Book Review: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White (4/5)

30 Jan

This is one of those books that I feel I would have read if I majored in English. If I’d taken a writing course, I’d have read this. But, alas, it isn’t taught in Spanish literature courses or alongside Accounting. So I missed this ageless instruction manual of writing and picked up a copy at a used book sale. I ended up listening to a reading of it but I’m glad to have a paper copy that I can reference later when I need to.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Summary from Goodreads:

This style manual offers practical advice on improving writing skills. Throughout, the emphasis is on promoting a plain English style. This little book can help you communicate more effectively by showing you how to enliven your sentences.

I was surprised how much of this I already knew from school. I guess that means I did get a good writing education after all! Or maybe these elements are more commonly taught now and I’m nothing special. They were all good reminders and I think this is a solid reference book. It’s worth reading through every once in a while just to remember how to structure an argument or sentences in general.

I was glad there was a section on parallel phrasing. I try describing this to people all the time and it doesn’t make sense to them. Strunk had a good way to describe it so maybe I’ll just hand people a copy of this book when I tell them to use parallel phrasing in sentence structure. I also really liked Strunk’s advice about how to arrange a sentence to put emphasis on the element that’s most important. That one was new to me and I think I’ll use it.

I found the section on spelling and the one on commas a bit hard to absorb while listening. I think if I’d been reading it, I would have gotten more from those sections. The narrator I had didn’t help, he was monotone and didn’t stress the parts that were different in the example sentences.

William Strunk Jr.
Image via Goodreads

The edition I listened to was narrated by William Bridgewater. I thought he was really terrible. He pronounced some words strangely (semicolon as sem-EE-ko-LON for example) and it distracted me from the narrative. He was also very monotone and had odd inflections that were, again, distracting.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book is worth revisiting from time to time. The advice in it is really solid and at such a short length, it doesn’t take a long time to look through it for a refresher.

A great little reference book that’s probably better read than listened to. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White Review 3/5 | Blogs of a Bookaholic


5 Responses to “Book Review: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White (4/5)”

  1. Kelsey @ There's Something About KM January 30, 2018 at 10:19 AM #

    I didn’t realize there was an audio version of this book, how interesting! I’m not great at absorbing information like this through just listening, but it’s nice to know that this vital resource is available for people who are.


    • Sam January 30, 2018 at 11:20 AM #

      There were a few different recordings available. Perhaps another one was better narrated than the one I chose. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jabrush1213 January 30, 2018 at 6:20 PM #

    My professor in college assigned us this book to read. I still have the copy and use it when I have to. This is definitely a book that, in my opinion, all should read in high school.


    • Sam January 30, 2018 at 6:21 PM #

      I wish I had! It covered a lot of the grammar we were taught in school so it would have been a good pick. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jabrush1213 January 30, 2018 at 6:23 PM #

        Same here! I was a junior in college when I first received the copy. I read it in one sitting asking myself why didn’t this book get recommended to me earlier.

        Liked by 1 person

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