Be careful what you read. I say this because as much as the proliferation of “top ten” lists all over the Internet perturbs me, the list-as-blog-essay has penetrated my brain as well. Although the seed really was planted the other day, when I got to thinking how useful it would be to jot down a list of the craft books I’ve found most indispensable throughout the years and share it with my students. But why not just share my carefully-crafted list with them? And voila, the blog-post-as-list-essay was born. Hopefully mine isn’t as annoying as the “Top Ten Signs Your Boyfriend is Getting Ready to Dump You” variety. Quite the contrary. I hope you’ll find these books — selected without any political correctness, with in fact more male authors than female — as indispensable as I have. In assembling my go-to craft reads I didn’t let myself think too much, just knelt at the dusty bookshelf and quickly pulled off the ones that I’ve returned to the most.

Perhaps one day I’ll have my own to proudly add to the shelf, chock full of pithy wisdom, earth-shattering analysis, and inventive writing exercises. But for now, you may check out my “top ten” list here: