A Reading List for Aspiring Writers

by Josh Allen

“What books should I read to help me become a better writer?”

As a creative writing professor, this is one of the most common questions I get asked at the end of semesters, when classes are winding down and students are facing the prospect of developing as writers on their own—without a professor and a class curriculum to guide them.

So, over the years, I’ve kept a list of favorite “craft books”—books that have been instrumental in developing my writing skills. These are books I tell my students every aspiring writer should read. And, to flesh out my list, I’ve asked the spooky middle grade authors to chime in, to suggest books they’d recommend for those looking to sharpen their writing talents. So, here is our not-at-all-comprehensive list of must-read books for aspiring writers:

  1. Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French.
  2. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
  3. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King.  
  5. Character and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card.
  6. Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole.
  7. The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass.
  8. Story Genius by Lisa Cron.
  9. The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein.
  10. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.
  11. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
  12. Story by Robert McKee.
  13. The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.
  14. Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guinn
  15. The Anatomy of Story by John Truby.

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