About The Joy of English



Collins English Dictionary (12th Ed.) 2014

When the people at Collins said they were sending me a copy of their latest dictionary I never could have guessed what a whopping big book it would be. It arrived by courier in a shipping bag as large as a pillow. It is no wonder that it is being touted as "the largest single-volume English dictionary in print".



On first impression it is beautiful. The funky hard-back binding is of embossed black cloth with elegant and contemporary typography front and back, doing away with the pesky paper jackets that only ever wear and tear with time. This provides good grip. It is a great strategy by Collins to depart from the staidness of its competitors by adopting a modern look and feel in the age when everything is screen-based. This is a dictionary that announces its presence on the bookshelf.

Click here to read the full review of Collins English Dictionary 2014


How To Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times (2013)

By Roy Peter Clark
ISBN-13: 978-0-316-20435-4

Little, Brown and Company


"... on the subject of short-order writing for today's online world this book is unsurpassed and likely to be unmatched for a long time to come."


Roy Peter Clark - cover How To Write ShortAmerican Roy Peter Clark is better known at home than abroad but deserves recognition throughout the English-speaking world. I first encountered him when I happened across his book Writing Tools – a fiendishly clever book that blew me away – which I have been recommending ever since. So now, he has a new book entitled How To Write Short and I am dying to know what this book has in store.

Clark begins by stating that he wrote this book to inform a generation of writers who in these fast-paced times ­of blogs and tweets need to write good short writing that “makes us stop, read, and think". The most important messages, he argues, are short, include the key elements and immediate. This can also be achieved without sacrificing literary values. In fact, short writing is nothing new.

Click here to read the full review of How To Write Short


For Who the Bell Tolls (2013)

By David Marsh
ISBN-13: 978-1783350124

Guardian Faber Publishing


"While other books – to borrow from Talking Heads – quickly “Stop Making Sense”, this one walks on stage and makes a whole lot of sense."


David Marsh book For Who the Bell Tolls coverThe market for books about English usage and grammar in particular has in my mind become polarised in the last decade or so between books that tell you off and those that genuinely give encouragement. Something strange has happened. The prescriptive/descriptive views are now Old School. The new paradigm is punitive and … well, plain old helpful. This new release by David Marsh, production editor at the Guardian newspaper since 1996 and editor of its style guide on language and language blogger, is a quirky book written with a genuine passion that is rarely found in grammar books. To say it simply, this is a joy to read.


Click here to read the full review of For Who the Bell Tolls


Gwynne's Grammar (2013)

By N.M Gwynne

"Steeped in a rectitudinal style that many will find mellifluous but which others will find stultifying"

Gwynne's GrammarGwynne's Grammar is the current darling of the grammar-book scene. Ebury Press republished it in a new format in April this year and it has shot right to the top of the sales charts, much in the way that Eats, Shoots, & Leaves did a decade earlier. Whether or not this book reaches the 5-million mark a la Eats remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: if you liked Eats, Shoots, & Leaves then this book is for you; if, however, you disliked its verboseness then you may have the same feelings towards this book.


Click here to read the full review of Gwynne's Grammar.


HBR Guide to: Better Business Writing (2013)

By Bryan A. Garner

"A valuable weapon in every business writer’s arsenal"

Bryan A Garner HBR Guide to Better Business WritingAmerican Bryan A. Garner is a noted lawyer and businessman on the one hand, and a grammarian and lexicographer on the other. His published works include Garner’s Modern American Usage, a book that I personally rate as among the top-five books currently available on English usage, Black’s Law Dictionary and The Elements on Legal Style. He is also a contributor to the esteemed Chicago Manual of Style. He has also trained 150,000 lawyers in the art of written persuasion and effective contract drafting for dozens of Fortune 500 companies.

Garner’s latest book, The Harvard Business Review (HBR) Guide to Better Business Writing, makes the leap from writing for the legal sphere to meeting the needs of the modern business writer. So, what does this new book offer?

Click here to read the full review of HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.


One language, two grammars? (2009)

By Gunter Rohdenburg and Julia Schluter

"Exposes several keenly held generalisations and long held falsehoods about standard American English and its relationship with British English"

Prior to the publication of One language, two grammars?, the two best books that take seriously the grammatical contrasts between American English (AE) and British English (BE) are British and American English (1972; long out-of-print) by Peter Strevens and the recent  British or American English? (2006) by John Algeo. The work by Strevens remains the only book-length treatment of the differences between the grammars of AE and BE. The text by Algeo, also part of the same English Studies series, is predominantly an expanded alphabetical list of competing lexical and phraseological terms grouped by grammatical subcategories.
From the start, One language, two grammars? exposes several keenly held generalisations and long held falsehoods about standard American English and its relationship with British English. More importantly the book backs up its claims by presenting reams of new statistical findings that put paid -- once and for all? -- the simplistic view that the two streams of English should be treated as though they were one and the same.

Click here to read the full review of One language, two grammars?.