5 Books You Need to Read If You Are a Writer

Updated on March 27, 2018

I personally believe that you need to be an avid reader before you can become a decent writer. That means you have to have exposure and experience. As you write, you pull from the pool of resources you have. That includes what you have read in the past which gives you ideas on stories and wording.

These five books I think are essential for a writer to have read. By having them under your belt, you’ll learn vital ways to write and make your work strong. You learn from the best of the best on how to write in different genres. How to write better dialogue, suspense scenes, and incorporating narrative dialogue are just a few things you can learn by reading these books. Even if you aren’t going to write mystery stories, you might be writing scenes in other genres that need a hint dropped, a little suspense, or someone acting a little off. You don’t have to write a murder mystery to have to use some of that genre’s elements. There is always something to glean from them.


Murder on the Orient Express

Agatha Christie is one of the most wonderful and talented mystery writers. She is critically acclaimed as the queen of mysteries. If you want to write a good mystery, it is good to look at someone who is very successful at it. Even if you aren’t writing a mystery story, your story could have a mysterious character, event, or object. You still need to know the essence to get it right.

Read this book and other books by Agatha Christie to see how to improve you ability to create hints throughout a book and keep the reader guessing. You’ll be learning from the best on describing scenes, dropping hints, the use of the red herring, and so much more. She is called the queen for a reason.

The Lord of the Rings

This is the king of epic fantasy novels. So many fantasy authors turn to J.R.R. Tolkien's work for inspiration and guidance. In his work, there are nearly every fantasy characters imaginable. His epic stories take the reader across an imaginary world that is detailed out to be as real as anything.

With this book, you learn to write detailed scenes that reveal much of the past while hinting at the future. You will learn how to be descriptive without being too verbose. This is an epic, and the style reflects that. If you want to push your writing to such standards, you have to read these books. Even the prequel, The Hobbit, is a great example on how to write fantasy for children.


Cardinal of the Kremlin

This book is amazing. It has mystery, suspense, and a lot of history and cultural exposure for the reader. This book is the ultimate in Cold War adventures and explores two adversarial cultures. The author brings to life these cultures along with mystery and intrigue.

Read this book to teach yourself intrigue, drama, and suspense. Yes, it can get technical at times which shows you how much the author researched, but you can see how technical info that can be dry at times can add to the suspense.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Looking for a very modern story that took the world by storm? This is the one. It came at a time when young people were not reading as much as they should. This book came out with themes that attracted children, and the books soared off the shelves.

This book is a prime example of writing mystery, incorporating multiple characters, writing foreshadowing into your story, and how to appeal to adults and children alike. Great examples of multiple themes. You will also see how to progress your writing in a series to target your audience as they get older.


This is a very intense book that pulls at the reader’s emotions. As you read this book, you’ll be drawn so far in that you’ll be screaming at the characters. Danielle Steele is an author I love to hate because her books are so emotional and reads I cannot just put down.

If you want to learn how to write emotionally, this is a book for you. It targets the emotions, especially women. Ms. Steele is a magician when it comes to weaving words to pull such emotional reactions from her readers.

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