Aug 30, 2010

The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark

A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

Early in the history of English, the words "grammar" and "glamour" meant the same thing: the power to charm. Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools, aims to put the glamour back in grammar with this fun, engaging alternative to stuffy instructionals. In this practical guide, readers will learn everything from the different parts of speech to why effective writers prefer concrete nouns and active verbs. THE GLAMOUR OF GRAMMAR gives readers all the tools they need to"live inside the language"--to take advantage of grammar to perfect their use of English, to instill meaning, and to charm through their writing. With this indispensable book, readers will come to see just how glamorous grammar can be.


Roy Peter Clark is vice president and senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, one of the most prestigious schools for journalists in the world. He has taught writing at every level--to schoolchildren and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors--for more than thirty years, and has spoken about the writer's craft on The Oprah Winfrey Show, NPR, and The Today Show; at conferences from Singapore to Brazil; and at news organizations from the New York Times to The Sowetan in South Africa. A writer who teaches and a teacher who writes, he has authored or edited fifteen books about writing and journalism, including his most recent, Writing Tools.

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (Aug 16 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031602791X
ISBN-13: 978-0316027915


I have always loved words ... reading them, writing them, and discovering new ones.  It drives me crazy when people use words incorrectly.  At work, I have been told I am brutal with my red pen. When I first heard about the book titled "The Glamour of Grammar", I jumped at the chance to review it!

This book proves that writers and editors must be more diligent than ever.  A spell check will not point out a sentence that uses pubic instead of public.  Both are acceptable words, but if spelled wrong will likely cause a certain amount of embarrassment.

One of my favourite parts of the book is Appendix A, which includes an extensive list of commonly misspelled words.  A great example is the word minuscule, and I will likely remember from now on that it begins with the word minus.

So many of us get carried away with the use of exclamation marks, and the chapter titled, "Reclaim the exclamation point" really impressed me.  Here are some keepsakes from the end of the chapter:
  • If you want to be considered a serious writer, never, ever use emoticons in an e-mail messages.  The occasional exclamation point is fine.
  • If you are tempted to use an exclamation point, read the passage aloud.  If the content contains excitement or emotional intensity, perhaps you don't need the exclaimer.
  • The more serious the story, the fewer exclamation points will be appropriate.
  • The less serious the story, the more liberty you can take with !!!!!!!!
The Glamour of Grammar is a valuable resource book. Surprisingly, it is also a very interesting read!  I will definitely be keeping this book as a reference manual for my own writing and editing.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Glamour of Grammar from Hachette Books, in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a book I would enjoy, except that I'm not sure I can give up the smiley faces. I know everyone suggests we drop them, but I hate the "dryness" of email. I figure if you can imagine me smiling when I say this, you will be more likely to understand what I mean (ie. not take me too seriously).