The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English by Roy Peter Clark

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a geek. And I love words, punctuation, grammar. One of my favorite baseball players is Aramis Ramirez, not necessarily because he’s talented, but because I love the way his name sounds. I think I was the only person in my class who truly enjoyed diagramming sentences, but this book was not written just for people like me. I loved it, but I truly believe that people who have always thought grammar was dry and boring will find it to be a breathe of fresh air.

Clark advocates living “inside your language,” and this book is more than a list of rules, suggestions, and definitions, although it does contain those; for me, it’s about appreciating how words and punctuation combine to form meaning, to express ideas, stories.

In the end, The Glamour of Grammar may not be about dictionaries, parts of speech, syntax, or the forty-seven other tools and strategies of language it covers. I have come to think that this book is about freedom and power and life in a democracy. For what good is freedom of expression if you lack the means to express yourself? (pg. 264)

I’ve relished this book. I want to list my favorite L words, like lush and locquacious; I want to sing the praises of the semi-colon; I want to write long, complex sentences followed by short sharp jabs. It’s a funny book, too, full of anecdotes and witty commentary. Actually, I imagine my husband’s rather glad I’m finished reading it, because every day I find a tidbit or two that I need to read out to him. He’s not the word nerd that I am. What makes me laugh out loud at least makes him smile, though.

The lessons I learned in The Glamour of Grammar, in addition to hopefully helping my own writing, are allowing me to see more clearly what attracts me to the writing of others. For example, the author of a book I’m currently reading, tends to write long, detail-filled sentences often followed by a short one.

“She’s twenty-six years old with a two-year-old son, she’s beautiful, she’s alive, she wants to go to Africa for your honeymoon, and then it all goes dark so quickly, and the next thing you know you’re taking your kid away in the night. She’s the past, kiddo.” (pg. 108, Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel)

Before I would have read right through it, knowing that I like the writing style, but not recognizing why, not seeing the components if that makes sense, not appreciating the work that goes into crafting the sentences and thoughts.

In short, I loved this grammar book. You should read it.

By the way, I’m giving away three copies, but today, Sept 1, is the last day to enter. Click here if you’re interested.

Published August 16, 2010 by Little, Brown and Company
292 pages, including the appendixes and index

Challenges: 100+

My copy was provided by the publisher for review and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


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