Books have changed my life. Both personally and professionally. I remember the first time I read Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson. I remember feeling—for the first time—that there was another person in the universe who felt my pain. Someone who understood just how difficult this content beast was to wrangle.

I’ll never forget how reading Stephen King’s On Writing pushed me to be more brave—not just in my writing, but in my life. He writes so thoughtfully about the craft of writing, about putting it out there, about being honest with yourself. When a writer seems to be discovering ideas as the words reveal themselves across the page—well, that’s the magic all readers chase. You will find that sorcery inside that book.

For some of us writers, writing is an inspirational task. For others, it’s just part of what we do in our day. But no matter how you feel about it—or if you ping pong between those two feelings—all writers look for guidance on writing.

That guidance may include a few old school classics – giant dictionaries, a favorite thesaurus, style guides they have been toting around since college – and they may include new resources about writing specifically for the web.

We have assembled a list that makes up our “go-to” bookshelf, from the old to the new – a writer’s collection of readings.

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style – in its sixteenth edition, this tried and true guide is a trusted and authoritative source.
  2. The Elements of Style, Strunk and White – this classic manual, though small in size, provides valuable information with wit and charm.
  3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott – her witty and instrospective take on the craft of writing offers guidance, reflection, and pearls of wisdom.
  4. Writing to Change the World, Mary Pipher – inspirational and thoughtful, Pipher reminds us that words are powerful tools and how to use them to truly connect with readers.
  5. Nicely Said: Writing for the Web With Style and Purpose, Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee – specifically addressing web writing, this guide helps writers build trust and foster relationships with their readers while supporting business goals.

For those writers who are trying to understand how writing fits into an overall content strategy, we suggest downloading the first chapter of The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web.

The Digital Crown provides the essentials of crafting exceptional content, also addressing the fundamentals of branding and messaging, and providing seven critical rules to follow.

What books would you add to this list?


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