Skip to main content

Books! Books! And more books!

-One of my overflowing bookcases-

I am obsessed with books. What writer isn’t? It’s a problem actually—the piles of books beside the nightstand, under the coffee table, all over the kitchen table. And then there are the three overflowing bookcases. My mother actually gave my husband and me a huge bookcase last year for Christmas—I still wonder where we’d put all those books beforehand? Now, the thing is stuffed and it seems we need yet another one. And the thing is—I am still asking for more books. Please! More! But there are so many you haven’t yet read, my husband says. More! I don’t care! I think it’s my only true obsession.

Here are some of my favorite books I’ve received in case you need some very last minute holiday gift ideas for the writer in your life... or well, if you want to add a book to your own list last minute.

  1. The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction. Love this chunky little book. It’s full of quotes and interviews and writing advice and it’s broken up into sections like Point of View, Theme, Dialogue. I love skimming specific sections when I’m stuck, have a craft issue, or just generally need a burst of inspiration.
  2. Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers. This book contains 23 conversations between “much admired writers and the writers they admire.” Tons of insights from writers like George Saunders, Tobias Wolff, and Jamaica Kincaid. I love reading interviews and these are even better—they’re more like eavesdropping on a personal writerly chat.
  3. The Elements of Style. My husband gave me this book last year. I love my red hardback version and its funky illustrations. Bonus: It looks good on the coffee table!
  4. Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market. It’s more about the business side of writing; it contains listings for publishers, magazines, literary agents, etc. Every writer ready to pursue publication should have the most recent one, I swear. There are also great interviews with writers and editors at the beginning of the book—a peek into the process of publication.
  5. The Artist’s Way. Oh my. I was gifted this years ago by a friend in college. My first real “writer inspiration” book. It’s really a creative and spiritual “course” (the book is broken up into a 12 week program) complete with exercises to help discover what type of artist you are, what roadblocks you may face, and ways to trudge on and through. It’s mind opening. I love both The Right to Write and The Sounds of Paper, too (also by Cameron). Both books are made up of inspiring personal essays combined with practical writing advice, prompts, and exercises.
  6. How I Write The Secret Lives of Authors. This was a gift I bought myself. It’s another great coffee table book, a hefty one filled with quotes by famous authors about how they write. There are some beautiful images in it, too. Rick Moody, Nicole Krauss, Melissa Bank and many other writers talk about their rituals, where they write, when they write, and more.
  7. Not really a book—but I always love receiving subscriptions to literary magazines. Some of my favorites are One Story, McSweeneys, and Tin House. A great gift that gives all year!

Obviously this list is mostly made up of non-fiction suggestions, but as a fiction writer I always believe that one of the best gifts one can give or receive is a copy of a favorite novel with a handwritten note inside. Those are the gifts I treasure most. And you always have them to look back on and reread. In fact, my brother John (my “man of honor”) walked down the aisle at my wedding with a copy of my late grandfather’s Wuthering Heights tucked under his arm. One of my most valued possessions!

Hope you give and get some wonderful books this holiday season. Read on!

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."

-Charles W. Eliot

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.

Tyler Moss | Reporting Through Lens of Social Justice

Writing Through the Lens of Social Justice

WD Editor-at-Large Tyler Moss makes the case for reporting on issues of social justice in freelance writing—no matter the topic in this article from the July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave clues for people to find them.

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Author Sharon Maas discusses the 20-year process of writing and publishing her new historical fiction novel, The Girl from Jonestown.

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

While the writing process may be an independent venture, the literary community at large is full of writers who need and want your support as much as you need and want theirs. Here, author Aileen Weintraub shares 6 steps in becoming a good literary citizen.

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Journalist and author Daniel Paisner discusses the process of writing his new literary fiction novel, Balloon Dog.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 614

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a summer poem.

Give Your Characters a Psych Eval

Give Your Fictional Characters a Psych Eval

TV writer, producer, and novelist Joshua Senter explains why characters can do absolutely anything, but it's important to give them a psych eval to understand what can lead them there.

Writer's Digest Presents podcast image

Writer's Digest Presents: Vacation Reads (Podcast, Episode 6)

In the sixth episode of the Writer's Digest Presents podcast, we talk about what makes for a good vacation read, plus a conversation with authors Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser and our first ever WD Book Club selection from debut author Grace D. Li.