Contributing editor Chuck Leddy, one of our excellent
long-standing book reviewers, put together our roundup of 10 great writing
books from 2010 for the December issue. Do you ever wonder which books have become the
reviewers’ personal favorites? If so, you’re in luck. Chuck and our other
regular reviewers were good enough to share their all-time favorite books on the craft, the ones they return to for inspiration and guidance. You can add
these to your wish list or gift list for your writer friends:
I would have to say Write Your Heart Out: Advice From the
Moon Winx Motel
by Geoff Schmidt, a novel-cum-writing book
that I reviewed for The Writer back in probably 2000, 2001. It was unlike any
other straight-ahead how-to-write book. I never knew a book could be so
original, so outside the lines of what I had read up until that point. I still
recommend Moon Winx in my writing workshops all these years later!
If you can’t take a class or workshop with Sands Hall (I’ve taken several of her offerings at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival), her
book Tools of the Writer’s Craft is probably the next best thing. Filled with essays and exercises—and the
invaluable instructions on “Making a Workshop Work” —this book holds a
treasured place on my bookshelf.
I love Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on
Writing and Life. She’s
unpretentious and wickedly funny, offering writing advice that’s applicable to
both emerging and established writers. I reread this book at least once a year,
particularly when I’m at work on a new manuscript, to remind myself to approach
the writing process with grace and humor.
My all-time favorite is William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. Aimed at nonfiction writers, it’s the best explanation of how to write clear
prose. Zinsser’s own writing is clear as glass, and his championing of clear
prose that grabs readers and takes them along for a ride continues to be
inspirational. I’ve read this book multiple times, and its practical lessons
continue to guide what I do with words.
Writing for Story by Jon Franklin. Decade after decade, this book inspires writers to craft compelling narrative
nonfiction through a mix of inspiration and perspiration. Franklin and his
wife, Lynn, sometimes refer to the book’s techniques in WriterL, their online
What’s your favorite book about writing?
C. Lange, associate editor