Originally published March 2019
So I read a reference book.
It’s not that I am so hard up for a new book that I picked up the only thing I hadn’t read cover to cover, lying* about my house. No, I sought this out in a bookstore.
“Dreyer’s English” came to my attention either through a witty Tweet, or mention on NPR, I can’t remember which. Upon learning the copy chief at Random House had written a reference-like read designed to answer often-asked questions and settle many a grammarly debate, I had to have it. And I can say wholeheartedly, if you love or even just like to write, then you need a copy on your desk. All I ask is one thing.
Read the damn footnotes.
Within the bonus text at the bottom of the pages lies the personality, wit and humor of Benjamin Dreyer.** And whether you agree or not with his stance on the series (Oxford) comma (I don’t) or the ghastly use of two spaces after a period (I do), you will most certainly find some commonality in his and your love for the English language.
For as, according to an actress/author in Dreyer’s introduction states, “Copy editors … are like priests, safeguarding their faith.”
Need some punctuation tips? You’ll find them here. Back up on which rules you can break? He’s got them. (Yes, you CAN start a sentence with an “And” or a “But.***) The final say on how to treat numbers, frequently misspelled words, confusables, peeves … Dreyer covers a lot of territory.
I initially thought “Dreyer’s English” is not really a book club pick, but now that I’ve had time to mull that one over, I’ve changed my mind. In fact, depending on the book club with which you roll, the book could spark enthusiastic altar calls or an impromptu Fight Club re-enactment.
A book for grammar nerds everywhere. Keep the faith.
**I am not using the damn series comma. No.
*** See two paragraphs above.