Friday Top Five: Books About Writing

1IMG_20140109_105855. On Writing by Stephen King 
I had a thousand people recommend this one to me and finally picked it up a couple of years ago. It’s no-nonsense and highly-relatable, but somehow manages to be encouraging at the same time. Excellent reading for when you’re struggling with your writing.2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott 

This book is like sitting down to coffee with someone older, wiser and unafraid to speak truths. Lamott gets it—it’s as simple as that. Her chapters on revision and beta readers are particularly useful and I re-read them any time I’m sending out my work for others to read.

3. The Writers Home Companion 

My very first book on writing, given to me by my brother when I was 13. (Not that I actually understood anything about writing when I was 13. In fact, I still don’t understand much about writing…) Every essay in here is wonderful but my favorites are a blow-by-blow of how Elizabeth Bishop came up with “One Art” (complete with drafts of first version of the poem) and The Watcher at the Gates by Gail Godwin, about the critic inside all of us.

4. The Elements of Style, Strunk and White 

This needs no explanation. If it does, then go out and buy it.

5. The Paris Review: Interviews

My former boss at The Post,  David Hoffman, gave me this when he learned I was writing a book.  He’s an insightful journalist and editor, as well as a Pulitzer Prize winner, so he could have given me a book of Garfield comics and I’d probably have considered it gospel. But this book earns his—and everyone else’s—praise. I’m certain these are the best interviews of some of the world’s greatest writers. It’s also very quoteable, if you like that sort of thing.


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