Every writer’s shelf should include a handful of literary “self-help” books, guide books for the field of writing and editing. These books are the books we turn to when editing a draft, identifying a specific form or term, or for general curiosity. What are your go-to writing guides? Here are a few of mine that I have found helpful.
The essential grammatical bible: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. This classic slender volume is a one-stop shop that contains timeless, necessary rules and principals of style, form, and word usage. I don’t think I need to go into much more detail, as I’m sure many of you already own, or at least have encountered this book.
For some educational yet sassy grammatical humor
(or should I say humour
?): Eats, Shoots and Leaves
by Lynne Truss. All the rave when it was published in 2003, I still find this book hilarious in its high-strung, nerdy, bookish way. Basically, the book is a collection of rants derived from Truss’ pet peeves and intense frustration with widespread grammatical misuse and error in today’s internet culture. While reading, use the opportunity to brush up on your grammar etiquette through Truss’ quirky, but informational narrative.
(in this case, poetry): A Poetry Handbook
by Mary Oliver. For any poets out there, Oliver’s guide is delightful, including advice, well-chosen excerpts and examples to provide context, and a natural breakdown of the different forms and uses of poetry. Not only does Oliver write in a compelling manner, she teaches the reader effortlessly, guiding them with an expert hand. Fiction and nonfiction writers: what genre-specific guides to you fall back on?