The Penguin Writer’s Manual, Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis

The Penguin Writer’s Manual features on my list of recommended books and my own bookshelf. The blurb describes it as follows:

The Penguin Writer’s Manual is the essential companion for anyone who wants to master the art of writing good English. Whether you’re composing an essay, sending a business letter or an email to a colleague, or firing off an angry letter to a newspaper, this guide will help you to brush up you communication skills and write correct and confident English.

via The Penguin Writer’s Manual.

BookshelfThe book isn’t as belligerent as that passage makes it sound. The value of this book is probably not in the depth of its explanations. If you need a quick refresher on what an adverbial phrase or a preposition is, this will help. The sections on word usage and vocabulary are also useful.

I think the value of this book is in its advice. The Penguin Writer’s Manual was published in 2002, but its content is still surprisingly relevant. (I am still coming to terms with 2002 being a long time ago.)

If you need to write a business letter but you aren’t sure what to include, the guidelines are well explained with examples of good practice. Other types of communication you may not do on a daily basis are also addressed, such as letters of sympathy or job references.

The authors also give more general advice, including discussions on style and effective communication. Much of the advice is easy to understand and apply, and yet in some ways profound:

One of the wisest uses of time is to think about precisely what it is you wish or need to say.

The book has 352 pages and would be easy to tuck into your bag if you wanted to work outside. You can find the book and more reviews on Amazon, but you can probably pick up a second-hand copy for a very reasonable amount.


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