Sunday, October 25, 2015

Featured Book: The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek

Grammar books typically suffer from the "ugh" factor; they're a necessary tool for writing, but no one actually enjoys reading them. 

Well, Marsha Sramek's The Great Grammar Book: Mastering Grammar Usage and the Essentials of Composition is not typical. She uses fun facts, news article excerpts, and goofy trivia to demonstrate the principles of grammar. Plus, she vaporizes all that stuffy hot air espoused by the grammar police. Sramek leaves out the quirky, rare, and esoteric grammar usage and focuses on the commonly encountered bulk of real-world writing. 

If proper use of capitalization, quotation marks, and apostrophes has you pulling your hair out; if you need some little trick to help you remember whether to use "lie" or "lay;" or if you mistakenly think a lengthy sentence is the same thing as a run-on sentence, you will benefit from The Great Grammar Book. Sramek makes grammar and writing less intimidating. The book opens with a 100-question, diagnostic grammar test (with answer key) to help readers discern their grammar weaknesses. 

Of the book's twelve chapters, only three deal with parts of speech. The remaining chapters focus on common errors, usage, and double negatives, in addition to the areas mentioned above. Near the end of the book, a practical guide to better writing called "Successful Writing Strategies" addresses wordiness, unclear pronoun references, and meaningless phrases. 

Especially important to students is the advice on writing essays, research papers, and works of literary criticism. Sramek even includes a how-to on business letter writing. Every chapter in the book offers exercises and reviews, each with its own particular answer key, for self-study.

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