Recommended Reading


On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King

Bestselling author Stephen King’s On Writing is a part autobiography, part lesson for aspiring novels. A great fast read, this book reveals the muses and the background to the most memorable characters of the novels of the “King of Horror.”

 


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anne Lamott

Lamott’s Bird by Bird brims with great writing advice and charming anecdotes. She refers to an array of experiences growing up with a writer father and teaching creative writing to young writers who interrupt her to ask about getting published. Frank and disarming, Lamott inspires the reader with the confidence to write their own “shitty first drafts” and to explore the inner depths of the subconscious.


Ernest Hemingway on Writing
Ernest Hemingway

Despite Hemingway’s belief that it was bad luck to talk about writing, this compact book is a collection of Hemingway’s thoughts on the craft of writing, work habits, and personal discipline. Witty and insightful, Ernest Hemingway on Writing is ultimately a reflection into the life of that great author who wrote his novels and short stories with the recognizable pithiness, characteristic machismo, and easy charm that we admire so much.

 


Aspects Of The Novel
E. M. Forster

From the genius who brought us A Room with a View and A Passage to India, this collection of E.M. Forster’s literary lectures takes a witty and animated approach to seven elements basic to any novel: story, people, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm in the novel. Aspects of the Novel is presented in clear, uncomplicated prose that is supported by examples from authors such as Dickens and Austen. This book is a must-read, especially for its vivid and eloquent discussions of plot.

 


The Art Of Fiction: Notes On Craft For Young Writers
John Gardner

American novelist, essayist, literary critic, and university professor John Gardner may be celebrated for his novel Grendel, but his classic guide The Art Of Fiction: Notes On Craft For Young Writers has had equal influence as a source of inspiration for writers. This instructive handbook, based on his own courses and seminars, lays out the foundation for the principles and techniques of good writing, while supporting his work with examples from famous classics in literature.


On Becoming a Novelist
John Gardner

Like The Art Of Fiction: Notes On Craft For Young Writers, John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist is a classic on the writer’s profession, one, he explains, that is fraught with professional and spiritual difficulties. Gardner goes into the nitty-gritty of a writer’s life and lifestyle, and writes with the elegance and humour we would expect from this celebrated fiction writer and profession of creative writing.


The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers
Ayn Rand

Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter Ayn Rand achieved cult status for Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, We the Living, and Anthem and is revered by libertarians for her philosophical system of Objectivism. Rand also wrote two companion books: The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers and The Art of Non-Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers. Both are based on a series of lectures she gave in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The former, on fiction, provides an indelible look into the four elements of fiction: theme, plot, characterization, and style. She backs all of her findings with detailed analyses of works by other great and not-so-great authors. This book is a personal favourite.

 


The Art Of The Novel
Milan Kundera

Czech-born Milan Kundera, best known for The Unbearable Lightness of Being and his reclusiveness from the media, has also written his own idea of the novel in The Art of the Novel. This book examines the literature of some of the most celebrated authors (Cervantes, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Kafka, etc.) and looks at the role of historical events in fiction, the meaning of action, and the creation of character in the post-psychological novel.


The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron’s seminal work, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, became an international bestseller soon after its publication in 1992. It was conceived to help people gain confidence and channel their creativity and artistic skills. It outlines a 12-week program that goes from “Recovering a Sense of Safety” in the first week to “Recovering a Sense of Faith” in the twelfth.


Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Natalie Goldberg

When American novelist and painter Natalie Goldberg published Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within in 1986, she started a revolution in creativity: she brought together Zen meditation and the craft of writing, igniting the spark of imagination in her readers. Translated into 14 languages, this book is considered recommended reading by the more than one million fans all over the world who have read this book.


The Art of the Novel
Henry James

Fans of Henry James, Anglo-American author of such Victorian classics as The Ambassadors, will enjoy this collection of prefaces, where “the Master” addresses the perennial issues of fiction: plot, point of view, and inspiration. He sheds light on the difficulties and triumphs behind his masterpieces The Portrait of a Lady and The American. His rules for good writing boil down to being interesting and realistic and experimenting with the creative process. A must-read for fans of James, but less recommended for those unfamiliar with his novels.


How Fiction Works
James Wood

In How Fiction Works, novelist and preeminent literary critic James Wood traces the origin of the fiction from Antiquity to modern times. His theoretical analysis of how fiction works is presented in an easy and free style, and his enthusiasm for reading and writing is infectious. Examples ranging from Homer to Shakespeare to his own novels are deftly weaved into his discussions on narration, narrative, characters, consciousness, dialogue, and language.