Learn
7 min read

Top 10 Best Books for Essay Writing to Better Your Skills

William Ellis

September 13, 2022

The essay is one of the most heavily used forms of written language to convey and transmit information. Whether created by students or professionals, if you want to boil a subject down to its very essence, there is a good chance that an essay will be your best format. There are short and long-form essays, but they all serve the same function.


What is the function of an essay?

An essay’s core function is to inform. More specifically, an essay’s function is to present an opinion on a particular topic and to then support that opinion with supporting evidence of that opinion.

An essay's topic can be virtually anything the writer wishes to use. Essays are often written in a review of current affairs and politics for a research paper, a book review literary essay, writing an argumentative essay, used by college students for admission essays, or even a short story. The overall goal of an essay is up to the writer.

The importance of the essay has only grown over the last decade or so, as it is getting increasingly difficult for colleges to admit students based on grades and test scores alone. The essay has become, for many students, the factor that causes them to stand out amongst the competition. 

With essays now more important than ever, it begs the question, “How can I improve my essays?”

How do I write a better essay?

For most people, writing essays begins and ends with schoolwork. However, there are plenty of fields in the professional world that have people regularly contributing essays. For an essay to carry out its core function, the writer must write at a high enough level to convey the information coherently and succinctly.

Here are a few tips to become an excellent essay writer to get to that high level of writing.

  • Research and understand the question or essay topic.
  • Create an essay outline to structure your main points.
  • Establish your thesis statement.
  • Make a clear argument backed with evidence throughout.
  • Use transitions that make your essay flow nicely.
  • Follow the correct essay format.
  • Use writing tools to proofread.
  • Get feedback and make revisions.

There is an old saying that if one wants to improve at writing, one should keep writing. While this is true, there is also a saying that practice makes perfect. 

One of the best ways to learn how to write better essays is to learn from people who are veritable masters of the form. Here are some books written by writers and teachers that will help you to create compelling and informative essays.

10 best books on essay writing

  1. A Professor's Guide to Writing Essays by Dr. Jacob Neumann
Professor's Guide to Writing Essays: Plan for Better Writing by Dr. Jacob Neumann

Writing an essay is a process that is seemingly different for everyone. Some processes work for some and not for others. However, a school of thought also says the idea of an individualized process is nonsense. Dr. Jacob Neumann belongs to the latter camp.

Neumann’s book A Professor’s Guide to Writing Essays: The No-Nonsense Plan For Better Writing certainly lives up to its name. In his book, Dr. Neumann dispenses without any fluff or motivational speak and launches right into what constitutes good writing. This book aims squarely at students, whether in elementary school, high school, or college.

The book's foundation is that all essays are essentially the same, with little variation in format from writer to writer. While it is certainly arguable that beyond the realm of academic writing, the essay form can be different from writer to writer, this book is designed to get you writing great essays that conform to all academic standards.

 

  1. Essay Becomes Easy by EssayShark
Essay Becomes Easy Part 1

One of the best ways to learn how to write interesting essays is to have good examples at the ready of what a good essay looks like. This book will teach you numerous types of essays you can create, with examples of those different essay types.

Many writing prompts are also included and designed to address the various types of essays. The goal is that by the end of reading this book and working with the prompts, you should be able to craft an essay of any type because you will know the form forwards and backwards.

 

  1. College Essay Essentials by Ethan Sawyer
College Essay Essentials by Ethan Sawyer

When you start writing essays in college, it can be difficult to figure out how to write an essay that will earn high marks from your professor. Fortunately, College Essay Essentials: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Successful College Admissions Essay is written by an actual college professor.

Ethan Sawyer has been looking at student essays for a long time, becoming known as the College Essay Guy. In his book College Essay Essentials, you will receive exactly what the title says.

This book gives you more than the basics for writing a good essay. You will receive exercises, editing techniques, writing prompts, and even different essay templates that you can work from. This will empower you to write not only a good college admission essay but also any essay you can imagine.

  1. Escape Essay Hell by Janine Robinson
Escape Essay Hell: Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Narrative College Application Essays by Janine Robinson

One of the biggest pitfalls of writing an essay, particularly if it is a college admissions essay, is that the writer must endure the advice that they need to somehow stand out without any indicators as to how. This book, Escape Essay Hell: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Narrative College Application Essays, sets out to get you out of the rut that can happen when writing an essay.

This book helps essay writers look inward and embrace the qualities that make them unique. It then shows the writer how to apply those unique qualities to many different styles and templates. While this book is aimed at people trying to get into college, the principles taught in it can also be applied to other forms of essay writing.

  1. Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate
The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

If you want a truly historical read that will teach you about the history of essay writing itself, Phillip Lopate has the ideal work. A collection of over seventy-five personal essays dating back to Ancient Greece, it’s a comprehensive look into how far essay writing has come and how personal essays have developed throughout the last four centuries.

The introduction is by Lopate himself and gives a wonderful overview of the essay as a genre form and how it can be implemented in countless ways. With contemporary essays that cover all the issues from today back to ancient Rome, it has quickly become the essential tome for writing insightful, quirky, and even educational essays of your own.

This is an example of how one can find ways to innovate for the future by looking at how things were done in the past. Looking at how matters have always been done can help you find how you prefer to do them.

  1. How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps by Inklyo
How To Write An Essay In Five Easy Steps by Inklyo

Sometimes it can be difficult to get bogged down in theory and methodology. Sometimes all one needs to get to writing is a simple series of steps that can be replicated. If you are looking for a book that will give you precisely that as a foundation, then you need to read How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps.

The information in this book is concise, succinct, and easy to understand. It has very few frills or flourishes. It covers the various types of essays, how one can organize their thoughts and ideas, how to write a thesis statement for their essay, and how to write the essay itself. These are strong foundational concepts that every essay writer should have a mastery of.

  1. How to Write Better Essays by Bryan Greetham
How To Write Better Essays by Bryan Greetham

Writing an essay can often be a process that gets overly complicated. It becomes easy to feel like you are losing the scope or focus on the essay. 

Therefore, one of the most important aspects of essay writing is having a strong grasp of the basics so that when you feel stuck, you can redirect your efforts in the right direction.

This book is a highly simplified affair, but it is worth the read because it will help to ingrain core concepts into your essay writing skills. You will learn how to respond to feedback in your drafts and even your finished essay, effectively avoid plagiarism, particularly the accidental kind, and interact and engage with complex scenarios and topics that will form your essays. It’s not a flashy or bombastic book but a strong one.

  1. The Oxford Book of Essays edited by John Gross
The Oxford Book of Essays Edited by John Gross

Sometimes, to improve as writers, we need to stop focusing on tutorials and instructional texts and just start looking at the sort of writing that we wish to emulate. In the case of essays, there are few books as indispensable as The Oxford Book of Essays by John Gross.

This expansive compendium of essays features the work of one hundred and twenty writers with one hundred and forty essays. You may not have heard of some of these essays, but you have certainly heard of some of their writers, such as Benjamin Franklin and John Updike. 

This book is a masterclass of good writing and an absolute must-read for anybody who takes the essay format seriously.

  1. Good Essay Writing by Peter Redman & Wendy Maples
Good Essay Writing 5th Edition by Peter Redman & Wendy Maples

If the book title Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide sounds incredibly standard, that would be because it is the perfect title for its contents. Good Essay Writing is a book designed to help you with the single most important part of putting together your essay: critical thinking.

You can formulate your essay’s core thesis and arguments by emphasizing strong critical thinking skills. Not only are there examples of other well-written essays, but you can also check out a companion website that strengthens the impact of the teachings in the book.

  1. Writing Essays for Dummies by Mary Page & Dr. Carrie Winstanley
Writing Essays For Dummies by Mary Page & Dr Carrie Winstanley

It may be somewhat eye-roll inducing to recommend a For Dummies book, but the truth is that the series maintains relevance because it works. Of course, the book does not assume that the reader is lacking in intelligence. What it does assume, however, is that the reader is looking for a learning experience that will teach them from the ground up.

By covering all the basics before getting to the more advanced and technical side of essay writing, you can master each aspect. It covers each aspect of the essay and will give powerful strategies for developing arguments and theses. It will not go too far into the ideas of writing style, but it will give you a fantastic foundation for your writing. 

What these essay writing books won’t do for you

If you expect these books to make you a better essay writer overnight, then there is bad news: they won’t. The only way to improve is to start with a good, old-fashioned first draft. 

You will probably dislike your first draft very much. 

That is okay. 

With your first draft, you can empty out all of your initial thoughts and instincts of what your essay should be in one go.

The good news is that you can editorialize after you finish your first draft. Read over it. Find the obvious mistakes. Then you can take what you have learned in the books, put that first draft to the fire, and see what makes it through. Once you do that, you can start writing a killer second draft.

This process can seem tedious, but it will only serve to strengthen your essay.

Conclusion on best books for essay writing

Writing an essay is one of the purest means of putting one’s thoughts on a subject out into the world. It can also be a fantastic way to advance academically and professionally. Having the right tools to gather your thoughts and form a well-structured thesis and arguments is the ultimate key to creating a compelling and persuasive essay.

If you have never had to resort to essay writing, these books will give you the tools you need to find the right way to write an essay and your way of writing an essay. The tools are there for you. Now it’s time to use them.

Learn
7 min read

Top 10 Best Books for Essay Writing to Better Your Skills

William Ellis
September 13, 2022

The essay is one of the most heavily used forms of written language to convey and transmit information. Whether created by students or professionals, if you want to boil a subject down to its very essence, there is a good chance that an essay will be your best format. There are short and long-form essays, but they all serve the same function.


What is the function of an essay?

An essay’s core function is to inform. More specifically, an essay’s function is to present an opinion on a particular topic and to then support that opinion with supporting evidence of that opinion.

An essay's topic can be virtually anything the writer wishes to use. Essays are often written in a review of current affairs and politics for a research paper, a book review literary essay, writing an argumentative essay, used by college students for admission essays, or even a short story. The overall goal of an essay is up to the writer.

The importance of the essay has only grown over the last decade or so, as it is getting increasingly difficult for colleges to admit students based on grades and test scores alone. The essay has become, for many students, the factor that causes them to stand out amongst the competition. 

With essays now more important than ever, it begs the question, “How can I improve my essays?”

How do I write a better essay?

For most people, writing essays begins and ends with schoolwork. However, there are plenty of fields in the professional world that have people regularly contributing essays. For an essay to carry out its core function, the writer must write at a high enough level to convey the information coherently and succinctly.

Here are a few tips to become an excellent essay writer to get to that high level of writing.

  • Research and understand the question or essay topic.
  • Create an essay outline to structure your main points.
  • Establish your thesis statement.
  • Make a clear argument backed with evidence throughout.
  • Use transitions that make your essay flow nicely.
  • Follow the correct essay format.
  • Use writing tools to proofread.
  • Get feedback and make revisions.

There is an old saying that if one wants to improve at writing, one should keep writing. While this is true, there is also a saying that practice makes perfect. 

One of the best ways to learn how to write better essays is to learn from people who are veritable masters of the form. Here are some books written by writers and teachers that will help you to create compelling and informative essays.

10 best books on essay writing

  1. A Professor's Guide to Writing Essays by Dr. Jacob Neumann
Professor's Guide to Writing Essays: Plan for Better Writing by Dr. Jacob Neumann

Writing an essay is a process that is seemingly different for everyone. Some processes work for some and not for others. However, a school of thought also says the idea of an individualized process is nonsense. Dr. Jacob Neumann belongs to the latter camp.

Neumann’s book A Professor’s Guide to Writing Essays: The No-Nonsense Plan For Better Writing certainly lives up to its name. In his book, Dr. Neumann dispenses without any fluff or motivational speak and launches right into what constitutes good writing. This book aims squarely at students, whether in elementary school, high school, or college.

The book's foundation is that all essays are essentially the same, with little variation in format from writer to writer. While it is certainly arguable that beyond the realm of academic writing, the essay form can be different from writer to writer, this book is designed to get you writing great essays that conform to all academic standards.

 

  1. Essay Becomes Easy by EssayShark
Essay Becomes Easy Part 1

One of the best ways to learn how to write interesting essays is to have good examples at the ready of what a good essay looks like. This book will teach you numerous types of essays you can create, with examples of those different essay types.

Many writing prompts are also included and designed to address the various types of essays. The goal is that by the end of reading this book and working with the prompts, you should be able to craft an essay of any type because you will know the form forwards and backwards.

 

  1. College Essay Essentials by Ethan Sawyer
College Essay Essentials by Ethan Sawyer

When you start writing essays in college, it can be difficult to figure out how to write an essay that will earn high marks from your professor. Fortunately, College Essay Essentials: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Successful College Admissions Essay is written by an actual college professor.

Ethan Sawyer has been looking at student essays for a long time, becoming known as the College Essay Guy. In his book College Essay Essentials, you will receive exactly what the title says.

This book gives you more than the basics for writing a good essay. You will receive exercises, editing techniques, writing prompts, and even different essay templates that you can work from. This will empower you to write not only a good college admission essay but also any essay you can imagine.

  1. Escape Essay Hell by Janine Robinson
Escape Essay Hell: Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Narrative College Application Essays by Janine Robinson

One of the biggest pitfalls of writing an essay, particularly if it is a college admissions essay, is that the writer must endure the advice that they need to somehow stand out without any indicators as to how. This book, Escape Essay Hell: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Narrative College Application Essays, sets out to get you out of the rut that can happen when writing an essay.

This book helps essay writers look inward and embrace the qualities that make them unique. It then shows the writer how to apply those unique qualities to many different styles and templates. While this book is aimed at people trying to get into college, the principles taught in it can also be applied to other forms of essay writing.

  1. Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate
The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

If you want a truly historical read that will teach you about the history of essay writing itself, Phillip Lopate has the ideal work. A collection of over seventy-five personal essays dating back to Ancient Greece, it’s a comprehensive look into how far essay writing has come and how personal essays have developed throughout the last four centuries.

The introduction is by Lopate himself and gives a wonderful overview of the essay as a genre form and how it can be implemented in countless ways. With contemporary essays that cover all the issues from today back to ancient Rome, it has quickly become the essential tome for writing insightful, quirky, and even educational essays of your own.

This is an example of how one can find ways to innovate for the future by looking at how things were done in the past. Looking at how matters have always been done can help you find how you prefer to do them.

  1. How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps by Inklyo
How To Write An Essay In Five Easy Steps by Inklyo

Sometimes it can be difficult to get bogged down in theory and methodology. Sometimes all one needs to get to writing is a simple series of steps that can be replicated. If you are looking for a book that will give you precisely that as a foundation, then you need to read How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps.

The information in this book is concise, succinct, and easy to understand. It has very few frills or flourishes. It covers the various types of essays, how one can organize their thoughts and ideas, how to write a thesis statement for their essay, and how to write the essay itself. These are strong foundational concepts that every essay writer should have a mastery of.

  1. How to Write Better Essays by Bryan Greetham
How To Write Better Essays by Bryan Greetham

Writing an essay can often be a process that gets overly complicated. It becomes easy to feel like you are losing the scope or focus on the essay. 

Therefore, one of the most important aspects of essay writing is having a strong grasp of the basics so that when you feel stuck, you can redirect your efforts in the right direction.

This book is a highly simplified affair, but it is worth the read because it will help to ingrain core concepts into your essay writing skills. You will learn how to respond to feedback in your drafts and even your finished essay, effectively avoid plagiarism, particularly the accidental kind, and interact and engage with complex scenarios and topics that will form your essays. It’s not a flashy or bombastic book but a strong one.

  1. The Oxford Book of Essays edited by John Gross
The Oxford Book of Essays Edited by John Gross

Sometimes, to improve as writers, we need to stop focusing on tutorials and instructional texts and just start looking at the sort of writing that we wish to emulate. In the case of essays, there are few books as indispensable as The Oxford Book of Essays by John Gross.

This expansive compendium of essays features the work of one hundred and twenty writers with one hundred and forty essays. You may not have heard of some of these essays, but you have certainly heard of some of their writers, such as Benjamin Franklin and John Updike. 

This book is a masterclass of good writing and an absolute must-read for anybody who takes the essay format seriously.

  1. Good Essay Writing by Peter Redman & Wendy Maples
Good Essay Writing 5th Edition by Peter Redman & Wendy Maples

If the book title Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide sounds incredibly standard, that would be because it is the perfect title for its contents. Good Essay Writing is a book designed to help you with the single most important part of putting together your essay: critical thinking.

You can formulate your essay’s core thesis and arguments by emphasizing strong critical thinking skills. Not only are there examples of other well-written essays, but you can also check out a companion website that strengthens the impact of the teachings in the book.

  1. Writing Essays for Dummies by Mary Page & Dr. Carrie Winstanley
Writing Essays For Dummies by Mary Page & Dr Carrie Winstanley

It may be somewhat eye-roll inducing to recommend a For Dummies book, but the truth is that the series maintains relevance because it works. Of course, the book does not assume that the reader is lacking in intelligence. What it does assume, however, is that the reader is looking for a learning experience that will teach them from the ground up.

By covering all the basics before getting to the more advanced and technical side of essay writing, you can master each aspect. It covers each aspect of the essay and will give powerful strategies for developing arguments and theses. It will not go too far into the ideas of writing style, but it will give you a fantastic foundation for your writing. 

What these essay writing books won’t do for you

If you expect these books to make you a better essay writer overnight, then there is bad news: they won’t. The only way to improve is to start with a good, old-fashioned first draft. 

You will probably dislike your first draft very much. 

That is okay. 

With your first draft, you can empty out all of your initial thoughts and instincts of what your essay should be in one go.

The good news is that you can editorialize after you finish your first draft. Read over it. Find the obvious mistakes. Then you can take what you have learned in the books, put that first draft to the fire, and see what makes it through. Once you do that, you can start writing a killer second draft.

This process can seem tedious, but it will only serve to strengthen your essay.

Conclusion on best books for essay writing

Writing an essay is one of the purest means of putting one’s thoughts on a subject out into the world. It can also be a fantastic way to advance academically and professionally. Having the right tools to gather your thoughts and form a well-structured thesis and arguments is the ultimate key to creating a compelling and persuasive essay.

If you have never had to resort to essay writing, these books will give you the tools you need to find the right way to write an essay and your way of writing an essay. The tools are there for you. Now it’s time to use them.

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