1. The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Joseph Campbell) – Not only does this give an overview on the mythical stories that have inspired cultures over the centuries, it also provides a foundation to help readers solidify their own beliefs.
2. On Writing (Stephen King) – This is perhaps the best piece of work from the grand master of horror. It’s simple enough for the layperson to understand, but is useful for the experienced writer as well.
3. All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age (Dreyfus and Kelly) – An amazing book that uses literature from Aeschylus to David Foster Wallace to help us arrive at a contemporary philosophy.
4. Touchstones (Mario Vargas Llosa) – A wonderful reflection on literature.
5. Collected Stories of Anton Chekhov – Anthologies of Chekhov tend to omit his farcical stories, but some of these are gems as well. His stories are a great guide on how to create multi-dimensional characters without imposing an author’s bias. Free versions of his stories are widely available on the internet.