Amy’s Favorite Writing Books

In honor of the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association’s writing conference this weekend, I’m posting my favorite books for writers.  These book are tools to help you become better at your craft, whatever stage you’re at in the writing profession.


1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

A great little book to get you in the mood for writing.  Veteran writer Anne Lamott talks you through her perspective about writing, with her often “colorful” language but highly practical tips.  If you feel called to write but don’t know where to start, this is a good place to go first.


2. On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Zinsser’s guide is a classic text giving tips on both style and approaching different forms of nonfiction.


3. Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker

I use this text in all my classes. It’s my favorite style guide.  Hacker relies on MLA as her basic format, but she also lists other ones as well. If you have questions about how to use a comma or where to put quotes, Hacker is your woman.


4. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss

If grammar scares you, this is a fun book to make it a little less intimidating. Keep in mind that Truss is using British standard rules, so some of the comma rules rules are a little different than the US ones.  But, it’s hard to resist her playful attitude.  Shouldn’t we all have this much fun with grammar?


5. Get a Freelance Life, by Margit Feury Ragland

I suggest this book for anyone who wants to get published but doesn’t know where to start.  This book clued me in to the submission process for magazine articles.  It’s a great guide to getting your writing “out there.”

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love Eats, Shoots, and Leaves! There’s a kids’ version out now; I got Josh a copy, and he thinks it’s hysterically funny.

    AL: I can’t believe there’s a kids’ version. Get em’ to love grammar while they’re young! Mary, you’re a woman after my own heart. But, then again, I always knew that. =)

  2. I really like Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing by John R. Trimble.

    My favorite English Lit professor recommended this book in college and it’s been very useful to me. It stresses how important it is to be considerate of your reader and gives you good examples of what that looks like in various contexts. It also covers diction, good openers, grammar mishaps, punctuation, writing superstitions (aka stupid rules), etc.

    The best part is that it’s actually fun to read. The author is practicing what he preaches within his own book, which makes his advice very easy to swallow and gets me excited about writing.

    AL: What? A grammar book that’s fun to read? This I have to see. hehe. I’ll have to check it out to see if there’s some good material in there for my students, who are always struggling with the dry grammar books. Thanks!

  3. Amy, I think you would be impressed with Joshua’s teacher. These first-grade kids are learning parts of speech, parts of a sentence, how to write narrative and expository paragraphs, etc. It’s a fantastic curriculum, and the kids seem to really be enjoying what they’re learning. Josh loves it.

    I just got the biggest kick out of his reading Eats, Shoots, and Leaves and hearing him laughing over the misplaced punctuation (and then trying to explain it to Caleb!).

    AL: Holy cow, in first grade, we were focusing on not picking our noses and coloring inside the lines!

    • I can’t remember back that far, myself. 😉

      This year’s GPCS first-graders are a really bright bunch, I think, and it’s a small class, just 8 students. So they’re able to accomplish some things that a larger class might not be able to get through. In my last parent-teacher conference, the teacher and I were talking about this English curriculum and how to carry over some of what the kids are learning now when they move into second grade with a different teacher and different curriculum. It will be interesting to see what happens next year.

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