Writing is a lot like like gardening. When we’re willing to get our hands dirty, the blank page becomes a space to cultivate and sustain life — a little plot for growing seeds that, when exposed to just the right slant of sunlight, blossom into nourishing fruit. But as any gardener would know, there’s an art, a cadence to growing green things: A season for uprooting, and another for tilling. Next, a time for waiting while the elements work their magic. Then, finally, the harvest.

The same rhythm rings true in growing ourselves. Thankfully, unlike actual gardening, storytelling requires no green thumb. You don’t even have to identify as a writer to reap the benefits of writing — you just have to want to do the work.

For those of us who feel the tug toward words and books, toward verse and ink on the page, writing may feel like second nature, like a gift. For many of us, it even feels like a lifeline—a way to uncoil our thoughts, understand our existence and connect to our truest selves.

But after our years of school end, how do we continue to grow as writers? How do we invest in this passion? Is it even worth it? If we aren’t going to write a best-seller or even make money writing, can we justify giving the craft more time and expense?

Good writers are readers; it’s a maxim for a reason. And that’s why reading books by experienced authors is important — even necessary — for the aspiring writer. But along with novels and biographies and memoirs, consider reading books about writing, in which authors pull back the curtain on the writing process and life as a person of words.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these books are on my personal short list for writers. Here are 5 books to read this fall if you want to grow in the craft of writing: