Douglas Sherk's Reviews > The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
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Apr 29, 2017

really liked it

The Elements of Style is a terse and shallow exploration of writers' commonly made mistakes and neglected sentence-paragraph structures. It's composed of several chapters, each one assigned high-level concepts such as "style," "paragraph and sentence structure," etc. It's further broken down into sub-sections, each one with actionable suggestions, including explanations and examples demonstrating both the erroneous and correct forms. You would appreciate this style if you also appreciate instruction manuals and textbooks.

The first time I'm using what I've learned is in writing this review. As I tap away at the keyboard, I'm alternating between my review's text and my notes, where I've copied a dauntingly large amount of the book's recommendations. If you read this book, you too will anguish at rewriting a sentence several times before settling on its final form; and it'll be worth it.

I am a man who enjoys complying with standards and best practices insofar as exceptions aren't obviously warranted. This applies to language, purchases, programming, and many other areas of my life. If you don't also derive pleasure from standardization, you will be frustrated by this book.

Many other persons gave this book unfavorable reviews. Note that the use of the word "persons" rather than "people" is one of its recommendations. I'm a novice writer–if one would even dare to call me a writer at all. This book was quite helpful to me, but I would have benefited from analyzing more examples. I caution that unless you're making many mistakes already, you will need to read many more books to improve your writing significantly.

Overall, I recommend reading this book. It took me only four hours to get through from beginning to end while taking notes. As I haven't fully internalized it, I will, however, write substantially slower for the foreseeable future. If you write as part of your career, or you're interested in writing as a hobby, you too will almost certainly benefit from reading it.
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Reading Progress

April 27, 2017 – Started Reading
April 29, 2017 – Shelved
April 29, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 29, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 29, 2017 – Finished Reading

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