Books on language for writers, proofreaders, translators and editors
One of the reasons I work with words is that language is endlessly fascinating. From my degree in French to the podcasts I listen to and the books I read about the English language, there is always more to know.
As a writer and proofreader, I rely on some of the books listed below for my work. But as a linguist, I read the rest for fun.
The links below are for Amazon. If you would prefer to support independent bookshops, try Hive Books or Bookshop.org in the UK or Bookshop or IndieBound in the USA. For people in other countries, a quick Google should help you to find an independent alternative.
Books about proofreading
It’s an art and a science and a business
McGraw-Hill’s Proofreading Handbook by Laura Killen Anderson
The Pocket Book of Proofreading: A guide to freelance proofreading & copy-editing by William Critchley
Reliable, trustworthy references like dictionaries and style guides
These are the books that sit on your desk to refer to whenever you have a question.
Oxford English Dictionary
The Chambers Dictionary: The English dictionary of choice for writers, crossword setters and word lovers
Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts
Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases
Oxford Thesaurus of English
The Penguin Guide to Punctuation by R. L. Trask
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. White
Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation by John Seely
The Economist Style Guide by The Economist and Ann Wroe
The Times Style Guide: A Guide to English Usage by Brunskill
Guardian Style by Amelia Hodsdon and David Marsh (Guardian)
A Very Sweary Dictionary: From abso-f**king-lutely to w**kstain: an essential, if somewhat impolite, style guide by Kia Thomas
The Great Book of American Idioms: A Dictionary of American Idioms, Sayings, Expressions & Phrases by Lingo Mastery
More informal books about writing, grammar and the English language
These are the books that contain great information that’s presented in a more informal way.
Word Perfect: Etymological Entertainment For Every Day of the Year by Susie Dent
Because Internet: Understanding how language is changing by Gretchen McCulloch
Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
Have You Eaten Grandma? by Gyles Brandreth
First You Write a Sentence.: The Elements of Reading, Writing … and Life by Joe Moran
Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer
Grammar: Know Your Shit or Know You’re Shit by Joanne Adams
My Grammar and I (Or Should That Be ‘Me’?): Old-School Ways to Sharpen Your English by Caroline Taggart and J. A. Wines
Grammar for Grown-ups: Everything you need to know but never learnt in school by Craig Shrives
A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Collective Nouns by Matt Sewell
Word Nerd by Michael Powell
Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar by David Crystal
Spell It Out: The singular story of English spelling by David Crystal
Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation by David Crystal