Category: Book Review


Book Review: The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth

Book Review: The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth

With The Story of English in 100 Words, David Crystal took us on a tour through the history of our language. Now, with Spell It Out, he takes on the task of answering all the questions about how we spell: “Why is English spelling so difficult?” Or “Why are good spellers so proud of their achievement that when they see a misspelling they condemn the writer as sloppy, lazy, or uneducated?” In thirty-seven short, engaging and informative chapters, Crystal takes readers on a history of English spelling, starting with the Roman missionaries’ sixth century introduction of the Roman alphabet and ending with where the language might be going.

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Book Review: How English Works by Anne Curzan & Michael Adams

Book Review: How English Works by Anne Curzan & Michael Adams

With The Story of English in 100 Words, David Crystal took us on a tour through the history of our language. Now, with Spell It Out, he takes on the task of answering all the questions about how we spell: “Why is English spelling so difficult?” Or “Why are good spellers so proud of their achievement that when they see a misspelling they condemn the writer as sloppy, lazy, or uneducated?” In thirty-seven short, engaging and informative chapters, Crystal takes readers on a history of English spelling, starting with the Roman missionaries’ sixth century introduction of the Roman alphabet and ending with where the language might be going.

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Book Review: Spell It Out by David Crystal

Book Review: Spell It Out by David Crystal

With The Story of English in 100 Words, David Crystal took us on a tour through the history of our language. Now, with Spell It Out, he takes on the task of answering all the questions about how we spell: “Why is English spelling so difficult?” Or “Why are good spellers so proud of their achievement that when they see a misspelling they condemn the writer as sloppy, lazy, or uneducated?” In thirty-seven short, engaging and informative chapters, Crystal takes readers on a history of English spelling, starting with the Roman missionaries’ sixth century introduction of the Roman alphabet and ending with where the language might be going.

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Book Review: Between You & Me by Mary Norris

Book Review: Between You & Me by Mary Norris

synopsis Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in The New Yorker‘s copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice. Between You & Me features Norris’s laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage—comma faults, danglers, “who” vs. “whom,” “that” vs. “which,” compound words, gender-neutral language—and her clear explanations of how to handle them. Down-to-earth and […]

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Book Review: Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Conner

Book Review: Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Conner

synopsis The bestselling grammar book has been updated and revised to include the latest and greatest on the basics and subtleties of English, and features a new chapter on the language of the Internet. my review This is a great resource for writers and I recommend it. Some of the rules and advice is outdated but as long as you can tell what is currently considered fine (by the rules of common usage) then you can easily skip over old rules. I did learn some things, and some rules I will have to ignore because […]

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Book Review: Shady Characters by Keith Houston

Book Review: Shady Characters by Keith Houston

synopsis From ancient Greece to the Internet—via the Renaissance, Gutenberg, and Madison Avenue—Shady Characters exposes the secret history of punctuation. A charming and indispensable tour of two thousand years of the written word, Shady Characters weaves a fascinating trail across the parallel histories of language and typography. Whether investigating the asterisk (*) and dagger (†)–which alternately illuminated and skewered heretical verses of the early Bible–or the at sign (@), which languished in obscurity for centuries until rescued by the Internet, Keith Houston draws on myriad sources to chart the life and times of these enigmatic squiggles, both exotic […]

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Book Review: The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller

Book Review: The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller

I absolutely love this book. When I say that the Chicago  Manual of Style is the editor’s bible—and many agree with me—then it follows that Carol Fisher Saller is the editing god (or guru). She has experience and knowledge of the rules (used very loosely) on her side, but she is just so approachable. She writes as if she is speaking directly to you. This book is filled with anecdotes, good and bad, amusing and cringe-worthy, helpful and simply entertaining. It makes it such a pleasant read, even as I jot down copious notes. (Six pages of them, in fact. To be fair, I skimmed it after finishing so I could take notes the second go-round. I didn’t want to detract from the reading experience the first time.)

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