10 Books Every Writer Should Read

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After a lengthy discussion this past week with a group of writers, we came to a conclusion on 10 books every writer should read. Now this list may or may not agree with your sentiments depending on the genre you write in. Never the less, I offer up this list for your perusal.

Every author has picked up a novel at one point in their lifetime as it is generally where they will gain their inspiration. With that being said, below is a list of 10 great books that every writer should consider reading.

1. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
This entire book is an excellent and interesting read that will put your brain through a variety of different challenges. Published in 1927, Virginia Woolf created a more difficult read that brings readers through an in-depth process with a high payoff in the end.

2. The Collected Stories by Grace Paley
In terms of American short stories, Grace Paley is ahead of the pack as she creates wonderful stories that come together in just a few pages.

3. Portrait Inside My Head by Phillip Lopate
For the writers who are looking to develop their essay skills, Phillip Lopate is the guru to turn to. This novel is a collection of his most recent personal essays.

4. The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
As one of the industry’s top memoir writers, The Beautiful Struggle is a wonderful collection of work that will showcase how to write a personal essay or your own memoir with ease.

5. Working by Studs Terkel
One of the most important aspects of writing a novel is to give readers something with depth and something that is worth their time. Working is a great example of how to leave your readers with more knowledge than before.

6. A Bolt From the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Learning how to express your feelings in the most upfront way possible is great for writers who are destined to become critics. This read teaches you how to elegantly express yourself.

7. How Fiction Works by James Wood
A novel by an author who truly understands how fiction works, this novel by James Wood is a great read for people interested in getting the insight of a critic.

8. The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross
If you’ve ever wondered how to turn history into an interesting read, this novel accomplishes it easily.

9. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson is an author who can simply teach you how to write the perfect book simply by flipping through the pages.

10. Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis
Learning how to not be afraid to try something different is a feat that every author should use to their advantage. Lydia Davis surely teaches the everyday writer how to be different without any regrets.

If you feel a book was missed, by all means offer it up in the comments section below.

Image by Sabphoto – from Bigstock

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About Al Bargen (89 Articles)
Al is known as the Fit Martial Writer. He's the operations manager at http://WritersRise.com and is also a fat loss and martial arts coach.

2 Comments on 10 Books Every Writer Should Read

  1. Hi, Al,

    This is a worthy list for writers. I have rad many, but not all of these works. Thank you for these recommendations.

    I have also found “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg, “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott, “If You Wanted to Write” by Brenda Ueland to be great resources. Of course, one of the best ways to become a better writer is to read the works of good writers. For a contemporary author, I recommend highly Clive James. He has a breadth of knowledge and experience which is enviable. His writing is witty, complex, and always fascinating.

    I am looking forward to more of your articles!

  2. Hi Al,

    Can’t imagine how you could forget Hard CORE, Soft Cover… below is the link! 🙂


    Best regards,

Comments are closed.

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