Thursday Writers’ Postbox: Episode 5

A Book Review

I have never enjoyed reading grammar rules before, so this week, Writers’ Postbox gets a little Goodreads book review:

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For years I have frequented Grammar Girl’s website when confronted with grammatical confusions of all shapes and sizes. Affect vs. Effect. Comma placement. Its vs. It’s. That last one sends me over on a monthly basis.

There are a million different sites I could hit when I need a little clarification, but Grammar Girl consistently makes me smile, even whilst shining an embarrassing spotlight on my English inadequacies and my flat inability to keep the jargon straight. Split infinitives? Conjunctions? Prepositions? Mostly, I am lost. (It should be said that I made it all the way through high school and several college English courses without having to diagram a single sentence. And I am a writer. And I have not been hindered.) While any old site can set me straight, the truth is that when I need clarification on that dastardly its/it’s thing for the seventh time in any given week, I really just need a smile. Enter Grammar Girl.

When I stumbled upon her book, I will admit that I was a bit skeptical – it’s grammar, people – but I had enough experience with her wry sense of humor that I picked it up and gave it a try. I was not disappointed. Maybe it was my inner geek seeking solace in the greater geek community. Maybe it was my avoidance of actually writing (ouch). Maybe it was my weakness for aardvarks and snails. Whatever it was, it kept me reading, and I truly enjoyed the read. I learned a few things, gained confidence in many more – did you see how I used its back there? – and was completely entertained on the journey.

Grammar Girl apparently shares my bizarre memory trick leanings, and bravely shares hers with the entire world. Right there she gets points from me. Whenever I decide to enlighten others with my quirky strategies, I am met with the slack jaw, raised eyebrows, and rising voice of my well-meaning, yet disbelieving audience. Uuunh. Mm-hmmm. I’m glad that works for you. I guess you could say I get Grammar Girl. And if I get her, then there is still a good chance that there are others out there in this unenlightened universe that are waiting to get me!

Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing covers everything from those wordy dirties that confound us all to the punctuation and capitalization errors that hang us up on a daily basis, and covers it all with integrity and style. Grammar Girl does a great job at mining all the grammatical wisdom of the age and distilling it down to its essence – knocking the high-and-mighties and the willy-nillies alike off their soapboxes with her common-sense approach, and giving us a great foundation on which to build our writing confidence, without having to consult seven different sources.

I rarely buy books, but this one is in my Amazon cart at this very moment. I already own a worn, ancient copy of The Elements of Style. I could run out and grab The Chicago Manual or some other obscure yet groaningly exhaustive compendium of grammatical wisdom and usage guidelines, but pretty much everything I really need is right here, contained withing the pages of Grammar Girl’s offering. And beyond that, Dr. Google is always waiting to guide me to the answers I need – probably right to Grammar Girl’s online doorstep.

View all my reviews

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