The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White
Essential. All writers need to have this book on their desks—and refer to it often. Your clearer, less cluttered, and grammatically correct prose will thank you.
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
A classic. Lamott combines excellent writing advice with humor and the important information that good writing takes time and revisions.
On Becoming a Novelist, John Gardner
One of those books you can sit down with, open up anywhere, and read something valuable.
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Zinsser
For me, Zinsser’s most important advice is on writing with clear, powerful prose. Avoid jargon, weak sentence structure, vague words …
Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose
Learning how to read critically is essential for a writer. And Prose has a great list of recommended books and short stories.
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, Janet Burroway
Of all the books I own that address technical aspects of writing a novel, this is the one I always go to first.
Steering the Craft, Ursula Le Guin
Le Guin addresses technical aspects of writing in this readable book, but more importantly focuses on craft—how to work at and better the craft of writing. Her exercises are excellent.
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg
For inspiration, for providing the push to get a writer to sit down and write, no book is better.
On Writing, Stephen King
Although King has some excellent pieces of how-to-write advice, his story of how his writing and writing career developed is the best part of this book.
Moments of Being, Virginia Woolf
It’s Virginia Woolf. What more needs to be said?