My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Full disclosure: this is the only Douglas Wilson book I’ve read. I imagine some of you may have strong opinions about him one way or the other. This review is neither a recommendation nor a discouragement of his other books, what he believes, what he writes, etc.
I say this is one of the better books about writing that I’ve read. It’s up there with On Writing Well by William Zinsser. If Zinsser’s book is a Big Mac, then Wilson’s book is a double cheeseburger, light on the pages.
Wordsmithy is organized into seven sections, and it was concise and helpful. Wilson gives practical tips in a somewhat funny tone, recommending different books at the end of each section.
Here are the seven sections as listed in the introduction:
1. Know something about the world
3. Read mechanical helps
4. Stretch before your routines
5. Be at peace with being lousy for a while
6. Learn other languages
7. Keep a commonplace book
And I like how he didn’t go on about himself, like Rhodes did in How To Write, or how King did in On Writing. But he did use a large handful of words that I had never heard of, and a larger handful of words that I had to look up in the dictionary to remind myself. My point is that he liked to show off his knowledge of language. If that bothers you, now you know before you start.
Whatever the case, this one is a keeper for me. And I keep only books that I’ll read multiple times or use for reference. Why would I keep a book that I don’t really, really like?