Friday, January 13, 2012

What Reference Books Do You Keep on Hand?

Writers like words, and tend to keep reference books in or near their workspace.

In addition to shelves full of writing books and other useful stuff that is behind me when I'm at my desk, I keep several books on a little shelf on my desk. They are:

  • The American Heritage Dictionary
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • Roget's Super Thesaurus
  • Webster's Dictionary of English Usage
  • Word Nerd
  • Fowler's Modern English Usage (Second Edition, 1965)
  • Webster's Instant Word Guide

Admittedly, I rarely use any of these. The Internet is at my fingertips, after all. But I feel better having them close by.

How about you? Which books do you keep nearby?

On to another subject, today's free Friday Nook book in the Barnes & Noble shop is Don't Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis. This is a good addition to every writer's (and reader's) library. Pick it up while you can get it for nuthin'!


Leigh Covington said...

I have Websters Dictionary and Thesaurus. But I'm like you - I mostly use the internet now. :) Easier, but I still love having my other books... just in case. :)

Scott said...

Hi, Leigh. Glad I'm not the only one. The downside, of course, of having a dictionary and thesaurus so near and being a word freak is that writing avoidance is a short reach away.

Joseph Ramirez said...

I have a book on literary archetypes called '45 Master Characters' that I like, I keep it pretty near. Handy thing, really, for understanding why I pick the characters I do.

Dictionary and thesaurus, yes. I also have a bunch of reference books for the book I'm writing that I've picked up here and there. Love the internet... but I find that the internet is really open ended and that if I have a finite resource such as a book, I can (theoretically) look up what I need to know quickly and get back to writing, instead of going on an ADD 'Oh-that's-cool-what's-that?' spree. :)

Taffy said...

I have Annette Lyon's book close at hand!

Julie Daines said...

I have a long list of books I regularly reference:

Chicago Manual of Style
Strunk and White, the Elements of Style
The Creative Writer's Style Guide (I probably use this and Chicago most for style questions)
Oxfords Writer's Thesaurus
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
The Idiot's Guide to Writing for Young Adults (laugh all you want, it's got some easily accessible good information)
and last, my notes from the Martine Leavitt workshop--they are gold!

Along with all that, I frequently reference materials specific to what I'm writing: maps, field and botanical guides, mythology (like the Mabinogion), and dissertations on various subjects (like accidental killings and geese husbandry in the middle ages...)

But I think is my most used tool.

gaylene said...

Bartlett's Roget's Thesaurus * Right, Wrong, and Risky * Symbols * The writer's Journey * revising and self editing. I have more, but those are the ones I actually use :)

Scott said...

Joseph, I have The Writer's Guide To Character Traits. Pretty useful, when I remember it's there. In addition to the shelf onmy desk, I have a small bookcase in my office (the room I affectionately call my Schreibwinkel), which contains my writing books, tech writing and web design references, and whatever is relevant to what I'm working on.

Julie, Idiot's Guides and For Dummies books are great for references. They are easy to use and present their material in easily consumed chunks.

Scott said...

Gaylene, tell us about Right, Wrong, and Risky? I don't know that one.

Danielle Paige said...

I usually have open when I start writing. Bookwise though I do keep a few from the Elements of Fiction Writing series close at hand.