9 Books on Reading and Writing


Taken from Brain Pickings (via kobo writing life) which is a really good website on what’s out there in relation to creativity, thinking, culture and art. These books are highly recommended. I have read most of them and would especially recommend Elements of Style and On Writing.

 01 elements of style 1The Elements of Style Illustrated –  marries Maira Kalman’s signature whimsy with Strunk and White’s indispensable style guide to create an instant classic.


 02 bird by bird 2Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott – the 1994 classic is as much a practical guide to the writer’s life as it is a profound wisdom-trove on the life of the heart and mind.


 03 on writing 3On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King – part master-blueprint, part memoir, part meditation on the writer’s life.


  04 zen in the art 4Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You, Ray Bradbury  –  Bradbury shares not only his wisdom and experience in writing, but also his contagious excitement for the craft.


 05 war of art 5The War of Art: Break Through the Block and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield  — a personal defense system of sorts against our greatest forms of resistance. “Resistance” with a capital R, that is.


 06 advice to writers 6Advice to Writers, Jon Winokur – From how to find a good agent to what makes characters compelling, it spans the entire spectrum from the aspirational to the utilitarian.


 07 how to write a sentence 7How to Write a Sentence, And How to Read One, Stanley Fish – an insightful, rigorous manual on the art of language that may just be one of the best such tools sinceThe Elements of Style.


 08 hemingway on writing 8Ernest Hemingway on Writing, Larry W. Phillips – a collection of  the finest, wittiest, most profound of Hemingway’s reflections on writing, the nature of the writer, and the elements of the writer’s life.


 09 how to read a book 9How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler & Charles van Doren – from  basic reading to systematic skimming and inspectional reading to speed reading, the how-to’s apply as efficiently to practical textbooks and science books as they do to poetry and fiction.



  1. Josephine Hicks says:

    I love Bird By Bird, there is also a book by Natalie Goldberg called ‘Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within’, recommended by my super eccentric poetry professor (his sons are called Orlando and Ulysses!) and I really love this book too. Also anything from Writers and Artists is great, and my final suggestion is ‘The Five Minute Writer’ – not exactly on topic, but it’s full of lots of five minute exercises designed to start writers off on an idea! Hope this is helpful, and thank you for the list 🙂


    1. fcmalby says:

      Thank you, Josephine,
      Writing Down the Bones sounds interesting and I can only imagine what your Poetry teacher would call his pets!
      The writing exercises also sound helpful. Thanks for your comments and ideas and I’m glad the list was useful.


  2. Nina Badzin says:

    This is a fantastic list. I’ve read many of these but would like to read them all. There’s a new book out on prose . . . has the name prose in the title and I’ve seen it mentioned on Twitter a lot. I can’t remember the author or the title though. Isn’t that just a super helpful suggestion!?


    1. fcmalby says:

      Thanks, Nina. There are so many great books on the craft of writing. I’ll keep an eye out for the prose title.


  3. Cátia Silva says:

    Very helpful. Thanks


    1. fcmalby says:

      I’m glad it was useful, Cátia.


  4. Gwen says:

    I’ve heard nothing but great things about Stephen King’s On Writing. Maybe it’s time I picked it up. Great post.


    1. fcmalby says:

      Hello Gwen,
      It’s well worth reading and it is also really personal, giving you a glimpse into his life which is also interesting. Thanks for your comment.


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