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Book Review: It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences.

Published: March 3, 2021
Last Updated: March 8, 2021

Well, here I am, surely, about to violate June Casagrande’s recommendations for writing from her book, ‘It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences.’ I hope not too badly anyway.

June’s book is a short work on writing better sentences. It was especially useful for me, because I am not great at grammar per se. Which is scary now, because in the past year or so I’ve been blogging and now write a tongue-in-cheek fictional newsletter. You would think this sorry blogger would be better by now.

This book helps with grammar, but it’s more about the craft of composing sentences that readers won’t hate you for writing. The simple things are mentioned, like don’t use too many adverbs, or adverbials. And, best of all, June explains why these “rules” exist, and also how in the hand’s of a skilled artisanal writer they may be broken.

June writes in a conversational style, and most of what she discusses avoids too many technicalities. While she does go into things like adverbials, and relative clauses, it’s more from a holistic perspective – how can they help or hurt a sentence. And you don’t really need to know the “technical” rules for them.

I still say that I learned more about English grammar when I took Spanish in High School than from English class. It’s not until I started blogging and getting a kick out of it that I started to appreciate writing as a craft. After reading this I need to appreciate it even more. That’s clear.

June is a copy-editor, and this book is a fantastic guide for writer’s to learn what works and doesn’t work from this perspective.

She constantly drives home that you write for the reader. If the sentence serves the writer more than the reader it’s a bad sentence.

I know from my own writing that I can easily write a terrible sentence and think it sounds wonderful. This book has enough simple things to check for vis-a-vis sentence writing to kill most of these monsters. Provided I take the time to do the work.

I’d definitely recommend this book. June’s writing style is easy and you don’t need to know a lot of grammar going into it. If you want a straight forward guide to composing great sentences, this seems like a great book to start with.

© Copyright 2021, Tyler Rhodes