5 great books for the writers in your life

In addition to any of the items on PR Daily’s 20 holiday gifts for writers, what else would the writer in your life really enjoy this holiday season?

How about books that can help make his or her job easier?

Here are five titles that any writer will enjoy:

1. “Lifetime Encyclopedia of Letters,” by Harold E. Meyer

This book contains sample letters for “virtually every business and personal letter you’ll ever have to write.” And the author means every letter.

Meyer has letters for telling someone a meeting is unnecessary, firing a babysitter, answering complaints about out-of-control meetings, and complaining about a barking dog. There are samples letters offering congratulations, apologies, and condolences.

I refer to this book when I have to write one of those awkward emails and have no idea where to start.

2. “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation,” by Lynne Truss

If you only read one book on punctuation, it should be this one. As Frank McCourt said in the foreword:

“The book is so spirited, so scholarly, those English teachers will sweep all other topics aside to get to, you guessed it, punctuation. Parents and children will gather by the fire many an evening to read passages on the history of the semicolon and the terrible things done to the apostrophe. Once the poor stepchild of grammar (is that comma OK here?), punctuation will emerge as the Cinderella of the English language.”

That’s quite an endorsement.

3. “The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Language,” by Theodore M. Bernstein

In “The Careful Writer,” Bernstein assembled 2,000 entries on usage, meaning, grammar, punctuation, precision, and logical structure. The entries are clear, comprehensive, and funny. If you want to know when to use fewer and when to use less or the difference between adopt and adapt, this book has the answers.

4. “The Synonym Finder,” by J.I. Rodale

My favorite book on the list, “The Synonym Finder,” is a thesaurus on steroids. With more than a million synonyms, it is the most complete thesaurus I have ever used in print or online. Entries include slang and informal synonyms, along with archaic, scientific, and other specialized terms. This book is a great addition to the writer’s toolbox.

5. “On Writing,” by Stephen King

This book is on the top of my wish list this year. I don’t own it, but I’ve heard many writers talk about and read excerpts from King’s opus. My favorite quotes include:

• “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
• “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
• “The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.”

I can’t wait to dive into this one.

PR Daily readers, any books to add to this list?

This article was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.

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