The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century Hardcover – Sep 30 2014
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Praise for The Sense of Style
“[The Sense of Style] is more contemporary and comprehensive than “The Elements of Style,” illustrated with comic strips and cartoons and lots of examples of comically bad writing. [Pinker’s] voice is calm, reasonable, benign, and you can easily see why he’s one of Harvard’s most popular lecturers.”
—The New York Times
“Pinker's linguistical learning…is considerable. His knowledge of grammar is extensive and runs deep. He also takes a scarcely hidden delight in exploding tradition. He describes his own temperament as "both logical and rebellious." Few things give him more pleasure than popping the buttons off what he takes to be stuffed shirts.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“[W]hile The Sense of Style is very much a practical guide to clear and compelling writing, it’s also far more…. In the end, Pinker’s formula for good writing is pretty basic: write clearly, try to follow the rules most of the time—but only the when they make sense. It’s neither rocket science nor brain surgery. But the wit and insight and clarity he brings to that simple formula is what makes this book such a gem.”
“Erudite and witty… With its wealth of helpful information and its accessible approach, The Sense of Style is a worthy addition to even the most overburdened shelf of style manuals.”
“Forget Strunk and White’s rules—cognitive science is a surer basis for clear and cogent writing, according to this iconoclastic guide from bestselling Harvard psycholinguist Pinker... Every writer can profit from—and every writer can enjoy—Pinker’s analysis of the ways in which skillfully chosen words engage the mind.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Yet another how-to book on writing? Indeed, but this is one of the best to come along in many years, a model of intelligent signposting and syntactical comportment…Pinker's vade mecum is a worthy addition to any writer’s library.”
“In this witty and practical book on the art of writing, Pinker applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the crafting of clear, elegant prose: #requiredreading.”
—Publishers Weekly, PW pick Fall 2014 Announcements
“Who better than a best-selling linguist and cognitive scientist to craft a style guide showing us how to use language more effectively?”
“[A] dense, fascinating analysis of the many ways communication can be stymied by word choice, placement, stress, and the like. [Pinker’s] explanations run rich and deep, complemented by lists, cartoons, charts on diagramming sentences, and more.”
“This book is a graceful and clear smackdown to the notion that English is going to the proverbial dogs. Pinker has written the Strunk & White for a new century while continuing to discourage baseless notions such as that the old slogan should have been ‘Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should.’”
—John McWhorter, author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and The Power of Babel
“Great stuff! Only Steven Pinker could have written this marvelous book, and thank heaven he has. ‘Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived,’ he writes, and The Sense of Style will flip the way you think about good writing. Pinker’s curiosity and delight illuminate every page, and when he says style can make the world a better place, we believe him.”
—Patricia T. O’Conner, author of Woe Is I and, with Stewart Kellerman, Origins of the Specious
Praise for The Better Angels of Our Nature
"A supremely important book...a masterly achievement."
—The New York Times Book Review
—The Wall Street Journal
"One of the most important books I've read--not just this year, but ever."
Praise for The Stuff of Thought
"Packed with information...Clear, witty, attractively written."
—The New York Review of Books
"A display of fiercely intricate intelligence."
—The Times (London)
"Engaging and provocative . . . It's good to have a mind as lively and limpid as his bringing the ideas of cognitive science to the public."
—Douglas Hofstadter, Los Angeles Times
"Curious, inventive, fearless, naughty."
—The New York Times
Praise for The Blank Slate
"Sweeping, erudite, sharply argued, and fun to read . . . also highly persuasive."
"Ought to be read by anybody who . . . thinks they already know where they stand on the science wars. . . . It could change their minds."
"Pinker is a star, and the world of science is lucky to have him." —Richard Dawkins
About the Author
Steven Pinker is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Overall then, it's a pretty darn good book. Unfortunately, being a linguistics expert, Pinker does let the book get bogged down in technical terms. Are you familiar with fused participles (possessives with gerunds)? I'm guessing that most of you, like me, are not. While he does an admirable job of explaining the technical terms of grammar, there's so much of it that it makes it hard to focus on the actual advice. That's the main reason why I'm giving this book four stars instead of five. If you are an editor, English professor, or someone else who truly understands the terminology of English grammar (or if you want to be someone who does) then this is almost certainly a five-star book for you.Read more ›
- a close analysis of examples of both older and contemporary writing that illustrate his advice
- an examination of the classical rules of English grammar and usage that Writers Take Note indicates which to break, which to cling to
- a strong emphasis on the two most important points, clarity and communication of meaning.
This is not for the beginner learning English, nor for the average writer of texting and emails. But most professional writers and all who appreciate literature, graceful style and clear communication of ideas can benefit from a close reading of Pinker's prose.
I learned three or four extremely valuable things, five or six slightly less valuable things, and entertained and contemplated a host of other suggestions and ideas. I liked the book’s own style (it’s well written), most of the selected examples of exceptional and horrible writing, the cartoons, the counterattack as it were on grammar Nazis, and many other aspects. However, I was nearly bored to tears by Chapter 4, The Web, the Tree, and the String. I find tree charts soporific and don’t think analyzing language in such terms (preposition/noun phrase/noun phrase/verb phrase) is helpful. However, if you prefer psycholinguistics over sociolinguistics, you might revel in this section. I would also have liked to see a more modern or balanced view on the nature of language, i.e. language as a conveyor of ideology and language as power. That Pinker doesn’t conceptualize language this way is unfortunate. It’s helped create a book that is eminently erudite yet somewhat conservative. I suppose that you cannot be all things to all people, but Mr. Pinker is one of the world’s leading public intellectuals. If I were in that position, I wouldn’t be so cautious.
Troy Parfitt is the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World
It definitely belongs on my shelf of books about writing and editing, and I will no doubt be adding it to my gift-book list for a few writing obsessed friends.
Most recent customer reviews
Pinker's got a lot to say. Too much, at times, and he can become quite pedantic. It's what he himself calls "the curse of knowledge. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ian Chadwick
I found this book very readable and useful: I became more conscious of my writing style and the choices available for reaching your intended audience. Read morePublished 14 months ago by William Shaw
Review courtesy of www.subtleillumination.com
Steven Pinker “writes like an angel.” – The Economist
Cotton clothing is made from is grown in Egypt. Read more
Not just about style of writing, but style of thinking.Published 20 months ago by Dr. R.G. (Randy) Goebel
As a non-native speaker, I enjoyed reading this book more than any other grammar book or style guide. Read morePublished 21 months ago by P. Essy.
Pinker argues that there are no grammar rules and shows writers how to use logic, wit, and verve to produce clear, elegant prose. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jacqueline Tinson