I am hesitant to tell people I majored in English. People associate that with crazy things like being able to spell and use proper grammar. The truth is I struggle with both. I don’t think I am an awful writer, but I have to edit a lot. Otherwise, well, embarrassing things happen. Like, um, using the wrong grammar on the sign you scrawl out in 5 seconds for your announcement photos that you then post all over social media . . .
Yep. That was not the fault our sweet photographer, Grace, that was all me. ” . . . then there was 5.” Should have been “were”. The only redeeming factor is since I am pregnant with twins, I have double the pregnancy brain, right? My sweet husband didn’t notice until after. And he didn’t say anything until I did. He just grimaced and said, “Yeah, I noticed it after.”
Hopefully we don’t end up on any internet list thing for Buzzfeed like “Examples of Bad Grammar” or “Pregnancy Brain”. You live and learn, right? Fortunately all of our friends and family are kind. No one has called us out on it. Yet.
I am not quite sure why grammar never fully clicked for me. I learned a lot my senior year of high school and in college, but it felt like most teachers avoided the subject. To be fair, I get the temptation to avoid it. I would rather teach any other aspect of English. Even public speaking. Of course my verbal grammar causes me anxiety too. Often while talking I get nervous thinking, Did I just sound like a hick? The way I talk people probably think I have a low IQ!
But, if like me, you are seeking to improve your grammar or you know an English major or college kid taking English classes and struggling through writing papers, I have the perfect book recommendation: The Elements of Style (affiliate link). Writers of all sorts have raved about this book. I bought it years ago, but alas, I never read it. Today is the day I am starting it–no more excuses! It is a classic in the world of writing and has stood the test of time. Anyone interested in reading it with me? We could meet up over coffee for a book talk. 😉 In all seriousness, it is half-price on Amazon right now. And (if you are not a prime member) Amazon is offering free shipping on book orders over $25. So grab a few extra copies for your friends–or, you know, other books.
Also, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes is also on sale right now. It is quite popular. I think I am going to buy it to test and quiz myself.
Already great at grammar? Let’s talk about some fun-to-read fiction books!
And I will try to stick to books that I actually think people would like. Otherwise my list will consist of a bunch of obscure books and poetry. Now, if that is your thing–I can totally hook you up with ideas!
Teenagers and college students can be hard to buy for. Or at least expensive: giftcards, pricey jeans, video games, cell phones, iPods (or whatever technology is currently popular), etc. But if you are looking for something quality that you will feel good about giving them, check out a couple of Ted Dekker’s newest novels. His writing is very accessible for teenagers with compelling plots and interesting characters. Mitch and I love to read or listen to on audio book to his novels. He is a Christian writer, but writes mostly in the fantasy and suspense genres. Mitch LOVES his fantasy series the Circle Series 4-in-1 (The Circle Series). Much like C.S. Lewis, he incorporates a lot of Christian imagery and themes. We know people of all ages–high school through adults–that enjoy his books.
Most recently, Ted Dekker has put out A.D. 30 and A.D. 33, fictional novels where his main character, Maviah, mets the Jewish teacher Jesus and is forever changed. As we all are when we encounter Jesus. These books are engaging, powerful, and challenging in the best of ways. Plus, as of right now, Amazon has great prices on his books plus the free shipping offer for $25 off an order of books. They would make excellent Christmas presents. 😉
Looking for something more intellectual or in the category of self-improvement?
A great book for college students who are “finding themselves” or deciding on careers or even beginning to date would be The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. It is written by Christians. It’s not weird Eastern Religion stuff, though it is rather ancient in its origins. Mitch and I have done a lot of different personality profiles over the years in college classes, while reading The Five Love Languages, and, of course all those Facebook quizes. And some have been very helpful, but none quite as much as what we have learned about the enneagram. I will let Mitch post further on this sometime, but it has really brought a lot of understanding and grace into our marriage. I recommend it for all ages, but especially during the college and young adult years.
Alright grammar sticklers out there–what other resources would you recommend to improve one’s grammar? What about fiction books?