Gift books for word lovers

For certain nerdy types (you know the ones), language books make great gifts. Unlike mysteries and memoirs that are quickly devoured in e-book form — then forgotten — informative, fun grammar and writing guides double as reference books. You can wrap one up and put it under the tree knowing your recipient will reach for it again and again for years to come.

Here’s my 2023 language book gift guide for every type of word nerd.

For the rule follower: Most people, even grammar savvy types, don’t know about usage guides. These reference books look like dictionaries, with alphabetized entries for words and language concepts. But instead of listing definitions, they offer expert insights on usage matters. Look under E to find a discussion of when “everyone” takes a singular or plural verb. Look under D to learn that a “double genitive” like “a friend of Joe’s” is not an error even though it doubles up on the possessives. Look under C to learn about “compose” and “comprise.” Two great usage guides for the grammar buff on your list: Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage and Garner’s Modern English Usage.

For the Grammar Girl fan: The most beloved grammar podcaster of all time, Mignon Fogarty has a new book out just in time for Secret Santas. In The Grammar Daily: 365 Quick Tips for Successful Writing from Grammar Girl, Fogarty delivers one easy, practical writing tip per day, every day for a year. On Day One, you’ll learn that the possessive of McDonald’s is McDonald’s. A few weeks later, you’ll learn that even though “anxious” usually carries a negative connotation, you can use it to mean “eager.”

Read about my other picks — Dreyer's English, Rebel With a Clause, the Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier and Nine Nasty Wordshere in my recent column.

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