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Top ten recent books that I hope writers are still reading In 30 years

Learning to write is found between the covers

Top Ten Tuesday Top Ten Books for WritersReading books continues to be one of the best ways to learn to write. Of course, the choice in reading material is vast, even more so these days with the flourishing self-publishing platforms. Some writers view how-to books on writing as unnecessary and insist that all that can be learned can be found within the covers of the classics or other published works. I would agree. Self-help books for writers were few until the last fifty years.

I’m not sure why there’s been such an explosion of writing books. Perhaps it’s due to the decline in reading. I’ve certainly run across way more beginning writers who readily admit they don’t have much of an interest in reading today than I ever did when my own writing journey began. Whatever the reason, there comes a time in most writer’s lives when they turn to books for help. Here are ten books, most published in recent years, that may offer some help or inspiration.

Books that continue to inspire, motivate, and mentor


  1. The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great (2009) by Donald Maass – Maass delivers. What else is there to say?
  2. Writing the Breakout Novel (2002) by Donald Maass – Read this if you intend to capture a large audience or have your heart set on writing a bestseller. 
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1) (1999) by J.K. Rowling – There are way too many reasons why every fiction writer should have the Harry Potter series close at hand. 
  4. The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel (2006) by Nancy Pickard – This is another work of fiction worth studying. How Pickard uses the a tornado to transform the story is wonderful. 
  5. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present (1997) edited by Philip Lopate – This is great to have close at hand simply for the introduction. 
  6. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) by Stephen King – It’s Stephen King, right? He speaks to the heart of every writer and reminds them of the need to study the craft. 
  7. A Matter For Men (The War Against the Chtorr, Book 1) (1989) by David Gerrold – What Gerrold does with the protagonist as an antihero is well worth studying. The character arc in this series is amazing. 
  8. The Lively Art of Writing (Mentor Series) (1969) by Lucille Vaughn – Well worth the money for the simple, straightforward explanation of the use of passive voice: the where, when, and how. 
  9. The Elements of Authorship: Unabashed Advice, Undiluted Experience, Unadulterated Inspiration for Writers and Writers-to-be (2000) by Art Plotnik – I’m an unabashed fan of Mr. Plotnik. I read a sentence and I’m inspired, and I’m often laughing out loud.
  10. Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity (1994) by Ray Bradbury – Pure joy. Pure pleasure. If Bradbury’s The Joy of Writing essay doesn’t get you motivated, you’re stone-cold dead.

How about you? Do you have a favorite book that has helped you on your writer’s path that you’d like to share? Use the comment section.

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Thanks to the folks at The Broke and The Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday weekly meme and for their Top Ten Tuesday image featured above. 
Ready to read the classics? My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project.
Note: Book covers and titles featured in post are Amazon affiliate links. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kheenandavies Karen Heenan-Davies

    Interesting post Viki. I too wonder how someone can be a writer and yet not be interested in how other people write. That’s a bit like being an architect and keeping your eyes closed as you walk through a city so you don’t notice what all your competitors are doing. Or being a doctor and not having an interest in new ideas on treatments etc. Are the writers who don’t read, frightened in case they read something far superior to their own efforts OR are they afraid they will get influenced and distracted from their own path? Would be a good question to ask maybe

  • http://www.downthewriterspath.com Vikk Simmons

    I know, Karen. I don’t really get it. What I find is that the conversation slips into movies within 20 minutes and books are left far behind. Talk centers around movies and their structure, plots, dialogue, etc. You’d think they never read anything. :) 

  • Yarereviews

    harry Potter should be read everywhere and by everyone. It’s such a brilliant series. :)
    my ttt; http://booknookgirl.blogspot.com/2012/06/top-ten-tuesday-any-topic.html

  • http://ajarndtbooks.blogspot.com/ Angela @ AJ Arndt Books

    How ironic is it that Ray Bradbury made your list with the announcement of his passing today? It’s the second time, so far, that I’ve seen him make Top Ten this week. What fantastic resources you’ve listed for writers!

  • http://www.downthewriterspath.com Vikk Simmons

    Yes, I’m very sad today after hearing the news. Obviously I’ll be posting about him later this week. He’s been a lifelong mentor for me, first on the page, and then in person. His words bring me joy. Thank heavens his words live on. 

  • http://www.downthewriterspath.com Vikk Simmons

    I would agree with your “brilliant” assessment. I remember the day I opened the first pages of the first book. I had finished work at the bookstore and was sitting in the cafe and thought I’d start the book while waiting for the traffic to die down and finish it over the weekend–It was a Friday night. I was still in the cafe when I finished the last page of the book and the store had just closed. :) Brilliant. 

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