Many books about writing could use a good editor. Others are very helpful. These are the best we’ve found for improving your prose:
Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, by Benjamin Dreyer (New!). Dreyer gets so much right in this hilarious guide to grammar and punctuation: semicolons are fabulous when done correctly; no one wants to read more than a word of italicized text, especially describing a dream; and use the series comma (and don’t call it an “Oxford Comma.” The name is apocryphal).
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White. A classic. Even if you write nothing more than postcards home from work conferences, you should pick up this spare little guide to using language.
On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. Advice from a longtime journalist (YES!) on crafting just about any piece, from heartfelt memoirs to wonky technical guides.
Wired for Story, By Lisa Cron. Want to write some fiction? Lisa Cron knows how to do it. She bases her approach in brain science. I read Lisa’s book after writing a crappy novel, and she helped me write a good one that has landed me an agent.