Strunk and White’s Elements of Style: Worth the Hype?

You’ve probably heard of it before. This “little book” has made a big impact in classrooms throughout the years, and this week was my chance to see why everyone praises this book so much.

In case you’ve never heard of it, The Elements of Style (co-written by E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little) is small book about various grammar rules. Think the Chicago Manual of Style compressed into a book small enough to fit into a purse.

Courtesy of Chris Drumm (Flickr)

Interestingly enough, it repeats nearly all of the rules we teach at my writing and grammar tutor job, so a lot of it was a pleasant refresher. And despite the author being rather pretentious at times (e.g. when he calls words like character “simply used from mere habit of wordiness”), the book is pretty amusing, and I learned a couple new rules from it.

Grammar books aren’t exactly exciting to read, but when I look over the amount of information comprised in The Elements of Style, it’s astonishing. The authors manage to explain restrictive/nonrestrictive phrases, coordinating conjunctions, and other usage rules while still fitting in sections on diction, style, and composition—all under 80 pages.

So if you need a quick grammar brush-up, The Elements of Style will definitely help you out. Provided you don’t mind the author’s snarkiness, of course.

What useful writing and grammar books can you recommend?

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