© 2010 Ugur Akinci
The Little, Brown Handbook by Pearson Longman (LBH) is a heavy book (literally) for a very good reason: it’s got too much in it! This trade-paperback size book has a whole library of information about writing good prose stuffed into 966 pages. It’s a must source for anyone who writes, as far as I’m concerned.
There are two aspects of this reference volume that stand out immediately when you pick it up and peruse through it:
1) Superior page design and great educational use of color and graphics.
2) Unusual emphasis on how to think, analyze, and express ideas correctly.
This book has almost every standard rule and admonition that you come across any other book of its kind, however, with a difference: the rules are illustrated with examples that graphically show where a misplaced word or phrase should be; or conceptual diagrams showing how one can shift from one voice to another, etc. I don’t know how many hours went into producing something this detailed and this well-done but I’m happy for the opportunity to own it at the price it is sold.
Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, books about grammar rules are all over the place and most of them do an adequate job in explaining techniques of strong clear writing as well.
However, there are very few books on the market today that explain how to THINK about a subject; how to arrange one’s ideas logically and then EXPRESS them as a coherent ARGUMENT. LBH devotes a good amount of real estate to that in Chapter 2, “Reading and Writing in College.” I think the contents of this chapter is for anyone who tries to write effectively, whether one is in college or not.
Here are some section titles from that chapter: Study skills and exams; Forming a critical perspective; Reading arguments critically; Writing an argument; Visual arguments.
Separate sections on “Writing in Social Sciences,” “Citing Sources in APA Style,” “Web compositions,” the proper way to use verbs and punctuation marks, etc. are among the many excellent features of LBH. If you’re a language and writing fan like me you can even take it with you to the beach or vacation for some quality time in solitude.
It’s physical weight aside, this little volume should be among the books you keep on your bookshelf, not far away from your keyboard. Definitely recommended.