04. April 2012 · 2 comments · Categories: Books

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And punctuation books. And a few dictionaries. Twenty total now. The latest addition to the collection is a used copy of Karen Gordon’s The New Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (rev. 2003), mentioned in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew.

Before this, I finally bought The Elements of Style Illustrated by Strunk & White (2005) and Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities (2009), both hardcovers, both beautiful.

Lately, the two guides I have been referring to most often are: Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Good English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Connor (2003) and Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (2006). But like Le Guin, I still consider Strunk & White the standard. The most amusing title I’ve found so far: The Dictionary of Disagreeable English: A Curmudgeon’s Compendium of Excruciatingly Correct Grammar by Robert Hartwell Fiske, The Grumbling Grammarian (2005), which I found at my beloved Boswell Books on Milwaukee’s East Side.

A professor of mine once said that most writers instinctively know how to apply the rules of grammar, but don’t know how to articulate them. I’ve gotten a little better at it since I started teaching college-level English. But I’m no grammarian. That’s why I have the books.


  1. Grammar CAN be fun!

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