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Books for Writers
Random House Dictionary: Although this has been replaced, used copies are still available. It's a great basic dictionary.
Chicago Manual of Style: As style book come and go, the Chicago seems to be the most in depth, consistant, and informative. It does not replace specific style books like the MLA or the APA, but if you need one sourse, this is it.
On Moral Fiction: I have read this book a dozen times; and I have given away close to fifty copies over the years. It's not an easy read, but as things change, it goes to the soul.
Word and Phrase Origins: I have many books of word and phrase origins, including John Ciardi's, but this is the first one I reach for.
Dictionary of Modern Usage: Perhaps written for another age, it is an invaluable resourse.
Garner's Modern American Usage: This is my favorite American usage resourse. Where Fowler can be droll, Garner may make you laugh out loud while providing stunning clarity.
Modern American Usage (Follett): A handy addtion.
The King's English: Who and whom, will and shall, and other problems explored in depth and understanding without being tedious.
The Art of Fiction: Gardner's books on writing remain in print because they are good. He doesn't suggest it's easy or give a 1-2-3 method. Rather, he gives a careful overview of the craft and art of writing.
On Becoming a Novelist: Closer to On Moral Fiction than the Art of Fiction, Gardner discusses the problems and obligations—perhaps "challenge" would be a better word—of becoming a novelist.
Words to Rhyme With: With some half dozen to chose from, this is the book I reached for always, not just first. I lived with it for some 1600 lines of rhymed iambic pentameter, and I still enjoy it!
Aspects of the Novel: Although I enjoy people like IA Richards as much as I dislike Derrida, while balancing a special place for Umberto Eco, Forster's essays cut through lots of debris and hubris (enjoying the visual rhyme).
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