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Writer resources: 10 books I keep on my desk

Right reads for writers

The best writers are rabid readers. Real writers have a passion for the printed word. Visit any wordsmith’s workshop, and you will likely find mountains of magazines and bookcases filled with hardcover and paperback books. I’ve been writing and editing for decades, and I can clearly confess my habit and hunger for an ever-increasing diet of reading material. My bookshelves overflow with biographies, histories, novels, and more.

But a few key titles stay close at hand in my office.

What are they?

Writers’ book collections may vary, depending on individual reading tastes, writing genres they pursue and professional goals. However, several writing and language related books may be universally helpful to writers.

10 wonderful writing resources

Although today’s writers regularly access helpful information online, several tried-and-true writing resources still remain prerequisites for the practicing writer. Sure, lots of writing references are readily available online. Still, a few trusted volumes are worth keeping around.

Here’s what’s at my desk (listed alphabetically here, by title), and I refer to these writer resources regularly. The titles link to these works on Amazon, in case readers wish to examine these books more closely.

This is the gold standard rulebook for publishing journalists. Concise and user-friendly, the AP Stylebook lists pertinent rules for language and usage. The sections on appropriate documentation and citation of sources alone are worth the purchase price.)

For creative writing concepts, devotional writing, personal journaling and Scriptural studies, this resource is essential. Although many Bible translations are available, the New International Version is linguistically authentic, but also clear for modern readers.

This resource contains helpful information about preparing manuscripts for submission to publishers and subsequent publication. Professional writers and editors have long considered The Chicago Manual of Style as the gold standard of formatting and organization.

This classic volume is a great cure for writer’s block.  Quotations from famous speakers and authors are listed topically. A witty, thought-provoking or otherwise appropriate quote can jump-start an idea.

This little bitty book clearly outlines the foundations of good writing. Most writing class teachers consider The Elements of Style to be required reading.

6. English Grammar and Composition, by John Warriner
This grammar textbook, a mainstay of high school English classes, contains all the ins-and-outs of grammar and mechanics, arranged in an easy-reference fashion. It may be out of print these days, but I still reach for it in a pinch.

Every good writer keeps a solid dictionary close at hand. Real writers don’t rely on spell-checkers. It’s far too easy to find oneself tripped up by homonyms.

A thesaurus lists synonyms, offering writers alternative wordings. Although online writers love to echo keywords, skilled wordsmiths do like to provide variety and interest. Also, seemingly synonymous words may carry different shades of meanings. I don’t use a thesaurus often, but when I need a new word, it sure helps. Roget’s is the original thesaurus, and it’s still the best. Call me a traditionalist, but I like the thumb-indexed version.

Published annually, The Writer’s Market lists magazine and book publishers by topic. Editorial departments, editors’ names, and contact details are included. This is an excellent resource for writers pursuing publication of their work. The current year’s edition is usually available at a local library, if writers prefer not to purchase personal copies.

I received a free copy of this weighty book, back when I wrote monthly columns for several Yahoo properties. This handy volume is easy to navigate and contains helpful examples for numerous stylistic principles.

What books do you keep on your own writing desk?

Adapted by this user
 from public domain image

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