Further Reading for Writers

books about business writingby Jody Bruner

We’re updating our annotated list of references in our writing skills manual and thought you may find some inspiration. Below you’ll find a collection of some of our favorite books that explore everything from ESL grammar to texting and email. Have any you’d add? Please leave us a comment!

Crystal, David, Txtng: The gr8 db8, Oxford University Press, 2008. 

Is texting ruining a generation of young writers? No at all, according to this heavy-weight linguist.  

Dreyer, Benjamin. Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. Random House New York, 2019. 

Benjamin is copy chief at Random House New York, and besides weighing in with authority on matters of style and usage, he seasons this guide with delicious anecdotes about editing world-famous writers and insights into the copy-editing process. It’s Strunk and White’s Elements of Style for the new millennium. 

Hacker, Diana. Sommers, Nancy. A Canadian Writer’s Reference, seventh edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, Boston, New York, 2019. 

A great grammar and style guide, especially if you’re Canadian. It’s easy to navigate and includes a section on ESL grammar. 

Hitchings, Henry, The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2008. 

A super interesting history of how English grows by absorbing words from cultures it encounters. If you like history and etymology, you’ll love this book. 

Kahneman, Daniel, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Anchor Canada edition. 2013. 

About two modes of thinking. We think fast when dashing off a quick email, but we need to think slow for high consequence writing. Good reminder! 

Krug, Steve, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. Circle.com Library, 2000. 

Great advice if you are writing and designing content for the web.  

Lynch, Jack, The Lexicographer’s Dilemma: The Evolution of “Proper” English, from Shakespeare to South Park, Walker & Company, New York, 2009. 

If you’ve ever wondered why American English differs so much from British English, this book explains it all. 

McCrum, Robert, Globish: How the English Language Became the World’s Language, Doubleday Canada, 2010. 

The title says it all—a fascinating explanation of how English has become the world’s language, even as Anglo-American power is on the wane. 

Sabin, William A., The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage and Formatting, Tribute Edition, 11th Ed., McGraw Hill, 2011. 

Written by Bill Sabin, who died in 2009. He was finishing the eleventh edition two days before he died, and I don’t know who will keep this classic, comprehensive resource updated. 

Stirling, Elaine, The Corporate Storyteller: A Writing Manual & Style Guide for the Brave New Business Leader, iUniverse, 2009. 

She explains how to breathe the energy of storytelling into even the driest business writing.  

A Plain English Handbook: How to create clear SEC disclosure documents, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, DC, 1998 

A pdf of this classic is available online. It contains a famously brilliant preface by Warren Buffett, one of the best plain language business writers around. 

Shipley, David. Schwalbe, Will, Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2007. 

It’s not new, but still full of great advice. 

The Canadian Style: A guide to writing and editing, Dundurn Press. 

Essential for business writers in Canada – covers everything clearly and simply.  

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