Books to Buy Your Writer Friends

My top ten favorite books on writing

Photo owned by Julia Amante

You cannot go wrong buying the writer in your family a book on writing, even if they have a bookcase full of books to help them learn about this challenging art.

Since it’s time to begin Christmas shopping for those who celebrate Christmas, I thought I’d give you a list of the top ten books that made a difference in my writing career.

1. Becoming a Writer by Dorthea Brande

Brande wrote this little book back in 1934, and when I was nineteen (in the 1980s, not in the 1930s), I found this book in the Long Beach Public Library. Given that I wanted to do precisely what the title said — become a writer — I figured it was a great book to start with, and I was right.

This book intends to help a non-writer become a writer, so it’s not a “how to write” book; it’s a book that will help transform those thinking about writing into the mindset of being a writer. There’s a huge difference. Who are writers? What do they do? How do they write? These are the topics she covers to show wannabe writers that anyone can learn to be a writer if they believe they can write and act as writers do.

For a young nineteen-year-old kid who didn’t have the confidence, knowledge, or skills to write yet, Brande’s message was attractive, as it will be for anyone who is just starting out. Believe in yourself. Act like a writer (she tells you how), and you will become a writer.

As soon as I could, I bought my own copy of this book. This book is at the top of my “recommend list.”

2. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

I was introduced to this book by Chris Vogler himself when I attended the Maui Writer’s Conference before I was published and before I became a mother and had time and money to attend expensive but amazing conferences like the Maui Writer’s Conference.

Vogler was one of the main presenters, and he spoke about the mythic structure that storytellers have been using from the beginning of time . . . and how Joseph Campbell showed that mythic traditions all used the transformation of a character who travels along the hero’s journey (The Writer’s