The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
Note: I feel like as a writing guide, this is a 5-star book, but as a ‘general’ book it’s only worthy of 4 stars.
I was given this book by my dad who said “all readers and writers should read this at some point in their careers”. I expected to be thoroughly bored with The Sense of Style, but found myself pleasantly interested.
Steven Pinker is a cognitive scientist who writes books on how to write, and does it well. This guide is extremely well-organized, which makes it easy to find exactly what topics you’re looking for. He starts by explaining and breaking down sentence structure in a way that makes sense and is a bit different than the way I was taught in high school. Pinker uses examples from texts to outline the good and bad ways to use language and grammar. I like how he shows the reader how to write rather than tells them. He also includes a chart of words that used to have only one meaning but now have more common usages. For example, “presently” technically means “soon”, but it now used to mean “now”. Pinker discusses these differences and accepts both definitions.
Pinker clearly distinguishes himself from people who don’t understand that the english language is constantly evolving. He disregards a few ‘old’ english rules and replaces them with his own rules. I think that Pinker has a very modern way of writing that’s important for an ever-changing lexicon. I definitely learned a lot from this guide and would recommend it to people pursuing writing as a career.