5 Books Every Blogger Must Read

This is a guest post by Brandon Yanofsky.

Some bloggers are horrible writers.

A great writer and blogger is always learning his craft. Of course, this includes frequent reading. But we as bloggers get caught up in only reading books about blogging. And this leads to many bloggers who can’t write compelling content.

But don’t fear. You can easily learn to write captivating posts! It just requires a small investment of your time.

I’ve listed 5 books I recommend to every writer, whether they write novels, blogs, screenplays, poems, or news articles. Don’t just read them: study them.

Elements of Style

1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

What separates a good writer from a great writer? His command of the english language. There is no better book to learn how to properly write than “The Elements of Style.”

I read this in high school and I remember most of the lessons (obviously I make many grammar errors so I don’t remember them all). This book covers the basics, such as when to use a semicolon, and gets into the more heavily debated areas, such as whether to use he/she, he or she, or just he. This is the bible to most writers. And you’ll find many of the best writers constantly referring to “The Elements of Style.”

Get this into your library today!

On Writing

2. On Writing by Stephen King

Leave it to Stephen King to take the mundane topic of writing and turn it into a masterpiece.

The first part of the book is an autobiography and one hell of a story. You’ll get an inside look into Stephen King’s life. You’ll see what inspired many of his stories. After reading, you may decide to become a novelist instead of a blogger (I almost did).

The second part of the book is a writing guide. Stephen takes you through his writing process, from brainstorming to polishing. He leaves nothing out. I’ve used many of his techniques and saw instant improvement in how I write.

Story

3. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Admittedly, there’s a lot in this book that is specific to screenwriters. However, there are golden pieces of advice to constructing amazing stories any writer will learn from.

The best blog posts are ones that tell a story. Maybe not a story in the traditional sense of a protagonist and antagonist, but there is a beginning, middle, and end. Robert McKee breaks down the principles that storytellers have used for 1,000’s of years and shows you how to apply them. You’ll be able to turn any post you write into a beautiful story that will captivate your readers.

Plus, an awesome little bit of trivia, the author, Robert McKee, was satirized by Brian Cox in the movie “Adaptation.”

Catcher  in the Rye

4. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Arguably the best American novel ever written. If you read this back in high school or college, it is definitely worth another read.

The best bloggers are those who capture a conversational tone – it feels like the blogger is talking directly to you.

No one does this better than JD Salinger. As you read, notice the way he writes and captures your attention. Notice how he calls out to you, the reader. See how he talks directly to you.

How can you do this with your own writing?

State of Fear

5. State of Fear by Michael Crichton

There are two possible reasons to write: to inform or to entertain. The best writers do both. And I don’t think there is anyone who does this better than Michael Crichton. Politics aside, he does a great job of driving his opinion on climate change in “State of Fear.” He is able to make his points stick through a memorable storyline.

As a blogger, you will always be attempting to get a point across to your readers. See how Crichton does it so you can do it.

As I said before, these 5 books are just a place to start. Keep reading, and keep expanding your mind. And as you do, you’ll see your writing and blogging improve significantly. And of course, there are probably thousands of other books that are just as good.

So don’t just stop here. Keep searching and learning to become a better writer.

Your Favorite Books

When it comes to writing inspiration, what are your favorite books that you would recommend to bloggers to help them sharpen their writing and storytelling skills?

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Comments

  1. says

    I usually never read books that much except for my school books. :D But I watch a lot of movies and read short stories on ebooks. I have read a number of Stephen King short stories and not to mention he is my most favorite author. I am not only a disturbingly active blogger but also a wannabe story-writer (secret, don’t tell anybody :D ). I never knew Stephen King had a book on writing. Thanks for sharing, Brandon. This is gonna help me a lot.
    Sajib just posted Tech Support Guy!

    • says

      You definitely need to read On Writing Sajib!

      I used to be very much into writing screenplays and was so inspired by Stephen King. After reading On Writing, I went through and read as many King Novels as I could and watched as many movies based on his novels as possible.

      You should go buy it now!

  2. says

    You’re right, most of us spend little time improving our personal style. I bet that moat blogger prefer to improve their SEO techniques, so your list can be a valuable thing.

    • says

      So true Mia. And I’ll admit, there are times when I’m guilty of concentrating on the technical part of blogging and less on the art and magic of writing. It probably happens more than I even realize.

    • says

      Keith,

      Conspiracy Theory! Found it on imdb. Yes, that’s the book Mel Gibson’s character keeps buying. There was a movie a few years ago about Mark David Chapman, the guy who killed John Lennon. He was also obsessed with Catcher in the Rye.

      It’s definitely a must read.

    • says

      Sharon,

      Robert McKee’s is pretty cool. I really like how he diagrams so many elements of storytelling. I’m a very visual person so it really helps me understand such abstract concepts.

  3. says

    Great suggestions–I need to add a few to my reading list. I’m about to dive into Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content.

    • says

      Shawn,

      You’ve got to tell me how it is.

      I heard an interview with the author, and keep seeing it at the bookstore. Almost like a sign.

      Could you send me an email telling me how you like it? brandon [at] blistmarketing.com

    • says

      Ana,

      I suffer from this a lot as well. When I’m writing, I can get into this mindset where I think I’m the funniest person alive, and each word I write is pure genius.

      Until I go back and read it over.

      I think a lot of people don’t read what they write and that leads to this problem.

      What do you think causes it?

    • says

      And I thought you’d mention Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones.” That hasn’t left my shelf since it arrived about 15 years ago. A few years ago, I also ordered Harold Evans’ “Essential English” which is very verbose and I’ve only perused but is a perennial British favorite I was told when encouraged to get it.

      For writing ideas, though, nothing beats Monica Wood’s “The Pocket Muse.”

      Paying attention, Brandon? :)
      Ari Herzog just posted Reply Frequency Among 11 Twitter Users

  4. says

    Great choices! I own Elements of Style. Here are some of my favorites:

    1. Best American Essays (any year)
    2. Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words
    3. Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It
    4. Writer’s Digest Handbook Of Magazine Article Writing
    5. How to Write Short Stories

    There is another one that is really good about writing personal essays, but I am not at home, and the title escapes me.
    Shevonne just posted Oldie- but Goodie- Reasons to Hire a Writer

    • says

      Shevonne,

      Thanks for adding these. I’ve actually not heard of any of these, so I’m glad you pointed them out.

      I really like the sound of the Hypnotic Writing one!

  5. says

    Hi,

    Honestly, I haven’t heard about those books before but I will try finding them, buying and reading them as you suggested, I’m sure they will help us very much. I’m very curious about the book State of Fear by Michael Crichton, this one I will start looking for first, it seems like a great book – exactly like the others mentioned but I consider this one special. Thanks for sharing !

    Best wishes,

    Cristian
    Cristian just posted Jocuri Cu Camioane

    • says

      Cristian,

      I read it 2 years ago, and I remember it better than books I read last week.

      It’s a very powerful book, from a storytelling and editorial standpoint.

      Please tell me what you think after reading it.

  6. says

    Wayne,

    I’ve been meaning to read Douglas Adams. For a long time. Probably 12 years now. I keep seeing his books and saying to myself, “Need to read it.”

    Hopefully this time I actually do.

  7. says

    I guess these books should be read by any person who would like people to think about him as ‘intelligent’. These books are masterpieces and are great examples of how to write correctly.
    By the way, I haven’t read the 3rd one yet but I trust you – it should be as good as the others.

  8. says

    Great books recommendations. I noticed that two of the books on the list are about improving your writing. I thought that I would recommend one more – On Writing Well by William Zinnser. This book has improved my writing.
    Fred Leo just posted SXSW Bound