1. The Art of Fiction, John Gardner. My writer's bible.
2. Steering the Craft, Ursula K. Le Guin. Excellent for craft issues, especially point of view. And there are wonderful exercises, too.
3. Writing the Australian Crawl, William Stafford. A work of poetic resonance and delight.
4. Living by Fiction, Annie Dillard. Not a craft book per se, but it helped to shape much of what I feel about what writing is and does.
5. The Writing Life, Annie Dillard. Find the passage about “spending it” and commit it to memory!
6. Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande. Her thoughts about the aid of the unconscious in writing are worth contemplating.
7. Story, Robert McKee. Intended for screen writers, it is, none the less, read by a great number of book writers and is very concise and clear about structure.
8. On Writing: A memoir of the Craft, Stephen King. His very entertaining book about a writing life. I am not a particular fan of his fiction but this is actually a rather wonderful, passionate book that I've read – and listened to -- two or three times.
9. Writing Fiction: a Guide to Narrative Craft, Jannet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French. This is a comprehensive book on just about everything to do with writing. I don't much enjoy the academic feel of it, but refer to it from time to time because it is indeed comprehensive. There are also excellent illustrative examples.
10. From Where You Dream, Robert Olen Butler. An inspiring polemic, especially the part about desire.
11. Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose. Writing is learned, first and foremost, by osmosis. We emulate the writers we love. But there is much else to be gained by reading with a practitioner’s eye.
12. Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg. Goldberg has something of a cult following of people who like to think about being writers. I’m not much on her other works but this one is a gold mine of really thought-provoking writing assignments and prompts.
13. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott. My favorite book about the ups and downs of a life spent scribbling as if your life depended upon it.
14. The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. Read and enjoy. Then reread and enjoy even more. Some of this is by now old-fashioned but the attitude is not. You may disagree with Strunk, now and then, but you’ll never do so without looking over your shoulder.