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15 Books For Everyone To Better Their Writing Skills

15 Books For Everyone To Better Their Writing Skills

Writing can be a struggle for even the most experienced writers at times. If it’s not difficulties with grammar, or having the knowledge to create a gripping and compelling piece of material, it’s struggles with finding the creativity needed. Writing is one of the most creative things in life, and it’s for that reason that these struggles often occur.

Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there that can help everyone better their writing skills in all areas and be very useful in times when they face these difficulties. This list goes through 15 of the best books for everyone to better their writing skills, each with a short description and real life review from other people who have read the book and found it of great use.

1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life

    The difference between Bird by Bird and the other books in this list, is that it focuses on freeing yourself from writers block and unleashing your creativity, rather than the grammar aspect of writing. This is a great read for anyone who perhaps is stronger at being grammatically correct, but struggles to channel their creative flow.

    Customer Review on Amazon:

    “Though aimed at writers, this book is full of sage advice and razor-edged honesty for the average joe. If you’re a writer–and I claim to be one–it’s more than a few anecdotes and good advice; it’s a lifeline in the thrashing seas of rough-draftdom, a foothold on the sands of jealousy and vain ambition.” – Anna

    2) Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

    Between You and Me

      Between You & Me is perfect for anyone who has a hard time taking information in. It plays on the humor side of things by making comical references about mistakes in punctuation and grammar using examples such as The Simpsons. An excellent book that helps you to truly understand some of the common mistakes you’re making in spelling, punctuation and grammar, while getting a laugh out of it at the same time.

      Customer Review on Amazon:

      “I learned from this book, and I enjoyed myself immensely while reading it. It’s made me want to pick up my next work of nonfiction sooner than the usual schedule (which would be maybe in six months or so?). It made me want to buy, read, and annotate/highlight a style guide to learn even more.” – Kelly

      3) The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need

      The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need

        This is simply what it says it is on the front cover (apart from the other books on this list of course). This book’s a great resource for people to sharpen up their grammar skills, regardless of what you’re writing. It covers everything you’d ever need to know about producing top quality writing; whether you need advice on which words to use, how to phrase things, punctuate sentences or simply organize and structure your work.

        Customer Review on Amazon:

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        “This truly may be The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need. I am a tutor and have found this book indispensable; it’s especially useful when coaching students for the SAT-II Writing exam and the English section of the ACT. Any grammar question you can possibly have seems to be in here, and it’s very easy to reference. I can’t imagine being without this book.” – Lulu

        4) The Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition)

        The Chicago Manual of Style

          The Chicago Manual of Style is such an authoritative book that there’s now a 16th edition released, and it really is the perfect well trusted guide for help on your writing style. As times change and the way people work changes, newer editions of the manual are being brought out to keep the information fresh and relevant to how we work and communicate in the world today.

          Customer Review on Amazon:

          “I do freelance work as an editor and proofreader. I also tutor students in writing and they need to follow specific style guidelines. I find the Chicago Manual of Style to be a very helpful, detailed guide. Most publishing companies use CM as their style guide, so I recommend it to freelancers.” – Jaime

          5) 2015 Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published

          2015 Writers Market - the Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published

            We’ve spoken about grammar, creativity, style and so on, but the 2015 Writer’s Market walks you through the complete process of getting yourself published and paid for your writing, which adds to your overall writing skill set. It’s gives a big benefit to readers who may have their writing skills down, but don’t know the first thing about contacting publishers and getting their content seen by others.

            The best part is that it includes sample query letters as templates that you can use to contact people efficiently and effectively.

            Customer Review on Amazon:

            “This is exactly what I was looking for…this publication has been on the market for years, but they used to call it something else. It is an incredibly helpful tool for any writer;actually a writer’s ‘Bible’.” – Julie

            6) Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity

            Zen in the Art of Writing

              This book is another excellent read on unleashing your creativity and escaping from the common writer’s block. Ray Bradbury has some wonderful tips for writers looking to tap into their creative side and improve their quality of writing, such as writing 1000 words a day, getting into a weekly regime and letting yourself explode.

              Customer Review on Amazon:

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              “This book is like getting a transfusion. Not of blood, but of Ray Bradbury’s enthusiasm. His motto was “Exactly one-half terror, one-half exhilaration.” Well, this book takes out the terror of writing, and leaves us with pure exhilaration.” – Kendal

              7) The Elements of Style (4th Edition)

              The Elements of Style Book

                The Elements of Style is perfect for everyone looking to better their writing skills as it offers practical advice to people that help them turn dull and plain sentences into rich and powerful pieces of writing. It is perfect for people looking to communicate more effectively with their readers.

                Customer Review on Amazon:

                “As the ‘rules’ in this iconic book take up only 14 pages, it continually amazes me how often I can find the answer to a grammar or punctuation question within those pages. It doesn’t cover everything, and some of the ‘rules’ are of course changing with the passage of time – but if a wannabe writer can’t afford a whole bookcase of tomes on How to Write, then this is the one he or she should buy.” – Peggy

                8) They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (3rd Edition)

                They Say I Say - For Academic Writers

                  This book is perfect for academic writers who will need to build thorough and persuasive arguments within their writing. Even though it may be focused at academic writers who are required to produce top notch arguments, “They Say / I Say” is still a great read for all writers as it helps you build a thorough and compelling case for the topic at hand.

                  Customer Review on Amazon:

                  “Well, this book is of fundamental importance in any argumentative writing we do, not only academic writing but also any other kind of writing in which we need to prove a thesis. It really demystifies the common difficulties of writing and improves our understanding of the say sentences may go inside a text.” – Morris

                  9) The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide to Character Expression

                  The Emotion Thesaurus - Guide to Character

                    The Emotion Thesaurus is incredibly helpful for writers looking to better their skills as it helps you present emotions to others in a very compelling way. Not just the emotions of fictional characters that you’re writing about, but also within personal stories that you really want to sell to your readers in an expressive way.

                    Customer Review on Amazon:

                    “The best 5 bucks a writer could spend. I could see the emotions in playing out in my head, but lacked the words. Just skimming the book, I can and will take my writing from “Good” to “Amazing” Now I finally understand Show don’t Tell your reader. Even my daughter was impressed with the book. I would recommend this book to new writer like me and even the seasoned writers. I don’t think you will be disappointed.” – Jon

                    10) The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

                    The Sense of Style - 21st century Writing

                      The author Steven Pinker gives readers his answers as to why the so much writing these days is of poor quality, and how it can be improved. Readers can imrpove their writing overall with the use of The Sense of Style, as Steven shares his brilliant insights of grammar, style, creativity and elegance.

                      Customer Review on Amazon:

                      “The Sense of Style is a scholarly and witty book on the art of writing well. Bestselling author, linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker provides readers with a new writing-guide for the twenty-first century. He breaks down grammar rules and challenges purists on the best use of language.” – Book Shark

                      11) The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

                      The Negative Trait Thesaurus - Character Flaws

                        Much like The Emotion Thesaurus previously mentioned, The Negative Trait Thesaurus is a great resource for enhancing characters within a particular story, even if it is that of your own. The book explores the many different flaws of people that writers could add to their character’s persona, and allows you to enhance your own story by considering these attributes you feel might be relevant to your own life.

                        Customer Review on Amazon:

                        “I turn to Ackerman and Puglisi’s Emotion Thesaurus regularly when needing inspiration for character reactions and action beats. Their new additions to the series are shaping up to be just as valuable, if not more so. In the introductory material to this volume, they state that they view this book as a “brainstorming tool.” This is spot-on.” – K.M Weiland

                        12) The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writers Guide to Character Attributes

                        The Positive Trait Thesaurus - Character Attributes

                          This wonderful book is the complete opposite to The Negative Trait Thesaurus. It focuses on all the attributes you could consider when creating a fictional character, or yet again when telling your own story. When added to your own personal story telling, incorporating certain attributes helps build a connection with your readers.

                          Customer Review on Amazon:

                          “Authors, you need this book. As a writing coach who reads and critiques 200 manuscripts a year, I can’t speak highly enough about this book and the companion book, the Negative Trait book. I have a bookcase full of writing craft books that I draw on in my teaching and recommend to my clients, but I can easily say these books by Ackerman and Puglisi are at the top.” – Susanne

                          13) Mistakes Authors Make: Essential Steps for Achieving Success as an Author

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                          Mistakes Authors Make - Achieving Success as an Author

                            The title says it all, loud and clear. “Mistakes Authors Make” is an incredibly informative book that explains some of the most common errors in writing and publishing that people tend to make. It can be a great indication as to where you might be going wrong, if you feel like you’re not quite getting the success in authorship that you want. Identifying your mistakes will get you back on track for success.

                            Customer Review on Amazon:

                            “The authors of this book think that everyone has a book in them and they are willing to explain all the things you should do right. You will learn about marketing avatars, time management, networking and much more. You will also know the difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing.” – Rebecca

                            14) Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

                            Writing Tools - 50 Essential Strategies

                              Again, the title makes it so clear. Writing Tools is one of the best resources for every writer, outlining 50 strategies that will help you become a much more effective writer. Whilst many of the strategies in this book may be considered fairly simple, and featured in various other writing guides, there are several that are completely unique. This makes the book a must read for any aspiring writers.

                              Customer Review on Amazon:

                              “Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools is to authors and journalists what Home Depot is to construction workers. Clark gives writers a fully stocked shed of clear, concise tips, strategies and guidelines to instantly help improve anyone’s writing.” – Armchair Interviews

                              15) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (2nd Edition)

                              Writing Down the Bones

                                Last on the list, is “Writing Down the Bones”, where author Natalie goes through the relationship between Zen sitting practice and writing. An excellent book to top off the list, helping you become a more powerful writer by giving thoroughly researched advice. Natalie has been addressing writers through books and workshops for over 20 years, and the advice she gives from what she’s learnt in this time is astonishing.

                                Customer Review on Amazon:

                                “Natalie Goldberg’s insights about writing as a spiritual practice are just as valid today as they were in 1986 when this book was first published. Her suggestions to writers work, both for beginning writers and for writers who depend on words in order to make a living. I recommend this book to the emerging writers I mentor as a must-have reference second only to a good dictionary.” – Kay

                                So there you have it, 15 great books to help you improve your writing skills.

                                If you enjoyed this article, check out this similar post on 10 books to help you polish your English and writing skills.

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                                What are some other books you’ve read that improved your writing skills? Let us know in the comments.

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                                Dan Western

                                Founder of Wealthy Gorilla

                                Books for Everyone to Better Their Writing Skills 15 Books For Everyone To Better Their Writing Skills

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                                Last Updated on March 14, 2019

                                7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                                7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                                Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

                                For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

                                Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

                                1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

                                A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

                                It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

                                It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

                                How it helps you:

                                If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

                                Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

                                2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

                                Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

                                Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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                                How it helps you:

                                Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

                                Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

                                If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

                                Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

                                3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

                                Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

                                Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

                                How it helps you:

                                This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

                                For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

                                Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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                                A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

                                4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

                                To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

                                A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

                                How it helps you:

                                One word: hierarchy.

                                All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

                                In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

                                If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

                                5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

                                Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

                                Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

                                How it helps you:

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                                Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

                                If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

                                This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

                                6. What do you like about working here?

                                This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

                                Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

                                How it helps you:

                                You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

                                Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

                                Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

                                7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

                                What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

                                As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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                                How it helps you:

                                What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

                                First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

                                Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

                                Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

                                Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

                                Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

                                Making Your Interview Work for You

                                Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

                                Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

                                More Resources About Job Interviews

                                Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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