Book Review: Word Trippers 2nd Edition by Barbara McNichol

What a lifesaver for writers and editors alike! Fellow NAIWE member Barbara McNichol has compiled in one easy-to-navigate manual the most crazy-making words from A-Z that, yes, trip us up. No more scrambling through stacks of reference books, as now the answers we seek are right at our fingertips.

Who among us hasn’t agonized over “affect” or “effect”? “Lay” or “lie”? “Who” or “whom”? Word Trippers comes to our rescue, but it doesn’t stop there. It also includes homophones that trip us up, like vial/vile and waver/waiver. Excellent!

My personal word tripper is “comprise” or “compose.” I have sought several sources and have never found an explanation to help keep them straight in my mind. Until now. Thank you, Word Trippers!

Word Trippers 2nd Edition is a must for every writer and editor.

Book Review: Grammar Girl’s 101 Troublesome Words You’ll Master in No Time

Writing the simplest statement has often been a nightmare for me. No kidding. Here’s but a brief glimpse as to what I go through: “Alright (all right?), my oldest (or is it eldest?) granddaughter had just gotten (is that even a word??) into (one word? two?) her dad’s Jeep for the long trek back home while I (when I, maybe?)–Oh, forget it!!” Okay, so I’m a tad anal . . . and neurotic . . .

So thank goodness for Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty, who has saved my grammatical sanity once again. Just when I thought that nothing could top her Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and Grammar Devotional as my go-to guides when mired in writerly angst, she comes out with the jewel Grammar Girl’s 101 Troublesome Words You’ll Master in No Time.  And it’s right on time too. I’m not sure how much longer I could have hovered on the brink.

Before, I tore my style guides and other references apart, searching for guidance on these 101 troublesome (translation: crazy-making) words, but no more. Grammar Girl’s much-needed and welcomed advice in 101 Troublesome Words lays (or is it lies? Looked it up–it’s lays) just within reach as I bang away on my keyboard. And I feel sooo much better now, as stability is now restored in grammar world (well, at least for the moment). And you, my fellow anal/neurotics (you know who you are), will feel much better too. I promise.

Thank you, Grammar Girl. Once again.


Book Review: The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English by Roy Peter Clark

What is glamorous about grammar, right? Even I, a self-professed word nerd and lover of all things grammatical, am hard-pressed to glean the glamour in grammar. But Roy Peter Clark explains the purpose behind his titillating title: “Was there ever in the popular imagination a word less glamorous than grammar? But what if I were to tell you that at one time in the history of our language, grammar and glamour were the same word? . . . The bridge between the words . . . is magic.”

 Hooked? Intrigued, maybe? Well, that’s all I’m going to reveal. You must read this “enchanting” book to learn more about Mr. Clark’s grammar tools (Not rules! Yay!) for words, punctuation, writing standards, and the employment of words to convey meaning as well as use toward a noble purpose.

The Glamour of Grammar is no stuffy, eye-glazing tome. Roy Peter Clark’s love for language and its practical application is evident through his conversational, down-to-earth style sprinkled with witty quips and personal anecdotes.

(This review is also posted on

Book Review: The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time

From the first page, I applauded Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson’s cross-country trek on their noble mission of restoring proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I encounter such public gaffes far too often and embarrass myself by gesturing and shouting at guilty billboards on the highway. I yell at the television when captions flash across the screen containing misspelled words and misplaced apostrophes. So when I heard that these two gentlemen took up arms in the form of a Typo Correction Kit and headed out to right these pervasive grammatical wrongs, I couldn’t wait to read their story.

Jeff and Benjamin did not disappoint. Not only is their grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation flawless (as one would expect), their humorous storytelling is filled with informative, historical tidbits regarding the English language. One of my favorites concerns the battle between language Prescriptivists and Descriptivists, whom Jeff dubs Grammar Hawks and Grammar Hippies respectively, which dates back to the late twelfth century and continues to this day.

Jeff and Benjamin then go on to provide a solution to our nation’s slide into orthographic apathy by giving us an inside look at Direct Instruction, a highly effective yet too-little-implemented teaching model used in conjunction with phonics-based reading instruction. Priceless!

But never did I anticipate that our heroes’ noble mission would be met with antagonism, outright hostility, even run-ins with the law. Who would have thought that a brief, relaxing visit to the Grand Canyon (which included only some minor typo corrections) would turn into a legal nightmare?

This chronicle of Jeff and Benjamin’s illustrious journey was the next best thing to riding shotgun. For all word nerds and lovers of the English language–maybe even (or especially) for those who aren’t–The Great Typo Hunt is a gotta-read.

(This review is also posted on