The Elements of Style
by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White
William Strunk was a professor of English at Cornell about a hundred years ago, and E.B. White, later the much-admired author of Charlotte's Web, took English with him in 1919.
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.
"The Elements of Style" is one of the definitive texts on all elements of English language style, usage, and composition. Strunk covers such topics as "elementary Rules of Usage," "Elementary Principles of Composition," "A Few Matters of Form," "Words and Expressions Commonly Misused," and "Words Often Misspelled."
Strunk asserts that one must first know the rules to break them. This classic reference book is a must-have for any student and conscientious writer. It is intended for use in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature, and it gives in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style and concentrates attention on the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.
How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One
by Stanley Fish
Outspoken New York Times columnist, and the professor of humanities and law at Florida International University , Stanley Fish offers an entertaining, erudite analysis of language and rhetoric in this delightful celebration of the written word. Drawing on a wide range of great writers, from Philip Roth to Antonin Scalia to Jane Austen and beyond, Fish’s How to Write a Sentence is much more than a writing manual—it is a penetrating exploration into the art and craft of sentences.
Fish treats the sentence as more than a purely utilitarian construct. His interest is piqued primarily, he tells us, by “skill” — admiring sentences is like watching sports highlights, with “a rueful recognition that you couldn’t do it yourself.” That said, he believes one should try one’s best, and his aesthetic appreciation is matched by a practical drive. Having taught composition courses and workshops at universities since the ’60s, Fish has long insisted, against the grain of many an English department, that writing should be taught as an end in itself, that learning to write involves learning to think.
As its title suggests, How to Write a Sentence is in part a how-to manual; it’s also a book of analysis, and a paean to the written word and the ways it can be organized. Fish is a personable and insightful guide with wide-ranging erudition and a lack of pretension: To illustrate his points, he trots out sentences by writers and rhetoricians from Edgar Allan Poe to Martin Luther King, from John Milton to Elmore Leonard.