standard for writers and credited with transforming how writers craft emotion.
One of the biggest struggles for writers is how to convey emotion to readers uniquely and compellingly. When showing our characters' feelings, we often use the first idea that comes to mind, and they end up smiling, nodding, and frowning too much.
If you need inspiration for creating characters' emotional responses that are personalized and evocative, this ultimate show-don't-tell guide for emotion can help.
“Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)” by Lisa Cron
In Story Genius, Lisa Cron takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of a novel from the first glimmer of an idea, to a complete multilayered blueprint—including fully realized scenes—that evolves into a first draft with the authority, richness, and command of a riveting sixth or seventh draft.
“Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” by Roy Peter Clark
“Writing Tools” has become a classic guidebook for novices and experts alike, and it remains one of the best-loved books on writing available. Organized into four sections, “Nuts and Bolts,” “Special Effects,” “Blueprints for Stories,” and “Useful Habits,” Writing Tools is infused with more than 200 examples from journalism and literature. This new edition includes five brand-new, never-before-shared tools.
“The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment” by Susan Thurman
This book is the ideal resource for everyone who wants to produce clear, concise, and grammatically excellent writing. Whether creating perfect professional documents, spectacular school papers, or effective personal letters, you'll find this handbook indispensable.
Everybody Writes: Your New and Improved Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content: 2nd Edition
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley is a guidebook for those looking to improve their writing skills, specifically in content marketing. This newly revised and updated edition provides readers with practical, actionable advice and insights on the process and strategy of content creation, production, and publishing. It covers various topics such as attracting and retaining customers with excellent online communication, choosing words wisely, crafting credible and trustworthy content, and more.
With updated examples, tools, resources, and a step-by-step writing framework, readers can access the latest information and insights on writing for marketing. This book includes 19 specific types of content marketers write, providing readers with the fundamentals of each. Handley's witty and practical approach to writing is sure to inspire and boost confidence in readers, making the writing process more enjoyable. By the end of this book, readers will have all the tools and knowledge necessary to create page-turning content that their audience will love consistently and that will deliver actual results.
“The Birds and Bees of Words: A Guide to the Most Common Errors in Usage, Spelling, and Grammar” by Mary Embree
This book features more than 1,000 words on the list of new and inventive words; and discusses nearly 30,000 more words in sections, including a look at word roots and how they are used in modern language; a list of commonly misspelled or misunderstood words; and a style guide to usage rules and how and why they can be broken.
Anyone intrigued by language, fascinated by words, or wants to use our language clearly and effectively will enjoy “The Birds and Bees of Words.”
“Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” by Mignon Fogarty
Written with the wit, warmth, and accessibility that the podcasts are known for, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing covers the grammar rules and word-choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers.
“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by 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.
One of TIME Magazine's Top 100 Nonfiction books of all time.
“Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott
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.
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.
“Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark” by Cecelia Watson
Through her rollicking biography of the semicolon, Cecelia Watson writes a guide to grammar that explains why we don't need guides at all and refocuses our attention on the deepest, most primary value of language: true communication.
“Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different” by Chuck Palahniuk
In this spellbinding blend of memoir and insight, bestselling author Chuck Palahniuk shares stories and helpful advice on what makes writing powerful and what makes for powerful writing.
With advice grounded in years of careful study and a keenly observed life, Palahniuk combines practical advice and concrete examples from beloved classics, his own books, and a “kitchen-table MFA” culled from an evolving circle of beloved authors and artists, with anecdotes, postcards from the road, and much more.
“Working” by Robert Caro
From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Power Broker” and “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” an unprecedented gathering of vivid, candid, deeply moving recollections about his experiences researching and writing his acclaimed books.
“Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer's Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book” by Courtney Maum
There are countless books on the market about how to write better, but very few on how to break into the marketplace with your first book. Cutting through the noise (and very mixed advice) online while dispelling rumors and remaining positive, Courtney Maum's “Before and After the Book Deal” is a one–of–a–kind resource that can help you get your book published.
“How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time” by Nina Amir
This book is a completely updated guide to writing and publishing a saleable book based on a blog. Expert author and blogger Nina Amir guides you through the process of developing targeted blog content that increases your chances of attracting a publisher and maximizing your visibility and authority as an author.
So keep reading, writing, and pushing yourself to become the best writer you can be. The journey is worth it, and the rewards are immeasurable.
What books are on your list? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
If you are looking for great online courses on writing, review our guide here.
Also, please take a look at our favorite books on Public Speaking.
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