I have to admit when I was approached to read and write a review of The Book of Writing by Paula LaRocque, I was a touch apprehensive. I was eager to read the book and hopefully learn tips to improve my writing. But I wasn't sure I'd have the motivation to actually finish it and write a review. After all, most writing books tend to be a bit boring.
Between college, grad school and teaching both college and high school writing courses, I have read my fair share of writing books. Most of them tend to stick to purely grammatical issues, and it seems like they all cover basically the same problems.
This is why I was pleasantly surprised by LaRocque's book. First off, her writing style is so easy and enjoyable to read. Her examples are surprisingly fun; she gives wonderfully overwritten and verbose examples of what not to do and then follows them with a cleaned up version.
Secondly, I love LaRocque's take on good writing, which is to be as clear and concise as possible. The fewer words you can use to get your point across, the better. She proves that using fewer words can often be much more powerful than flowery descriptions, but she also admits that different situations call for different styles, an admission not all writing experts make. For example, though an advocate of the active voice, LaRocque admits that the passive voice is preferable in some cases.
Another great thing about this book is it is not dedicated to grammar, and while mechanics are discussed, they do not monopolize the text. Instead she focuses on more advanced writing issues, like avoiding wordiness, using metaphors well, and building suspense.
As I read this book, I found myself analyzing what I was reading and writing and looking for ways to make it tighter and more vivid. I know I have a long way to go, but I'm excited to have a book that is so easily accessible to guide the way.
If you are looking for a book that can help you improve your writing, check out The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well. When I go back to teaching, if I am given the opportunity to choose the course text, I will definitely opt for The Book on Writing.