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It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences Paperback – July 27, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1580087407 ISBN-10: 158008740X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (July 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158008740X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580087407
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“an editor and grammar columnist’s funny but no-nonsense guide to better writing.” —St. Petersburg Times

“Great writing starts with strong sentences. This is your guidebook to mastering the art.”
—DONALD MAASS, literary agent and author of The Fire in Fiction
 
“June mixes sassy fun with practical advice. You’ll laugh all the way to writing better.”
—MIGNON FOGARTY, author of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences is that incredibly rare breed of book: a guide to grammar and style that is simultaneously smart, engaging, and instructive. By tackling prose composition on a sentence-by-sentence level, June Casagrande has found a way to provide intensely practical advice for the novice writer—not to mention unexpected insights for the expert writer. It would make a welcome addition to any language lover’s library.”
—ELIZABETH LITTLE, author of Biting the Wax Tadpole

About the Author

June Casagrande is a journalist and editor who writes the weekly syndicated grammar column “A Word, Please.” The author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies and Mortal Syntax, June lives in Pasadena, California.

More About the Author

June Casagrande is author of the weekly syndicated "A Word, Please" grammar column that runs in newspapers in Southern California, Florida, and Texas. She runs the GrammarUnderground.com grammar tips website. She has worked for the Los Angeles Times' community news division as a reporter, features writer, copy editor, and city editor. She currently copy edits Special Sections of the Los Angeles Times and teaches copy editing online for UC San Diego Extension.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 51 customer reviews
It is clear and concise.
Maculata
The book will benefit anyone who wants to be a better writer.
Treacy Colbert, coauthor of End Your Menopause Misery and Before It's Too Late
I found this book meaty and entertaining.
D. Tynan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By MacAllister Stone on August 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've read a lot of writing books. I write for a living. I run a large website for writers and would-be writers. Casagrande's book is the freshest and funniest entry in this tired old niche in a long, long time. It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences definitely goes on my recommended-reading list for anyone wanting to improve their own writing.

Whether you want to craft the Great American Novel or just find a way to compose emails that people will actually read, this gem of a book is stuffed full of practical advice, in an extraordinarily accessible voice.
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89 of 100 people found the following review helpful By wanda d. on July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ms. Casagrande has once again crafted a funny, educational and entertaining treatise on grammar that is approachable, useful and concise. After reading the first review posted here, I went to my local bookstore to check it out for myself. Maybe it's just me, but I often find that when someone takes the time to write a REALLY long negative review, I end up loving the writer. At the store, I chuckled out loud and read the whole first chapter of Casagrande's book before plunking down my cash and taking it home.

So, based on Mr. Fiske's keen and extremely meticulous analysis, I can only conclude that I am a not very bright, dull-minded, unintelligent, nine year old who is apparently also a non-native English speaker.

My parents will be very disappointed. They really believed that I graduated at the top of my class in college. Summa Cum Laude.
Damn.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Ron Newcomb on August 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
The author writes in an easy conversational style, so we're not learning grammar from a book so much as from a person. I'd say that's a wise choice, as grammar is a pretty dry subject. I read the whole book in one sitting. Although (not "While") explaining grammar inevitably hits things one already knows, it still spackled a few holes in my understanding, implied that breaking the rules sometimes is ok (the book's title is a comma splice), but most importantly, got me to read the thing to begin with.

If I were to improve the book, I would've left a little less unsaid. Such as, the reader occasionally needs to imagine the circumstances in which an example sentence would appear in order to properly understand the reasons for her edits.

Finally, the subtitle overstates the scope of the book. It teaches grammar. It will not teach prosody, scansion, or anything remotely close to poetry. So while the book promises how to make great sentences, it in fact only covers a particular aspect of sentence construction. You'll find nothing on rhythm, for instance.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the LA to Newark flight, I made the little girl in seat 28F nervous. I kept laughing out loud as I read "It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences." In one sitting, my writing and my humor improved. This book would make a wonderful gift for any student heading off to college. The book will benefit anyone who wants to be a better writer. It's clear, precise, easy to understand and, best of all, an absolute delight to read because it's so dang funny.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dangerous when Cooking on October 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Honestly, I didn't know what a verb was until studying high school French (damned late 1960's "I'm OK, you're OK" elementary educational experiments) so the whole issue of speaking and writing grammatically passed me by when it would have been painless to learn it. Argh. Fortunately, one woman with a good grip on the gnarly weirdness of English and a compassion for the accrued errors in common parlance has weighed in to help. I voluntarily took myself to my college's Center for Academic Assistance to learn many of the lessons in this book, but not all stuck. So, I am thrilled to have a great, concise generously-illustrated guide to good grammar. Of some of the mistakes discussed, I said to myself, 'I knew THAT.' While reading too many others, I'm ashamed to say, I thought, 'What the hell is wrong with that?' Short of having a grammar nazi review every piece of your writing and explain your own personal grammar problems, this is pretty damned wonderful.

Another reviewer (the 3-star review counterpoint) points out Ms. Casagrande's supposed misuse of "had." This 'had' business bedevils me so I checked the Prentice Hall Grammar Guide and lo and behold, the reviewer is wrong because he ignores the existence of several subtle past tenses beyond just vanilla past tense. So, I will enjoy reviewing this without qualms to brush up my English. Thank you, Ms. Casagrande. I owe you an apple.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Roy on November 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been a lawyer for 30 years and written well over 1 million words in briefs, letters, memos, you name it. I still learned much from this book. Well worth the price and entertaining to boot!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
The author of this book used to be an editor and her job was to take badly written articles and make them readable, and that's what this book is about. There are 21 chapters and each one covers a different subject - short vs long sentences, 'sentences that say nothing, or worse', matters of tense, unclear antecedents, etc. It also has 3 appendixes - one on grammar, one on punctuation, and one on how to spot common mistakes.

Cassagrande's approach goes like this - she shows us a badly written sentence, explains what the reader might have problem with, then shows how it can be redone to make it more reader-friendly. That's it. It's not grammar-nazism. She's trying to help you make things more readable.

I found the book handy. Cassagrande is a friendly teacher who knows her stuff. Highly recommended.
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