Books I Push On My Writer Friends

There are certain books that I turn to again and again while I’m writing. If you’re writing and publishing novels, too, maybe you’ll find them helpful. Click on any book for more info.


Deep Work by Cal Newport helped me get back on track this summer when my production was falling. I’d trapped myself in a cycle of fiddly business details and endless emails, and Deep Work (recommended to me by Julia Kent!) was really helpful. (Click on the book to read more.)

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is such so terrific. It’s so freeing in so many ways. It’s a really mythbusting book about our own insecurities, and it gives every author permission to feel insecure. And then to move past it.

Bird By Bird was the first book about writing that really ever made sense to me. Chapter 3 will live forever in my heart. The title is Shitty First Drafts. Until I read this book I didn’t realize that writing bad first drafts wasn’t merely inevitable. Rather, it’s an important part of the process. And whenever I’m struggling it’s usually because I’ve forgotten this rule, and need a reminder.

I’m not sure why this is called the Writer’s Thesaurus because, um, all thesauri are for writers. (Thesauri isn’t really the plural but go with it just this once.) It’s akin to marketing The Cook’s Whisk or the Tire-Changer’s Lug Wrench.

Anyway, this is a terrific thesaurus and I’d use it more often if my teenager wasn’t fond of stealing it.

The Visual Dictionary is something I bought at a used book sale for $2 and it was a great expenditure. It’s great for using real-life vocabulary when a scene calls for a character with specialized knowledge. Also when you’re stuck it’s just fun to read…

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