The books our experts recommend show how grammar and punctuation can be made interesting. Writer and self-confessed “grammar geek” Mark Nichol chooses his best books on grammar and punctuation. He discusses the role of linguistic authorities and when it is right and wrong to get fussy about usage. Among his choices are Garner’s Modern English Usageby Bryan A. Garner, Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold Contemporary Style by Arthur Plotnik and The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications by Amy Einsohn.
Jonathon Green, lexicographer and dictionary maker chooses his best books on slang, which he defines as “counter-language”, since “at its heart it’s down, it’s dirty, it’s grubby, it’s tart, it’s essentially subversive.” He adds that it’s very thematic, which produces a lot of synonyms: 1,500 for having sex, 1,000 each for penises and vaginas and 2,000 drunkard- and drink-related words. Among his choices are A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant and Vulgar Words by Jon Camden Hotten, which was a pioneering work in the 19th century and The Corner: a Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood by David Simon and Edward Burns, an account of a West Baltimore family destroyed by drugs, heavily laced with the slang of that particular city and culture. He also chooses The F Word by Jesse Sheidlower, of which he says, “Everybody should look at this and see how lexicography should be done . . . it’s an amazing piece of scholarship.”
Garner's Modern English Usage
by Bryan A. Garner
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style
by Arthur Plotnik
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
by Jane Straus
The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications
by Amy Einsohn
In the age of the internet, we are all writers. Correct grammar and punctuation are key to making a good impression. Grammar geek Mark Nichol, a writer at Daily Writing Tips, picks five of the best grammar and punctuation books, and tells us why bad grammar leads to anarchy.