A List of 15 Go-To Books for Writers
Recently, I’ve been recycling a lot of my paperback books at our local community book swap. The first Sunday of each month, between noon and 2:00 PM, people in my community can drop books off the local grange and take books they want to read. No money is exchanged, and there is no limit to the number of books you bring or take. Volunteers sort the incoming books by subject, making it easy to find something you might want to read. To enhance the experience, local musicians often volunteer to play. Not only is the community book swap an excellent way to eliminate clutter, but it’s a great way to meet like-minded folks.
Most of the books I bring are fiction. Many have been sitting on a shelf collecting dust for years. So far, I’ve never missed a book I’ve given away, but it occurred to me that should I have a moment or regret, I can always download the same book onto my Kindle—a device that works for everything except reference books. This brings me to my go-to list.
There are certain books on my shelf that I will never loan or give away. These are my go-to books. The books I refer to when I’m writing, the books that contain the tools I depend on (proper: on which I depend).
While some writers are blessed with an almost innate ability to retain every rule of grammar and syntax they have ever read, I often need to look things up. Even then, when the content is really important, I run it by an editor. Because I know I’m not alone, I thought I’d share the list of books I will probably keep forever. Here they are in no particular order:
- The Oxford American College Dictionary
- Rogets Thesaurus
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- The Copyeditors Handbook by Amy Einsohn
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
- The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
- Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
- Tools of the Writer’s Craft by Sands Hall
- The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
- Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King
- How Fiction Works by Oakley Hall
- The Creative Writer’s Style Guide by Christopher Leland
And because every writer needs to understand Social Media….I’m including:
- 500 Social Media Marketing Tips by Andrew Macarthy
- The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Scott
What books are on your go-to list? They don’t have to be related to writing. The other books I hold on to are those that inspire me or contain words of wisdom.
Jan Fishler is the producer of the Path to Publication DVD series filmed at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers featuring Amy Tan, Janet Fitch, Mark Childress and other well-known authors, agents, and publishers. She is the author of Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir) and Flex Your Writing Muscle – 365 Days of Writing Prompts. She writes articles for VietNow National Magazine and has a bi-monthly column, “Healthy Options” in The Union newspaper.