You've heard the phase countless times before: if you want to be a writer, you first have to be a reader (and if you consider yourself a writer and haven't seen or heard this phrase before, you should definitely start reading more). It's important to know what style of writing you like and know the reason why you don't like other styles. You need to branch out of your niche every now and then to get inspired by techniques that are in completely different genres than yours.
Whether you are looking for advice on practical techniques or simply needing a reminder of why you love the craft, here are ten books that I believe every writer needs to read at least once in their lives.
1. "The Elements of Style" by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr
There should be a requirement for all writers to read this book each year. White and Strunk created a timeless book about the language and grammar rules and sprinkled in just the right amount of sarcasm to help the rules stick.
2. "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott
3. "Steal Like an Artist" Austin Kleon
4. "On Writing" by Stephen King
This part-memoir part-instructional book on writing is a must for every writer—even if you have no interest in writing in the horror/thriller genre. King describes his early life and struggles with becoming a writer as well as the when his name became a New York Times Best Seller after his book "Carrie." His advice is woven throughout the memoir parts of the book, but he sets aside space to speak specifically on the art of language, one of the things rarely talked about with famous writers.
5. "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg
This is a necessary read for the over-critical, overthinking writer (so, essentially, it's for every writer). Goldberg helps you get out of your own head by encouraging you to write without stopping or crossing things out in the beginning. She walks you through overcoming the doubts that can make you want to quit writing all together. After finishing the book you will feel encouraged and hold a new respect for verbs.
6. "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser
7. "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard
8. "The Art of Fact" edited by Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda
Sometimes non-fiction is more difficult to believe than fiction. "The Art of Fact" features incredible stories from incredible journalists. It's a great book to read to study different styles of writing and will make you want to go out in the world to find inspiration in the everyday.
9. "Telling True Stories" edited by Mark Kramer
10. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho
This work of fiction is about a boy named Santiago who leaves home in search of a treasure, but gets off course a few times along the way. I like to read when I need a reminder to enjoy the process and not just focus on the end goal.