No matter how many books I see that promise to hold all the secrets to curing writer's block, writing a bestseller, and getting published, I will not pick any up. There seems to be a whole market surrounding writing books for people who want to write books and as goes for any money-generating niche, it's worth it to be wary of the product's advice. I've only read a few books about writing after being recommended them or reading it for a class. Below are the three non-reference books about writing I'd ever trust to give worthwhile advice, even on multiple re-reads.
1. “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott
I read this as part of a creative writing workshop class, and it was a gift to me as a writer who had not yet learned that other people do, in fact, write. Lammott goes through the steps on how to write and the various aspects of the writer's life. Her honest accounts and descriptions of her subject are both refreshing and therapeutic. This book is less like an instruction manual and more like a pep talk. It got me through a tough place in my life and in my writing, and I can't recommend it more.
2. “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White
It's likely you were assigned this book at some point in high school or college. After that, you may have skimmed over it or never even read it before donating it. This book, often overlooked by writers, gives practical advice for improving your writing skills and puts emphasis on a plain English style. It surpasses any grammar book you've had to trudge through, and many writers swear by it as their constant companion.
3. “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King
It's a little weird, but this is the only Stephen King book that I've read. I was wary of this book at first, only because all I had heard of King was his success from multiple books. I lumped him in with the scarily prolific mass-market paperback writers who value quantity over quality and use their name to sell books. This book surprised me. Like Lamott's book, it is both memoir and lesson. King describes the early days of his career struggling to write, his terrible accident in '99, and how writing helped his recovery. I read this book when it had just recently got the idea to write, and its optimism carries me through today. It's a book for fans, writers, and those who simply like a good story.