I enjoy shopping at our local Goodwill Stores because each trip is always an adventure in shopping. Go in with an open mind and willing to take chances, and you can stumble upon some great deals and startlingly lucky finds. This book is one of those unexpected gems that I found on a recent trip to Goodwill. The King’s English : A Guide to Modern Usage by Kingsley Amis had a rather nondescript cover of black text on white with a B&W photo of some guy I didn’t recognize. The title “The King’s English” snagged my attention as I love English Literature, and then I saw the subtitle “A Guide To Modern Usage” and my editor brain cells perked up and informed my consumer brain cells that this was a must purchase. So, I tossed it in the cart. Then when I had a few moments waiting on a dressing room, I happened to read the back and my reader brain cells were asking why we couldn’t read this book right now.
A Parthian shot from one of the most important figures in post-war British fiction, The King’s English is the late Kingsley Amis’s last word on the state of the language. More frolicsome than Fowler’s Modern Usage, lighter than the Oxford English Dictionary, and brimming with the strong opinions and razor-sharp wit that made Amis so popular–and so controversial–The King’s English is a must for fans and language purists.
And this review on the cover really closed the deal for me before I ever got to read the actual text.
“There may be more comprehensive guides to English usage but there will never be a more entertaining one. Nor one more passionate.” – Daily Mail (UK)
Having read numerous style guides, proofread books in British English, and localized books and games into American English, this book continues to frustrate me, bring me to tears of laughter, make me ponder my own editorial work, and appreciate the English language and all its idiosyncrasies even more. This is not a book you sit down and read cover to cover. This is a book you pick up and read a section and then set it aside to laugh and mull over what Amis was saying about the English Language, especially Americanism of the language. Great book to have by your bedside or on an end table to absorb this humor and insights in ponder-worthy sections.
I highly recommend this book for all my fellow editors, proofreaders, and writers. The most enjoyable style guide I have ever read. And for my friends who love language and literature, this is also a worthy read for you.
What hidden gem of a book have you found at a second-hand store?