On Writing [Part One]
From time to time, I hope to offer some advice about writing, mainly through the recommendation of books that one should read. They will be books about writing per se and books that should acclimate us to the highest writing standards of our day because of their literary quality.
First is The Elements of Style or better known as Strunk and White. I’m sure most people have heard of this book and have read it. Mechanics of writing should not be an issue for those who wish to write meaningfully. But in case it is, please read this. Even seasoned writers keep this book nearby and read it once a year at least. The little book has timeless advice on such things as comma usage, active constructions, style considerations, and a potpourri of great counsel. It is told with a subtle sense of humor. It’s actually a fun read.
There are a few editions out there. Get either the third or fourth edition. The fourth edition has a short but nice foreword by Roger Angell, who is considered among the finest essayists alive today (as opposed to the dead ones). He writes frequently for The New Yorker. His essays on baseball, for example, are famous, attracting readers who even hate the sport. For a glimpse of his writing, you may read this essay of his. One more thing: Angell is the step-son of the late E. B. White, as in “Strunk and White.”