My Writing Bibles

STEPHEN KING On Writing I have never read Stephen King, but I love this book. Read it several times. It really helped ground me in the writing process. King does not bullshit. He comes from the school of hard knocks. He can be so damn funny – like side-splitting funny! Who would have thought! I expected him to be a morose and gloomy character. No way!

FRANCINE PROSE Reading like a Writer: This book helped me develop a discerning eye for reading. It does somewhat spoil the joy of just losing yourself in a story but eventually you get beyond that. It is great way to understand the stuff good writing is made of. It’s humbling and inspiring at the same time.

ANNE LAMOTT Bird by Bird: A joyous and hilarious read,  full of warm humanity. This book taught me not to take myself too seriously: not to get “too sexy for my shirt”. When writers become prima donnas, they are no longer any fun. Read the chapter on “Jealousy”. If you as a writer have not felt this way one time or another – you are a saint!

What books have helped you develop your craft  or shaped your philosophy as a writer? Please share!

9 thoughts on “My Writing Bibles

  1. Hi Shona. Saying hello from my valley here inTrinidad. I liked “Bird by Bird.” A writing book i swear by is “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg, a Zen Buddhist and writer. I love that book.


  2. I like the look of that last one, such an interesting title and an attractive cover. I haven’t read any of those, unfortunately, but there are many books that have inspired me. I think reading a wide variety of types of writing helps to develop your craft but, like you, I particularly enjoy a bit of humourous writing.

    For my three writers I would have to include something (difficult, so many to choose from!) by P G Wodehouse, for his wonderful turn of phrase and lightness of touch, the comedian Tony Hawks for his brilliant comic writing that has had me in tears of laughter (his book ‘”Playing the Moldovans at Tennis” is probably my favourite), and the wonderful little book “A nice cup of tea and a sit down” by Nicey and Wifey, for its eccentricity and quirkiness, excellent observations and great wit. I wish I could write like any of these writers, they all inspire me.


    1. These are theory books on the CRAFT of writing, Lorna. Not that I read many how-to books on writing. Many are written by failed writers or people who have not published a darned thing. I make exceptions for these three because they all taught me something. Please read “Bird by Bird” – you will like it, I know. I am ashamed to say I have not read P.G. Woodhouse – can you imagine? So many folks have told me I will love him. Somehow he slipped right past me. Neither have I read the other two books you like. I have made a note and will look them up. Thanks for the suggestions. Cheers!


  3. ‘What If?’ by Anne Bernays & Pamela Painter is good. I am in rural Scotland, struggling away….surrounded by countryside, beautiful beaches, wildlife – too easily distracted!


  4. OMG I can’t believe you’ve never read any Stephen King! He’s amazing! Even if you aren’t into his genre, you’ve gotta try one of his books. You wouldn’t be at all surprised by his humor, if you had. He’s very human, whatever he writes. That’s what folks love about him.

    On Writing and Bird by Bird are two of my favs, Shona, but I’ve never read Reading Like a Writer….but now I’m going to. Thanks for recommending it!


    1. I know, it’s shameful, isn’t it? And I so admire Stephen King. He is a master storyteller for sure and his books make the best movies: Shawshank Redeption, The Green Mile, Misery, Doloros Clairborne. So wildly different. I must give his writing a shot. Francine Prose is not an easy read like Bird by Bird and On Writing – it did deepen my understanding of writing though. Keep well and cheers!


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