Adventures in Reading

Revisted Reviews: Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande and Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Connor

While reading Grammar Snobs, I kept wondering if it was healthy to be laughing so much at a book on grammar. I read the book in one sitting (excluding a short walk with the dog and a few minutes hiding from a door-to-door salesperson) and it has to be one of the most-user-friendly books I’ve ever encountered when it comes to grammar. In addition, Casagrande may be the first author I’ve encountered who doesn’t immediately disparage modern “netspeak” and attempts at countering racism and sexism in language. A great read for anyone looking to brush up on grammar or to become more familiar with writing.

Woe Is I was suggested to me some years ago by an English literature professor and I’ve only finally gotten around to finishing it. As the title states, it’s a grammar guide written in (mostly) plain English. Woe Is I is a an easy and enjoyable read for anyone wanting to brush up on their grammar, spelling, and punctuation and O’Connor makes use of terrific and creative sentences that make the various rules easier to recall. I certainly had some disagreements with the book (after all, language is living) and the biggest turn off for me was the lack of acknowledging more progressive and modern language.

It’s not really much of a secret: I’m quite the fan of evolving language and progressive usage. This has led to heated arguments with more antiquarian language sticklers, but unless you’re writing for a specific style guide (e.g. for work or an academic paper) most usage rules (and even some grammar) seem pretty damn flexible. (Even dictionaries disagree!) In nearly a year of blogging at Adventures in Reading, I have received a small amount of nit picks from persnickety grammar readers, which I always find curious because my blog of all places is so casual and informal. Regardless of the “snobs” out there, language is fun and entertaining and one of my secret joys is perusing recently published grammar and usage guides.

Revisted Reviews: Lord of the Flies by William Goulding

I first read Lord of the Flies in high school and recall being the only person in class who actually enjoyed the book (and also the only one who disliked Frankenstein – in retrospect it seems many of my literary tastes were opposed by my peers!). I picked it up off of my shelf a few days ago (cracked binding, faded glue, all the pages falling out, and thus demanding a rubber band) and finally reread it: I still like it.

It’s the story of a group of English boys trapped on a deserted island. In an attempt to be rescued, the boys begin to cultivate their own civilization with structure and orders. This all to quickly falls apart. Lord of the Flies is a short masterpiece of children’s lives mirroring the adult sphere and, like so many other books

lodged in the annuals of high school literature, too often is read at an age when a person is most likely to lack the understanding of the full implications of the novel. A splendid read and I really ought to look into what else Goulding has written.

When I reached the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, with the brief though beautifully direct description of the battleships on the horizon, I had to wonder if I had ever actually finished reading the book. I wonder what exactly should students read in high school (as I regularly feel a book is too demanding for many high school students), but I am beginning to think that we simply expect students to read far too much. For whatever reason, many high schools seem to want to just plow through as many books as possible.