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Grammar for the Soul: Using Language for Personal Change Hardcover – April 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books; 1st Quest Ed edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835608654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835608657
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,836,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Semicolons for self-help? Aw, c'mon!

But as unlikely as little punctuation marks and other grammatical elements may seem as tools for personal change, author Lawrence Weinstein shows that how we use them can make a big difference in who we are and how we live.

Consider these sentences of a job applicant: "What a great pleasure it was to meet you today!! The position you described sounds absolutely perfect for me!" Such overuse of italics and intensifiers reflects a lack of trust in being heard. By cutting back on those devices--and discovering they aren't needed--a person can begin to increase his capacity for trust in life.

Or consider how passive constructions can obscure agency, as in, "Undoubtedly, mistakes were made." (Yes, but who made them?) And compare, "My parents were the source of all my troubles," with, "I kept upsetting myself by taking my parents' criticisms too seriously." The latter sentence gives up victimhood and takes ownership of one's fate--largely by employing active verbs.

Topics addressed in the book include:

* Grammar to Restore the Ego
* Grammar for Mindfulness
* Tolerating Ambiguity
* Getting Out of One's Own Way

Weinstein used to teach at Harvard, but don't let that intimidate you. Though his book is ultimately serious in nature, drawing on both Western and Eastern traditions, Weinstein's prose is witty, anecdotal, and packed with good, clear examples. He doesn't claim that personal change occurs easily. But, he muses, "For the right person, that mere featherweight, a comma, can alter the course of a day."

"Now that we know we create our own reality with our words and thoughts, Lawrence Weinstein offers us the perfect guidebook for precise and powerful creating. As a writer, teacher and lover of language, I LOVED this book!"
--Jan Phillips, author, The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader

"Lawrence Weinstein confirms what we literary types have always known in our hearts: grammar equals virtue."
--Anne Fadiman, author, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

About the Author

Lawrence Weinstein taught expository writing at Harvard University from 1973 to 1983 and co-founded Harvard's Writing Center. He is currently a member of the English Department at Bentley College. His book Writing at the Threshold is a bestseller of the National Council of Teachers of English. A play by him entitled The La Vidas' Landlord received rave reviews at its world premiere in Dallas this year.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Ellwood VINE VOICE on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While not a typical book that one might associate with spiritual techniques, this book proved rather intriguing because the author examines how punctuation, tenses, clauses, passivity, etc is used in language to communicate and also empower an individual. As someone who consistently is interested in exploring the connection between language and spiritual techniques, I also found this book useful for considering how I could not only improve my writing, but also improve the efficacy of my magical workings when it came to using language.

Each chapter is only a few pages long, but the author manages to include a lot of information as well as samples for how grammar can be used to empower and communicate, as well as create personal change. The author's narrative is friendly and approachable. I didn't feel lost in a sea of grammar rules. If anything, I felt that I could easily navigate grammar's laws and use them to my benefit, both for my writing and my sense of self.

If I have one quibble with this book, it's that the author didn't include exercises for the reader. While the examples he used were illustrative of how to improve one's writing skills as well as how to use writing to effect personal change, the lack of exercises can keep the reader from realizing the book's full potential, unless they are already active writers. That said, I'd give this book a 4.5 out of 5.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles Jacobs on October 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
October 5, 2008 By Charles Jacobs

I first discovered this book when Lawrence Weinstein and I shared a table at a book sellers conference, he was promoting Grammar for the Soul and I a very different approach to using words, my latest book The Writer Within You. To the credit of the many retailers who stopped to view our table's offerings, the majority voiced substantial interest in both.

Reading Weinstein's fine book makes me want to head back to college and audit his writing courses. He writes with outstanding clarity and sensitivity as he tackles some rather esoteric concepts.

I winced when I first read the subtitle, "Using Language for Personal Change." I found it hard to imagine the relationship of the two. But Weinstein puts me to shame as a fellow writer for not recognizing the way an author uses grammar and punctuation can be so revealing of his/her own personality.

In his chapter titled "Grammar to Restore the Ego," for example, Weinstein talks of conjunctions and places a value on the importance of each portion of a sentence in which this grammatical device is used. He explains that what comes before the word has less value and less impact than what follows the conjunction. If one is despondent upon losing a job, he/she might say, "I worked hard and the company really benefited, but I lost my job." But if those words are reversed, the emphasis shifts and the lasting impression is positive, "I lost my job, but I worked hard and the company really benefited." This, he explains, offer somewhat of a lift to the ego despite the loss and in doing so offers a degree of personal change.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Diane D. Tetreault on May 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not your grandmother's grammar book. Grammar for the Soul captures the love of language and the desire to make writing more effective, but it's also fun and delicious. This book will not only be on my college class reading list, but also will be the gift of choice for my friends and family. Move over, Strunk & White, make room for Grammar for the Soul.
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By toni on October 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was for school and is well written. The book was in excellent condition and delivery was fast. The price was extremely low.
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By Donn Who on December 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased copies of this book for both of my children and believe it or not they both loved it. They are adults with graduate degrees and careers but they also went to public high schools in California and there were a few gaps in English class experiences. I have received calls from both of them as they regularly learn something new from this engaging approach to the power and soul of grammar.
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