Sep 23, 2013

Grammar Hammer: A Fall Reading List

The kids are back in school. Fall schedules have started to fill with football games, soccer games, and band practice. Those household projects you’d planned to do all summer are now more pressing as the leaves start to fall and the weather cooperates less and less. I start looking for those rare moments when I can grab my book, a cup of coffee, and park myself in a chair to read for a few minutes.

I’m all about reading lists right now, compiling my list of books to keep me company on planes, trains, and automobiles as my family and I tour Yellowstone and the countryside of Wyoming later in September. I’m taking suggestions for must-reads on my trip.

I’ve also been asked for my favorite grammar reads, so in the spirit of my fall reading list, I’m sharing my favorite books for my fellow grammarians and word nerds.

  • “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” by Lynne Truss – “It’s tough being a stickler for punctuation these days,” Truss writes. YES. Yes, it is.
  • “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” by Mignon Fogarty – Grammar Girl was one of the first resources I sought out when I was asked to take over the Grammar Hammer feature for PR Newswire. Her tips have been invaluable. Follow her on Twitter @GrammarGirl.
  • “Yes, I Could Care Less,” “The Elephants of Style,” and “Lapsing Into a Comma” three books by Bill Walsh – I bought Walsh’s first book (“Lapsing Into a Comma”) right after it was published in 2000. I’ve always enjoyed his books and appreciate his dedication to the craft. In case you missed it, there was a fun Q&A with Walsh on the Washington Post this week. Follow him on Twitter @TheSlot.

There are also a few staple resources I would recommend:

  • AP Stylebook and Manual – I don’t get this question as often as I used to, but periodically clients would ask me what style they should use in their press releases. We always recommended AP style and it’s usually the first place I look if I’m trying to figure out the proper way of listing something.
  • Chicago Manual of Style – One of my career regrets was not taking advantage of a class that was just a few blocks from where I worked in Chicago that taught the Chicago Manual of Style. The most recent edition also offers key tips in electronic publishing.
  • “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B. White – Concise and powerful, this book is a staple for any writer.

What books make the cut for your shelf?

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at

Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

Fill in your details below: