Writing Sentences is not easy. These books have been helpful in my struggle to make my sentences smooth as silk and as delicious as a sugar-sprinkled donut. There may be lots of other useful books I haven’t yet discovered, but these listed below are, in my opinion, essential reads.
If you have any suggestions for other books to be included here, please let me know via the comments at the bottom of the page.
Disclosure: These are affiliate links and I get a small % from Amazon if you buy them through me.
First You Write a Sentence by Joe Moran. Reading this book is like eating the best chocolate. His sentences are delicious.
The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth is my go-to handy reference for rhetoric. It’s an easy read and Mark writes with wit, showing his erudition lightly, as they say.
Words Like Loaded Pistols by Sam Leith is broader in scope than Mark Forsyth’s Elements of Eloquence, as Forsyth admits. They are both worth getting.
Leith discusses the whole art of rhetoric, the purpose of which is persuasion. As such, he does not limit himself to the technical devices of the sound and rhythm of words but goes more broadly into the performative and historical aspects of the Art of Rhetoric.
In the UK it was titled ‘You Talkin’ To Me?’ but the North American title is miles better.
Farnsworth’s Classic Rhetoric by Ward Farnsworth takes most of the key rhetorical devices and illustrates them with excerpts from the writing of American, British, Irish and other English-speaking speakers and writers.
The good thing is you can use them like a copywriter’s ‘swipe’ file and take them and imitate them and sound amazing.
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences by Julia Casagrande is an authoritative and fun read. It makes my list.
Analyzing Prose by I didn’t know I needed this book so much until I bought it.
Dreyer’s English: a very dry and witty walk through English grammar and style by one of the USA’s foremost copyeditors.
I learned lots from reading this book, and I thought I knew it all!