The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

The Sense of Style The Thinking Person s Guide to Writing in the st Century A short and entertaining book on the modern art of writing well by New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker Why is so much writing so bad and how can we make it better Is the English language

  • Title: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
  • Author: Steven Pinker
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 478
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • A short and entertaining book on the modern art of writing well by New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media Do the kids today even care about good writing Why should any of us care In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and coA short and entertaining book on the modern art of writing well by New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media Do the kids today even care about good writing Why should any of us care In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker answers these questions and Rethinking the usage guide for the twenty first century, Pinker doesn t carp about the decline of language or recycle pet peeves from the rulebooks of a century ago Instead, he applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose In this short, cheerful, and eminently practical book, Pinker shows how writing depends on imagination, empathy, coherence, grammatical knowhow, and an ability to savor and reverse engineer the good prose of others He replaces dogma about usage with reason and evidence, allowing writers and editors to apply the guidelines judiciously, rather than robotically, being mindful of what they are designed to accomplish Filled with examples of great and gruesome prose, Pinker shows us how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right.

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      Published :2019-07-15T18:29:25+00:00

    871 Comment

    • David says:

      I have enjoyed every one of Steven Pinker's books, and this one is no exception. Pinker writes engagingly, with humor, with intelligence, and with authority. He is the chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, so he has useful insights into how the English language is being used in print. As a linguist, he not only knows all the "rules" of writing, he understands the logic (or illogic) behind them. Moreover, he understands which "rules" are real, and which ones were just drea [...]

    • Andrew says:

      It started well. Your brain will finish the rest of that sentence.Or so Steven Pinker explains. The best way to describe this book is as a style guide that relies on neuroscience. Instead of admonishments based on grammar, old rules, and urban myths, Pinker explains the best way to write based on how our brain understand words on a page. Which makes this one of the more readable style guides out there in that it has a purpose instead of just being a list of literary taboos.But the list of taboos [...]

    • Roy Lotz says:

      I’ve long admired Pinker’s poise with the pen. Both The Blank Slate and The Language Instinct (the two books of his I’d before read) are, in my opinion at least, conspicuously well-written. Popular science is, contrary to what one might expect, a difficult genre; the writer must take complex ideas from esoteric subjects—ideas usually mired in technical terminology—and release them from their provincial prisons. Added to this complicated task of exegesis, the writer of popular science m [...]

    • Genevieve says:

      * Originally reviewed on the Night Owls Press blog here. *Heads-up, editors. In The Sense of Style, author Steven Pinker challenges every authoritarian grammarian and language purist who has held sway over the rules of the English language with their dogmatic style books. A psycholinguist by profession, Pinker is a scholar of the science of language. So it's no surprise that The Sense of Style feels like a modern alternative to the classic but tired guides of Strunk and White and others. In my d [...]

    • David Huff says:

      Having just embarked on a fairly intensive writing course, I asked my mentor for some recommendations of books on the craft of writing. This book, "The Sense of Style" was at the top of his list, and I can see why.The author, Steven Pinker, is a Psychology professor at Harvard, and has also done much research on language and cognition (he's described as a Cognitive Scientist). Further, he is chair of the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary. And it shows. All of it. He has written a v [...]

    • Amir The Fat Bookworm says:

      A great book on the considerations for writing non-fiction.This book was written with the amazing style of Pinker's usual writings and it was about that style and practical advice to improve one's writings. I am implementing the lessons I've learned from pinker in my writing process for my blog. And it improved my effectiveness to a great degree. It is worth knowing that most advice on the book contains pretty solid arguments for them. So you can use the arguments to find ways to improve writing [...]

    • ♥ Ibrahim ♥ says:

      This book was recommended to me by Professor Geoff Pullum, a grammarian of the highest caliber. I asked him for a book to recommend instead of Strunk & White that he, within good reason frowns upon. It is such a relief to know that we don't need a rigid book of style in order to be good writers. We need a "sense" of style instead, that sense that helps me to cook Egyptian rice like no other, as the women of Egypt would call it "el-nafas", that is, the "breath". Pinker is a genius and whateve [...]

    • Daniel Afloarei says:

      Un geniu și un must read pentru orice tip de scriitor. Recenzia aici:youtu/L0c3cXcuzXY

    • Б. Ачболд says:

      The single most helpful book on writing (nonfiction, mainly) I have read. If you write in Mongolian (or any other language), this will help too. Chapter 1: How to learn from good prose. BChapter 2: How to write in the "classical style." (Pinker will explain what that is.) AChapter 3: "The main cause of incomprehensible prose is the difficulty of imagining what it's like for someone else not to know something that you know." BChapter 4: On syntax. Makes grammar interesting and very helpful. AChap [...]

    • Steve says:

      Thanks to a Firstreads giveaway, I had a chance to read an advanced copy of Pinker's Sense of Style. My thoughts on the book are a bit mixed. Here goes:The Good:--Well, let's be honest--I just read a stylebook cover to cover; it must have SOMETHING going for it!--I found Pinker's wit to be on full display here, and that was a welcome addition to what can sometimes become dry material (i.e talk of grammar). Pinker's wit is at its best when he slyly breaks all the grammar rules he's discussing in [...]

    • Sherri says:

      I started out reading this book as I thought it was intended: a style manual for the modern day writer. I ended up equating it more to a textbook and reference guide for the modern day writer. I can easily see this book being required for college level courses. It is deep into sentence structure,and the entire last chapter is fantastic for reference. I liked his approach of writing so that one's brain has the most effective cognitive response to what it's reading. There were moments when I admit [...]

    • Jimmy Ele says:

      A very arrogant sounding title, lol. However, the title will make more sense after you read the book. This book is written for anyone who wants to put their thoughts down to paper in a coherent way and not be laughed at by the intelligentsia. It is a funny book that makes fun of grammar nazis while vying for supremacy as the ultimate grammar nazi. Steven Pinker has written many great books. Some of his books have converging ideas that merge into one another in different ways. This book is one of [...]

    • Thomas Edmund says:

      I love Pinker, and I love writing, so this really was the book for me. It was denser than I expected, and I thus I wouldn't recommend it for any looking for a light read in writing.The focus is more on academic non-fiction than other forms of non-fiction or fiction, but offers generally timeless advice about style and clarity. Pinker strikes a good balance between useful rules and avoiding pedantry. He occasionally breaks his own advice by overusing his large and eccentric vocabulary, but its al [...]

    • John Jaksich says:

      Pinker's book should be on every writer's shelf. In a mere 300 pages, he successfully expounds upon what it means to be a good writer. It stands alongside Strunk & White's short guide as what one needs to refer to as a guide. I plan to use it as a desk reference and it should be read more than once. I wholly recommend it.

    • Stacey says:

      Earthshattering it is not. Some good cartoons, though.

    • Holly says:

      What an enjoyable book. Charles McGrath in the Times: "In general [Pinker] takes the view that if a phrase or construction sounds O.K it probably is, and that many of the mistakes the purists get so worked up over — using 'like' with a clause, for example — have been made for hundreds of years by writers like Shakespeare." I knew this about Pinker from reading The Language Instinct: he is no purist or prescriptivist of proper English. McGrath feigns surprise and annoyance that Pinker can wri [...]

    • Nikki says:

      Perhaps a book on how to write by a scientist who studies neurology and linguistics and how they interact seems odd, but it’s right up Pinker’s street. He loves to think about language and the way it evolved, and what is natural for our brains when it comes to language. While he does go into the rules of grammar and the parts of speech and all of that, he tempers it with an understanding of why we make the kinds of mistakes we do, and when it might be time to let go and surrender to the fact [...]

    • William says:

      Steven Pinker is the titular heir to the throne of Noam Chomski; he, who overthrew one of the greatest empiricist of the 20th century B. F. Skinner. He did this by postulating that Homo sapiens are born with a language module already resident in their brains. Skinner tried to avoid any hints of homunculi but as far as language was concerned he was swept under the rug by the Chomski revolution. Pinker is linguist who has the language module as one of his memes which raises some questions about hi [...]

    • Bloodorange says:

      What I expect from a writing guide is either a comprehensive reference book where I can easily find answers to my questions, or - much more valued - explanations so memorable that my writing - or my students' writing - is changed forever. (Sin Boldly!: Dr. Dave's Guide To Writing The College Paper worked quite well this year; in one case, the shock of reading the Torah was so strong that a student of mine started to write clearly, because he understood that communicating ideas is the key to good [...]

    • Betsy says:

      What a wonderful book! Pinker's prose is absolutely delicious. I learmed so much from reading this - not the least of which is why my colleagues in the English Department don't value the old practice of diagramming sentences as much as I do. (But I also recognized that diagramming taught me syntax - and I'm wondering whether students now need to depend solely on reading to learn that same syntax.) Pinker is proficient at explaining why we write the way we do - and he is effective at condemnning [...]

    • Erik Hoel says:

      I loved Pinker's exposition of classic style, his highly intelligent take on grammar, his take-downs of stuffy, often made-up or nonsensical grammar rules, and his overall use of vision as a guiding metaphor for good classic-style writing.This is a must read for anyone publishing today, or anyone who hopes to publish. So why not 5 stars? There is a section in which Pinker attempts to diagnose the fundamental cause of so much bad, obfuscating writing, especially that done in academia. His diagnos [...]

    • Barry Belmont says:

      Pretentious, insightful, mediocre. This is a book by a man who likes to read and write. This is also a book by a man who wants to be known for liking to read and write. Not overly, but enough so. You get this odd mix of clever, self-indulgent, and I’m-the-teacher-teaching styles that don’t make this the best of reads. That this book begins with Pinker dissecting four pieces of writing and explaining why each of them is so great with the first being the work of his good friend Richard Dawkins [...]

    • T. Fowler says:

      This is a good book and required reading for any serious writer. I would have given it 4 stars, except there were sections that I just didn't have the energy to read and digest fully. In these pages, he delves more deeply into the rules of grammar than I was prepared to concentrate on. Bravo to the last chapter, however, where he demolishes many rules that most writers and teachers take for granted. That chapter is really worth five stars. For the other sections which I skipped, I must go back a [...]

    • UChicagoLaw says:

      Good for everyone but especially good for people who write for a living. Can we write in a way that is clear and conveys our meaning without being cumbersome? —David A. Weisbach

    • Emma Sea says:

      Started off stronger, got a little wearying a third of the way through. 2.5 stars

    • Simon Eskildsen says:

      Especially enjoyed the first few chapters: Write in a way that makes it easy for the mind's eye to engage, both for pleasure and retention. The complexity of the subject matter is no excuse. An example of appealing to the mind's eye is from the book 'Switch' where instead of referring to people's emotional side and rational side with abstract terms, they use the analogy of an elephant (emotion) and rider (rational). You should guide your reader's viewpoint to make them feel smart—not inferior [...]

    • Casey says:

      This book taught me that many students of English have learned incorrect language rules from their teachers, and their writing can be improved by unlearning them. Lucky for me, I went to a failing high school where I didn’t learn shit. This must be why my prose is so sparkly. Steven Pinker possesses a great mind and admirable writing ability. Ironically, his writing is at its worst when he tries to pin down why it works. The deeper he gets into usage-based explications of linguistically-intere [...]

    • Susan Visser says:

      This is the third books I've listened to that was written by Steven Pinker. Steven is currently my favourite non-fiction author. If only the whole world would read his books! We'd have better writers (I have so much to do to improve my own writing), we'd have more a civilized population, and we'd better understand what makes a human tick.The first two I listened to (The Better Angels of our Nature; How the Mind Works) were very appropriate for that media, but this one needs a printed copy. I enj [...]

    • Jill says:

      Steven Pinker is not only a Harvard professor and the renowned writer of numerous books and monographs on the workings of the mind, he is the chairman of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary—and that should demonstrate his chops to write a book on writing style, or at the very least about correct usage, or maybe what it means to write about “correct” usage. And this book, The Sense of Style, is such a book, and in my opinion, a very good one.The basic thesis of the book turn [...]

    • Ivan says:

      I loved this book, especially the first two thirds. The last third reads more like a reference book and it is tedious at times with an abundance of examples. (A related book I recommend is Noah Lukeman's *A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation* [W. W. Norton & Company, 2007].)That said, here are eleven of my favorite quotes:Style . . . adds beauty to the world. To a literate reader, a crisp sentence, interesting metaphor, a witty aside, and elegant turn a phrase or among lives g [...]

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