by Karen Ball
Last week I told you about my writing books, those valued, printed friends who’ve gone through this writing/editing/agenting journey with me. This week, I want to introduce you to some buddies that are too often ignored. Or avoided. Or cursed.
Yes, my friends, I’m talking about grammar books.
I, too, am less than delighted with grammar. However, I’m delighted by the following books that are a wonderful—and fun!—resource for those of us who work with words. So, without further ado…
Of course, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is front and center. I have the little book with a white and red cover, but in ’05 I received a wonderful gift from writer/editor Erin Healy: The Elements of Style, Illustrated. It’s a beautiful clothbound version of EoS, with lovely, four-color illustrations that bring the examples to life. I love it!
Then there are the style and grammar books by Karen Elizabeth Gordon:
The Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed
Torn Wings and Faux Pas: A Flashbook of Style, a Beastly Guide through the Writer’s Labyrinth
The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed
I’m telling you, no one can make grammar more fun than this author! She uses gothic narrative to explain every rule with precision and clarity. Consider the following examples:
The werewolf had a toothache.
The afflicted fang made him wince.
The chimera coughed.
The god thundered.
And this explanation of Participles:
Now we’re encountering a beast that is so multifariously useful that it tempts you to overuse and misuse and misplace.
And the illustrations are outstanding! Great fun.
One that I discovered in recent years is Lapsing into a Comma: A Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print—and How to Avoid Them. This gem was penned by Bill Walsh, the copy desk chief of the business desk at the Washington Post. Just reading some of his chapter titles and section headings tells you what fun you’ll have reading this one:
Dash It All, Period
Retronyms, or Sometimes a Muffin is Just a Muffin
And last but not least, there’s the old fav, Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande. The subtitle on this one says it all: “A Guide to Language for Fun & Spite.” Again, perusing the chapter titles gives you a glimpse into the fun contained in these pages:
For Whom the Snob Trolls: Who/Whom and Why You’re Right Not to Care
To Boldly Blow: Only Windbags Fuss over Split Infinitives
Snobbery Up With Which You Should Not Put: Prepositions
SO, those are my go-to grammar grapplers. How about you? What books do you rely on…no…upon which books do you rely…hmmm…In which books do you put your reliance…
Oh, never mind! Just share!