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Top ten books on writing by famous authors

If you like Stephen King’s book On Writing….

Books on writing by writers for writers

The Broke and the Bookish

Writers are a voracious lot. They gobble up words and devour ideas. They are ardent about their characters and hot for plots. They consume books. When it comes to their peers, most writers turn into stickybeaks. They want to know everything: their habits, their writing processes, their creative challenges, even their dreams. Whenever a famous writer lifts the veil, a throng of fellow writers surge forward to inhale the magic.

Stephen King from the cover of On Writing

Stephen King at work

So it’s not surprising that when the prolific and famous Stephen King finally wrote “On Writing” more than ten years ago, the book became an instant classic. King’s book is as much about the craft as it is about his writing life. Of course, one book is never enough. The following books should satisfy any writer’s lust for more.

More books on writing by bestselling writers

  1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott — This is a perennial favorite by writers young and old. If you want inspiration to push through a draft, this is the place to go.
  2. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard — I came across this book when I first began writing and loved it. She lays it all out: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  3. Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury — Any regular reader is going to know Bradbury’s book will make the list. I love this book. Bradbury speaks to the heart of a writer the way few can. This is a must read for any and all writers.
  4. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) by Francine Prose — Often a neglected skill, Prose gives us an excellent example of how one writer approaches reading and why.
  5. 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley — Don’t let the size of the book scare you. There are 13 main chapters and then 100 entries that detail her reading of 100 novels. I often open up this book and dip into a chapter and drink deep. If you’re writing a novel or have aspirations to write a novel or are simply reading novels and sometimes wonder about the writer’s process, this is a book for you. Love it.
  6. Talking About Detective Fiction (Vintage) by P. D. James — Not just a book for mystery buffs, this is a wonderful book for anyone interested in reading the classics or simply writing a novel. P.D. James is a masterful writer and delves deeply into the wide range of her chosen realm.
  7. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood — Slightly different is Atwood’s book since it contains six short stories as well as a handy mix of essays on the craft and field of science fiction. If you curious about the influences on Atwood and her thoughts about the genre she explores, this is for you. 
    In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood
  8. Ernest Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Phillips, editor — Culled from a variety of sources including letters, essays and articles, the editor has pulled together a solid collection revealing Hemingway’s reflections, advice, and habits about his chosen craft. Perhaps more than any other, Hemingway had a profound influence on the last generation of writers. Discover what he really thought about this thing called writing.
  9. On Writing (Modern Library) by Eudora Welty — Long before Stephen King wrote his “On Writing,” Eudora Welty penned her thoughts on the mysterious craft in a book titled “On Writing.” Her essays are very different than the usual fare you’ll find. Definitely food for thought.
  10. Becoming a Writer by Dorethea Brande — This book on writing is a definite classic and far more than a treatise on technique. What is it like to be a writer? To live like a writer? What are the psychological pitfalls that get writers into trouble? This was already a classic when I read it as a young writer and it continues to help writers today.
  • If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland — A writer and a teacher of the craft, Ueland’s book has been a classic must-read for writers for more than fifty years. More than craft and technique, Ueland delves deep and delivers treasures to delight any and all writers. While offered as a bonus today, this is a book that deserves reading.

Tell me your favorites and share your experiences with these books or any other writing book by a famous author in the comment section below.


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? Join The Classics Club. My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project. Short story lovers, check out The Short Stories Challenge.

  • IMAGE & AFFILIATE CREDITS: Book covers and titles are affiliate links and sourced via Amazon; Cover photo of Stephen King by Jill Krementz via Amazon

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  • Kcherry

    My book Girl in a Library: On Women Writers & the Writing Life may interest you.

  • elena

    I am not a writer but it’s so interesting to read about writers and their craft! Perhaps one of these books would make me be a better writer. :)

  • Vikk Simmons

    Well, you never know. :) Even if ;you don’t write, if you’re interested in the creative process or any of these authors, their thoughts on the craft and process might be interesting. They always give me something to think about. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks for the recommendation. Always looking for new and good books to read and review.