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Books for Writers: 15 Great Books to Give a Writer for Christmas

Updated on June 1, 2010

 Writers love to read. That’s basically a fact. And a lot of writers like to read books that are about writing. That’s because these are the books that they can relate to. These are the books that teach them the tricks of their trade. And these are the books that act as friends with whom they can commiserate and celebrate the ups and downs of making your living as a writer.

If there’s a writer in your life (or someone who really wants to be a writer) then it’s a safe bet that they’ll enjoy it if you get them a book for Christmas. Any book will probably do but it’s even better if you can get them a good book that’s related to writing.

Here’s a look at 15 great books for writers:

1. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. This book is probably one of the most popular books out there among writers. It’s a great instructional book that teaches you about the craft of writing and provides you with exercises that get your writing hand moving. If the writer in your life doesn’t already have this one on his or her bookshelf then it’s a must-buy item for you to purchase this year.

2. Fearless Confessions by Sue Silverman. This new book is a really great book for anyone who has ever had an interest in memoirs. Silverman wrote two memoirs of her own before writing this book which teaches you how to write a memoir. She writes this lesson guide in memoir style so it’s a fun read as well as one that’s educational for writers.

3. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This is another one of those books like Goldberg’s that provides instructional information about the writing life and has made it into the hands of a majority of writers. It’s a great one to read if you haven’t read it in awhile though so don’t be afraid to give this to a writer friend even if you think she may have read it in the past.

4. Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing by Patricia T. O’Conner. I think that the title of this one pretty much sums it up!

5. Pen On Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett.  This is another one that you don’t have to learn much about beyond the title because it tells you what you’ll find inside. Nevertheless, what is inside is quite valuable for writers.

6. On Writing by Stephen King. There are pros and cons to this book for writers. If you like Stephen King then it’s neat because you get some insight into his writing process. It’s not my top pick for a must-have book but it’s a good read and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

7. Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk about Their Dreams and the Creative Process by Naomi Epel. Stephen King is actually included in this anthology as well and I happen to think that this is a better book overall than his own book on writing. Fairly well-known authors describe the writing experience here in a way that writers of all levels can relate to.

8. The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin. This is another collection of essays but they are all by a single author. She’s written other books on writing as well and any are a good choice as a gift for a writer but this one really spans a lot of topics and so it has wide appeal.

9. Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer by Bruce Holland Rogers. This is another book that really gives you some practical insight into the issues that writers deal with just in living their daily lives as working writers.

10. The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries by Marilyn Johnson. Admittedly this is a bit of an odd choice but as a writer I really enjoyed this book. It’s all about the process of writing obituaries – of taking someone’s life and turning it into a short paragraph that sums up what makes them special. That’s an art that not all writers (or maybe even most writers) could handle and I think it’s interesting to learn about how it’s done.

11. Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry by Jane Hirshfield. There are a lot of books out there specifically for poets. Most of these are about “how to write poetry”. This one goes beyond that and looks at how to think like a poet and to see poetry in life.

12. The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Dianne Jacob. If the writer in your life happens to be a food writer (or a writer who also lives to cook) then he or she will really appreciate this particular book on a great writing niche.

13. The Artist’s Way trilogy by Julia Cameron. This set of creativity exercise books (which starts with The Artist’s Way and also includes two that followed that one) are a great tool for any writer who wants to get more creative. They’re for all artists but writers can really gain something from them.

14. Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper by SARK. In fairness, I haven’t read this book yet because it’s new (and it’s on my own Christmas wish list). However, I think that SARK is a really fun, creative writer who always inspires me as a writer even when her books aren’t about writing. This one is supposed to be a guide for encouraging yourself to just go ahead and give yourself permission to write and I think it looks like a great choice for writers this year!

15. Writer’s Market. I get this book for myself almost every year even though I don’t always end up using it. There’s something about having it that makes me feel like a “real writer” in a way that merely bringing in a paycheck from my writing doesn’t. There are plenty of online options for finding writers’ markets these days but I still happen to think this is a great book to receive for Christmas and I believe that other writers will as well.


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  • profile image

    Jana 3 years ago

    elsewhere,doesn'tDo a search onlnie. I used to see ads here on this site, and for black/white romance but can't remember the name(s) of the site(s). Sorry.They are out there though, and some people also join general' dating sites (, eharmony, etc) and search for people of other skin colors as well. It have to be a specialty site for that. ???

  • Tom.Gilbert profile image

    Tom.Gilbert 8 years ago from The North Pole

    These are excellent choices, Kathryn. I'm definitely going to pick up a copy of Writing Down the Bones and I might check out the The Dead Beat too. For my part, I'd suggest A Collection of Essays by George Orwell & The Art and Craft of Feature Writing by William Blundell.

  • Nan Mynatt profile image

    Nan Mynatt 8 years ago from Illinois

    Thanks for your research, I am going to check out some of the books. I'll go to the library to see if they have copies first, so I can decide which ones to purchase.

  • dohn121 profile image

    dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

    Wow! I feel really good after reading this hub, Kathryn, as I own about 5 of these books already! Every year, I buy the new version of Writer's Market for Novel and Short Stories. I'm in the process of submitting a few of my short stories to a couple of contests. Many of these books are a must have as the lessons they teach should not by any means taken lightly. Thank you!