Five books on writing for writers, and the people who love them



Now that I have two kids under two (not a typo), I can barely find time to wash my hair let alone spend the time searching for the perfect holiday gifts for the people on my list. Which is why I now do things like Google “perfect gifts for the ___ in your life.”

So if I were to Google “perfect gifts for the WRITERS in your life,” I would hope to come across a list like this because it would make my life that much easier.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott – My bible. Many people’s bible. Anne is like your favorite weird aunt whose kitchen you just want to sit in for hours on end basking in her hard-earned wisdom. You can find it here.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – I think this was the first book on writing I ever read, long before I had the courage to start. His humility is still so clear in my mind.

Writers (On Writing): Collected Essays from the New York Times – I used to read this in the bath. Richard Ford’s piece about how not writing is still writing is terrific.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg -When I first decided to offer my writing workshops, Natalie Goldberg was my patron saint as I came up with the structure and content. There’s a lot out there about structure, plot, etc., but first you have to get to the place where you’re actually writing. This book will get you there.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland – I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, but I remember when I read it that I thought that if Brenda Ueland had a church, I would go worship there. Published in 1938, this is a 168-page love letter to aspiring writers.