Writing Book of the Month: February
"Dreyer's English" by Benjamin Dreyer
Benjamin Dreyer is the executive managing editor and copy chief at Random House, which makes his book on language a must-read for writers and editors a like. And, I'm happy to say, Dreyer's book is an enjoyable read and deserving of a place on your bookshelf.
Broken into two distinct parts—The Stuff in the Front and The Stuff in the Back—the book is a humorous and invaluable resource for writers. Dreyer breaks down the mystery of the em dash, when (and why) it's okay to break the rules, the much debated Oxford comma (Dreyer is, thankfully, pro-Oxford), and how to handle numbers in text.
Language Arts books are typically dry dos and don'ts type of books, and that is why I think most of them fail at their basic mission to make us a little smarter. Dreyer amuses as he instructs, and because of this artful approach, I think, the material sticks.
At the end of the day, Dreyer's aim is for clarity in communication. And in that goal, the book is a rousing success. Dreyer brings his wealth of experience on the job and his witty personality to the page, and we are all the better for it.
The index will come in handy for quick referencing, and there's an excellent list of several commonly misspelled words every writer should commit to mind.
My favorite section was 67 Things, where Dreyer rapid fires some of the most common mistakes and peeves he's encountered during his career. More than any other book on writing I've read in the last year, barring On Writing by Stephen King, 67 Things contains a wealth of sparkling pearls of usable wisdom that will help you be a better writer.
Like any other book on writing, it is ultimately up to the writer to use the information between the covers to elevate their craft. Dreyer has filled his book with an overflowing chest of treasures that should keep writers—and editors—on the hunt for the foreseeable future.
See you on the other side!