What’s on Your Bookshelf? Must-Have Resource Books for Authors

These are my “can’t live without” books for writing. To make your life easier, I’ve linked to their page on Amazon.com so you can just buy them with a click.

A dictionary (A GOOD dictionary)
Mine is a Webster’s and it was what I asked for from my grandmother when I graduated from high school. Now, before you point out that there’s an app for that (or a website or a widget or a thingymabob) there’s a REASON I still have an honest to goodness dictionary sitting on my shelf. When you look up a word for its correct spelling, definition or usage in a digital format you get exactly what you’re looking for and nothing else. When you look it up in a paper dictionary, you get to read all the other words that are on the page! And those other words always spark ideas.
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A thesaurus
I have two: the matching Webster’s to my dictionary and a really cool one by Roget’s called the Super Thesaurus. Of course you can look up synonyms and antonyms online, and even click to be taken to definition of any word you don’t recognize, there’s still something to be said for the ideas sparked by the orderly row of words on the page.

Rhyming Dictionary
I got this for writing poetry actually but keep it around because there’s something powerful and magical when you’re writing sales copy and you’re able to weave in slant rhyme or alliteration. It takes us back to our childhood, makes us feel safe, and makes me want to buy!

Words That Sell & MORE Words That Sell
Both by Richard Bayan.
It’s all there in the title: Words That Sell and MORE Words That Sell! The reason I recommend this in print is because it’s been my experience that reference books like this one just don’t work digitally. I discovered that buying a verb book for Italian. Sure it SEEMS like the hyperlinks work but they don’t always. Just get it in paper! PLUS you can dog ear your favorite pages!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
By Marie Kondo
Why a book on de-cluttering in my resource list? This book reminds me that life is about what I keep—those things that spark joy—and not about what I discard. I also keep this book around because it reminds me that a seemingly “insignificant” or “niche” message can have profound and far-reaching impact on the world. (Your message matters!)


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Every author needs to have one book on the author life sitting on our bookshelf. This is my current favorite. (I also recommend Steven King’s “On Writing” because I think it gives a glimpse into writing that was from BEFORE the endless technological age.)

What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
By Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
This book has a special place in my heart since it was the first-ever book on writing I ever bought. But the reason why I’m recommending it to non-fiction, business writers is this: Facts tell, stories sell. And stories engage your reader! You need to learn how to tell good stories and this book is a great place to start.

How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck
By Steve Stockman
While this is a book about creating video and communicating in a visual media, it’s a go-to for thinking about how to set up a story. At its heart, video and writing both share the same storytelling principles.

As you start writing more and more, create your own go-to set of writing resources. It’s amazing how empowering it is when you’re stuck in a bit of writing and you can go to your shelf and pull down JUST what you need. Look for books that help you generate ideas, are go-to resources you use again and again, and books that just make you happy!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for products that I personally use and believe have value to my readers. When you make a purchase using my affiliate link, I earn a small commission that helps keep this blog up and running. High-five for your support!

P.S. I decided NOT to hyper-link the title so the link in the description takes you directly to the resource!

Kim Galloway
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