- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (July 27, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 158008740X
- ISBN-13: 978-1580087407
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences 1st Edition
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“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 the author of the weekly syndicated “A Word, Please” grammar column and a copy editor for the custom publishing department of the Los Angeles Times. She has worked as a reporter, features writer, city editor, proofreader, and copyediting instructor for UC San Diego Extension. She is the author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies, Mortal Syntax, and It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences. She lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband. Visit www.junecasagrande.com.
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Top customer reviews
Though I already knew many of the basics that dealt with punctuation and grammar, I bought this book with the intention of honing my editing skills. Sentence structure is something I’m always on the lookout to improve while editing, so I truly enjoyed the chapters that dealt with word-by-word dissection of ad copy, paragraphs, opening lines, and more. I have to admit, I looked at some of those and thought, “Well, that’s not so bad,” and then cringed at how many things had to change to make the clearest sentence possible. As I continued to read, though, the errors became more and more obvious, and I didn’t feel nearly as lacking in my observational skills.
If you’re a writer, you need to read this. Perhaps more than once. It can only help you in making your writing tighter.
If you’re an editor, this little book should be on your reference shelf as one of the handiest guides you’ll ever own. The very end of the book, in fact, is one of my favorite parts: an appendix that lists the most incriminating errors you can make—the ones that will brand you as a hack and tell your readers “the writer is out of her element,” according to Ms. Casagrande. They’re the misused words that drive grammarphiles insane, and the very stuff that will drive an Internet argument off-topic and down the road of personal insults in a heartbeat.
If you’re a homeschooler, you need to get this for yourself and your kids and start them off right, with an instructional book that won’t bore them to tears.
After all, with chapter titles such as “Antique Desk Suitable for Lady with Thick Legs and Large Drawers,” how can you go wrong?
Let me start out with some positive feedback. I like the layout. Casagrande provides enough white space before introducing her examples. Her examples are also italicized. The layout helped me to better interpret her examples and points, while making the material less confusing for me to read and more understandable for me to comprehend, The author covers many important grammatical topics, including faulty parallelism, passive sentences, redundant sentences, and overused adverbs. Nevertheless, I feel that she tends to overstate a few of her opinions in this book. For one, Casagrande points out that she dislikes the conjunctive adverb "in addition.” Well, I find the transitional phrase "hence,” which she uses, as stuffy, and perhaps out-of-date and pretentious. We all have our own preferences, but I believe that from time to time, the author overemphasizes hers in this book. And what's wrong with using a semicolon? I did not learn how to use a semicolon in college, as she suggests as the logical reasoning behind many writers out there who may overuse it. I use the semicolon sparingly and only when it links two closely related ideas to emphasize an important connection. (Note: I learned how to use a semicolon in middle school, not in college.) Her example on page 148 connects this sentence with a semicolon: "Elephants are large; they eat foliage." I believe that this a terrible example because there is not a common enough element in play here with these sentences to add a semicolon. In addition, I must add that a glossary at the end of the book may have been helpful. I never knew what the word “copular” meant until I picked up this book: to copulate?” (Just a joke.). "Copular," I discovered is just a fancy word for a linking verb. It comes from the Latin verb "copula," for those of you who did not understand her meaning, as I did not.
Casagrande does, however, list a few reference materials that may assist some readers. I did follow her advice and order "Garner's Modern American English," which has been a helpful resource.
Buy it. Read it. Immerse yourself in it.
I've bought several books on writing; this is the only one I've finished reading. In fact, I'm reading it a second time. And when I'm done, I'll read it a third time.
In this book, June shows us how a basic knowledge of grammar can improve our writing. Appendix A on the formation of sentences complements the book proper. Each chapter abounds with cogent instruction--examples are provided, errors are pointed out and suggestions given on how to fix them. Great teaching pedagogy for this kind of thing.
I do have a quibble, though. For some reason, Miss Casagrande despises the semicolon. So much so, that she omits it from Appendix B--on punctuation. Sure, she does state that a lot of people having trouble using the semicolon. But isn't that all the more reason to explain it? So that we don't continue to misuse it? Furthermore, I have seen deft uses of the semicolon by expert writers; surely, the semicolon has its place.
One qualification: I am a novice writer (and I use the term "writer" loosely); therefore, the great benefit that I have gained from reading this book--is because there is much I don't know. However, I suspect that writers who are more skillful than I, can still pick up a thing or two. Regardless, it's always good to review the fundamentals.
Overall: Great book. Full of humor. Marvelous read.