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Word Power Made Easy Expanded and Complet Edition
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It's mainly because of the content of the book. Though the book centers around about a hundred words (all sectioned off by a specific category), it's through these words and their etymology that we are able to further expand our vocabulary. It teaches first how to recognize the prefix and the suffixes within these words, so that should we come across these same prefixes or suffixes later, we'll know the roots and how to identify the meaning of these words without pulling out a dictionary. This is where it surprised me. It took maybe months, but eventually I realized the power of this book when I saw a word I had never seen before while reading and was able to identify it without even stopping.
Another great part about this book is that it's never overwhelming. Each section uses ten words, and from there multiplies into many more using etymology until starting once again with ten more new words, but only after thoroughly testing you and what you've already learned. When I first began reading this book, I read a chapter a week and studied the words, the prefixes, and the suffixes related to each word and did the tests until I was satisfied that I knew them and then moved on to the next section. In doing this, I was able to expand my vocab by at least the one-hundred base words outlined in this book (later, I realized, my vocabulary grew by thousands of words).
This book also has a few review sections to go back on earlier chapters to help refresh you before moving on to more advanced words. To go along with that, it has "Brief Intermissions" that speaks of the constant changes in the English language, and how to avoid becoming a stuffy wordsmith after reading this book. These sections stress open-mindedness when speaking and writing. Finally, it has a few sections that aid in spelling problems, and how to avoid misspelling commonly misspelled words. Though these sections don't help in what the book is meant for, they are fun diversions nonetheless.
Overall, this book is a great learning experience that continues to teach well after you turn to the back cover. I'd recommend this to anyone seeking to speak intelligently and to write better. In fact, I'd recommend two, as you'll be marking up the first one in order to complete the quizzes.
In contrast to the semantic cluster format, some vocabulary books arrange words alphabetically. Unless you are studying for a test, such "selective dictionaries" are unlikely to foster long term word retention. If you are studying for a test, the "1000 Most Important Words" by Norman Schur is much better than "Words Smart by the Princeton Review." The former includes more words and better definitions. The "1000 Most Important Words" also has sentence examples defining the word and an easily read visual layout. But if you have time, study "Word Power Made Easy" first. It'll add to your long term understanding and enjoyment of words!