Favorite books about reading and writing

Since reading and writing are two of my passions, I tend to read a lot of books on those two topics. These are the ones that still stick out in my mind when I think about my favorites.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
I admit it, I’m a total grammar geek. Poor grammar drives me crazy – if I could take my sharpie marker around with me and correct signs, I would. Lynne Truss’s book is a humorous look at punctuation rules, their use and abuse.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I am too much of a fraidy-cat to read most of King’s work, but I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir on his writing career and writing habits. He also has some practical advice for aspiring writers.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
I love Lamott’s honesty about the writing life. She’s very funny, too.

Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft by Jane Yolen
I loved this little book. From my review of Take Joy on my personal blog: “This is not simply a “how-to” book. There are some practical suggestions on topics like plot and setting, but there is also a lot of “why-to.” Why do we write? Is it simply for financial consideration? Or does the act itself give us pleasure and joy?”

A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing by Avi
Avi is one of my favorite children’s authors and this little book about a snail and an ant trying to write something is hilarious and brilliant. You can read some of my favorite parts here.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose
From my review of Reading Like a Writer on my personal blog: “Ms. Prose showed me how to read, how I should be reading in order to be a writer. And this book is so lovely, it made me feel like a better writer just having read it! Each chapter examines a different aspect of writing, from the minute detail like word choice, to broader topics like dialogue and character. Along the way, the author quotes passages from the great writers and shows why the choices they made have created classics.”

How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
This book of essays on reading should be a must-read for all book-lovers. Quindlen is one of my favorite authors, both non-fiction and fiction.

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
From my review of Ex Libris on my personal blog: “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman will go on the shelf right next to Quindlen’s book, because they are both odes to the joy of books. The writing styles are different, but the subject matter the same: books, the reading of books, the buying of books, the loving of books.”

So, what books on reading and writing should I add to my to-read list?

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14 Responses to Favorite books about reading and writing

  1. Rebecca says:

    Great list! I have read How Books Changed My Life. It is a great little read. I have Stephen King’s On Writing but have yet to get to it. I have a couple of the others on my TBR list. A couple of my personal favorites are So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson, Good Books Lately by Ellen Moore and Kira Stevens (which I recently reviewed), and one I haven’t finished yet (but has been good so far) is Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World.

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I had heard about the Stephen King one. I just love him, both his books and his page that he writes for EW. I appreciate you reminding me about it. For sure I will check it out!

  3. nomadreader
    Twitter: nomadreader

    I just found Eats, Shoots, and Leaves on my shelf last night, and I am so ashamed I’ve never actually read it. You should check out my personal favorite book on writing: Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See (Lisa See’s mother). It’s beautifully written, inspiring, and interesting.

  4. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Rebecca – I’ve had Sara Nelson’s book on my wish list for a while – the others sound great, too!

    Sandy – It’s a great read.

    Nomadreader – I will definitely check it out – thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Dawn - She Is Too Fond Of Books
    Twitter: toofondofbooks

    Eats Shoots and Leaves is a funny reference! I enjoyed this more than TALK TO THE HAND, Lynn Truss’ second book.

    I’ve heard of Stephen King’s ON WRITING, but haven’t yet read it; most of the other books are new to me.

    Thanks for the comprehensive list!

  6. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Dawn – you’re welcome – thanks for stopping by!

  7. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    Great list, Carrie. I have many of these on my office bookshelves.

  8. Margot says:

    Excellent list. I happen to be reading Stephen King’s On Writing right now and totally agree with you. I don’t like to be scared by a book so I stay away from his books but this one is very good. I’m going to check some of the others here as well.

  9. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Beth – great minds think alike, right? 🙂

    Margot – I like his columns in Entertainment Weekly, too – he’s a good writer, I just don’t like horror.

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  11. raidergirl3 says:

    Nick Hornby has some great essays on reading, collected from his articles in the Observer.

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