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31 In Books/ Writing

Books You Should Read If You Want to Write

In the quest to become an author, I’ve started reading books about writing. I’ve heard repeatedly; to write, you must read a lot. And I do read a lot! I’d have a hell of a lot of trouble running a literary magazine and hosting a literary podcast if I didn’t! But I only really read fiction. When I stray from fiction, it’s personal essays or poetry. I hadn’t really delved into reading books specifically about writing, until this year. The following contains my top five books you should read if you want to write.

As I have heard repeatedly; to write, you need to read. The following are my top 5 books you should read if you want to write. If you have any other ones to add to the list, add them to the comments below. I still have about 3 shelves on my new bookcase that need to be filled up!

On Writing by Stephen King

My mum bought me this book for my birthday. She listened to one of my podcast episodes where a guest author recommended it to me. And then another author. And then another. It seems you don’t often come across an author who doesn’t recommend this book for aiding your writing process. And so, my mum thought she’d best grab me a copy!

I already love Stephen King, my favourite reads of his are Carrie, The Shining and Doctor Sleep. And I’d heard brilliant things about his personal writing process, particularly about how he drafts novels. I had high hopes for On Writing, and it lived up to them! Stephen King cuts the bullshit and has a no-nonsense approach to writing processes. He just tells it how it is and is completely honest about his writing journey.

Reading like a Writer by Francine Prose

Can we just talk about how fitting and slightly punny it is that an author who writes about writing’s last name is ‘Prose’? I hope I’m not the only one who enjoys that.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the most important pieces of advice I’ve received from authors and from the books I’ve read about writing, is that to write, you need to get reading. Read whatever you have available. Anything you can get your hands on.

Reading Like a Writer’s chapters are designated to a literary device. For example, one chapter is paragraphs. Others are narration, character, etc. It’s a guidebook rather than a narration on personal experience like On Writing, but just as important. It really helped me to focus on different aspects of writing.

102 Ways to Write a Novel by Alex Quick

I enjoyed this book, mainly because it’s short but sweet. Like Reading like a Writer, this book is a guidebook for aspiring authors rather than a narration of personal experience from an author. I believe (I could be wrong) Alex Quick is a journalist, who has published books (aside from this month) and with the knowledge he picked up, created this guide to aid aspiring writers through their own journeys.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

This book is slightly more like On Writing, if you’d prefer to read suggestions and personal experiences of writing. Anne Lamott also takes a similar ‘no bullshit’ approach to writing, again similarly to King, and de-bunks a lot of myths about writing and publishing. Anne Lamott is very ‘real’ and lets writers know exactly what to expect when publishing. And from her experience, she suggests it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs

This book was my least favourite of the bunch, but nonetheless, a brilliant book that’s served me through my writing. The reason I like this book a little less (though I still love it) is because it takes more of a ‘marketing’ approach, and I prefer the guides and narrations. This book could definitely help bloggers, business owners & marketers, as well as aspiring authors. Much of the book is focused on ‘sending a message’ and ‘gaining traction’ so you can see how the information translates to other industries. Despite being ‘businessy’, this is still one of the books you should read if you want to write! Jonah Sachs describes some really important anecdotes about storytelling, writing a story that will stand out from the crowd, and is generally inspiring.

Literally Anything by Anyone At All

Because that’s the main lesson we can take away from each of the books listed here.

So, that’s it! Those are my top books you should read if you want to write! If you have any other book suggestions for aspiring writers, please leave them in the comments! I’d love to read more.

This post contains affiliate links. If a purchase is made through these links, I get to put a few pennies in my piggy bank. But it costs the same to you!

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah
    May 14, 2017 at 7:01 am

    I really need to put some time aside and invest in a good book! X

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 16, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      It’s what I always recommend 🙂 x

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    May 14, 2017 at 9:25 am

    This is a great little post and I’ve added a few of these to my wishlist. Especially looking forward to the Stephen King one.

    Rebecca, libfemblog.com xo

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 16, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you! The Stephen King one is my favourite!

  • Reply
    Olivia m
    May 14, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I used to love reading I really need to get back into it!

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 16, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      My podcast has some good fiction recommendations!

  • Reply
    Miranda Nahmias
    May 14, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I needed a new book list to read through, so this is perfect! Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 16, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      You are welcome! 🙂 x

  • Reply
    Poppy Mayy
    May 15, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I think I read about 75% of these books when I did creative writing at university 🙈 But I agree they seriously help your own writing ❤️

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      I do creative writing at uni as well! & They do! 🙂 x

  • Reply
    Helena Mulhearn
    May 15, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Ow ill have to write these down on my list!

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 16, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      Great! 🙂 x

  • Reply
    Natasha
    May 15, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I’d love to read a few of these

    Tasha x

    http://itsatashathing.blogspot.com/

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      They’re great! 🙂 x

  • Reply
    Amy Taylor
    May 28, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    I really want to start writing, I’ve tried so many times but I never get very far with it. I’ll defo give some of these books a go! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 29, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      You’re welcome! Good luck with your writing! 🙂

  • Reply
    Hayley Fearnley
    May 29, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    This is such a helpful list, and I never even thought of using books to help me write, even though it’s so obvious!

    Hayley | http://www.crueltyfreehayley.com x

    • Reply
      Beth
      May 30, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Thank you, glad you found it helpful! And don’t worry, it took me far too long to think about it haha!

  • Reply
    Heather
    June 9, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Great list of books. I have a friend who is thinking of writing a book, I’ll be sure to share these with her.

    • Reply
      Beth
      June 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you, Heather! I hope this helps her out! x

  • Reply
    Joy
    June 10, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Definitely adding a few of these to my wishlist! Thank you for the post 🙂

    • Reply
      Beth
      June 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      You are welcome, Joy! xx

  • Reply
    Andolina
    June 15, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I love it. And so much yes to “On Writing” I own it. I would also suggest the writer’s digest 2017 Writer’s Market. It has something in it for every kind of writer.

    • Reply
      Beth
      June 15, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      I haven’t read that one, I’ll give it a go. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    July 10, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    I shall get myself a copy of “On Writing”. I read a lot as it is a hobby that my dad really wanted us to have. I started reading Jules Verne when I was kid; I agree that reading anything will improve your writing for sure!

    • Reply
      Beth
      July 11, 2017 at 8:51 am

      You should, it’s fantastic! & It sounds like such a cliche tip but it’s so true x

  • Reply
    Tereza
    July 11, 2017 at 4:39 am

    This is super useful – I’ve never actually thought of reading books about writing. Which looking at it now seems a bit silly not to haha. I just read SO many fiction books that these took a proper backseat. x

    • Reply
      Beth
      July 11, 2017 at 8:52 am

      I didn’t start thinking about it properly until about a year ago. It’s something so obvious but so many somehow miss it haha! & Fiction books help LOADS too so don’t worry! xx

  • Reply
    Jenny
    July 11, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Some great suggestions there, I have always wanted to write I just need to get it sorted and stop procrastinating!

    • Reply
      Beth
      July 11, 2017 at 8:52 am

      Story of my life! xx

  • Reply
    Helene
    July 11, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I haven’t read any of this books but i would love to read the ”on writing” by Stephen King. And your last suggestion is much so good, i love reading everything all the time!
    Helene // Beautiful Is My Attire

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