Wordsmith’s Favourite Books and Web Sites – Part 1

Among my current top books and web sites for information, practical advice, and inspiration are the following:

–     Oxford Canadian Dictionary—perhaps this is obvious, but wordworkers need to know words, check their meanings, correct their spellings, and fall into the wonder of words. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a writer who will be edited (leaving the picky stuff to the editor) or a developmental/substantive/structural editor (whose work will be taken through the next stage by a copyeditor), a dictionary is invaluable. And having on hand at least one, hard copy dictionary will encourage you to use it lots and apply the preferences of one dictionary consistently; do NOT depend only on a mishmash of online dictionaries. (More about dictionaries in a coming blog…)

–       Oxford Canadian A-Z of Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation—handy and a quick guide to save you from falling yet again into the same old mess. Many writers make certain errors consistently (e.g., abuse who and whom). If you know your regular errors, get a good book such as this guide, highlight and flag it, and refer to it regularly. Eventually, you’ll overcome the habit.

–       Elements of Style by Strunk and White—The editions have gotten progressively thicker and thicker, but they’re all good. This is the book a professor insisted I buy in 1st year university. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

–       On Writing Well by William Zinsser—Again, there are various editions, but this is good, solid, wise advice for people writing (and editing) nonfiction.

–       The Firefly Visual Dictionary—yes, this might seem weird, but this book is a dictionary filled with pictures and labeled with 35 000 terms. It’s an inspiration but also a solid reference for figuring out the right word for that thingy that hangs down the main character’s coat.

–       quirky, word-obsessed web sites such as A.Word.A.Day or The Oatmeal or  Wondermark

© Laura Edlund 2010