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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.

                                More by this author

                                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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                                Published on May 18, 2021

                                How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                                How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

                                We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

                                The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

                                Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

                                Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

                                Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

                                There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

                                Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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                                Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

                                We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

                                Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

                                A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

                                The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

                                Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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                                Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

                                Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

                                Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

                                While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

                                Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

                                These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

                                Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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                                Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

                                Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

                                Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

                                Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

                                Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

                                Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

                                As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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                                This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

                                Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

                                Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

                                These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

                                Actions Speak Louder Than Words

                                Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

                                Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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                                Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

                                More Tips Improving Listening Skills

                                Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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