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10 Books to Help You Polish Your English & Writing Skills

10 Books to Help You Polish Your English & Writing Skills

Whether you’re learning English as an additional language or you’re aiming to hone your writing skills, there are countless books out there that promise to help you ameliorate your skills. Some of those books are fabulous, while others are practically useless. Let’s take a look at some of the best books to help you improve your English, whether you’re an ESL student or an aspiring novelist.

Beginner’s English (suitable for ESL students)

Words-are-categorical

    Words are Categorical series, by Brian P. Cleary

    I absolutely love these books for children and ESL adults alike, as they clarify parts of speech in a way that’s hilarious and endearing. With titles such as Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? and Thumbtacks, Earwax, Lipstick, Dipstick: What Is a Compound Word?, you know you’re in for a fun time. Although the link above will take you to a boxed set, the books are also available individually.

    Mac-English-covers-1-young-640x406

      MacMillan English School Books

      These are essential for anyone who’s learning English as a second language (ESL). English is an extremely complicated language, and unless you’ve grown up speaking, reading, and writing it, there are subtle nuances that take a long time to pick up. These books cover a wide range of skill levels, and can help you polish up both your writing and conversational skills.

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      General/Intermediate English (high school/early college level)

      eats-shoots-and-leaves-front

        Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss

        This book is a brilliant reference for writers of all ages, but I tend to recommend it to high school and college students because it’s funny, clever, and explains punctuation in a memorable way. Remember that good punctuation is vital, as it’s the key to either knowing your shit, or knowing you’re shit.

        big-book-of-words

          The Big Book of Words You Should Know, by David Olsen, Michelle Bevilacqua, and Justin Cord Hayes

          If you’d like to expand your vocabulary, this is the book for you. By learning words like “halcyon” and “sagagious” (which you may come across in books or wish to add into your own writing) as well as “schlimazel” and “thaumaturgy” (ask your English teacher to define those on the spot!), your fluency with this magnificent language will explode in the most brilliant way imaginable.

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          mother-tongue

            The Mother Tongue – English, and How It Got That Way, by Bill Bryson

            Everything this author writes is pure genius, and The Mother Tongue is no exception. Bryson weaves a fascinating tale about the origins of the English language, and peppers it with solid insight about the utter weirdness that abounds in the language.

            gardner_art_of_fiction1

              The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, by John Gardner

              A vital resource for anyone who intends to write fiction, this book will help you craft a refined sentence, develop characters that readers don’t want to disembowel, and avoid trite cliches. Gardner’s a tough teacher, but if you can put your own delicate ego aside, you can learn a lot from this book.

              elements-of-style

                The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

                This is probably one of the best go-to books for composition and style. If you only want a few reference books in your library that deal with English grammar and writing, let this be one of them.

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                Gregg Reference Manual

                  The Gregg Reference Manual, by William Sabin

                  Probably the most comprehensive guide for style, grammar, usage, and formatting, it’s as beneficial to students as it is for those in business. It really does contain everything you need to know about composing documents, essays, and letters, with tips on how to address various people (senators, bishops, military personnel), and much more.

                  Advanced English (college grads, professional writers)

                  misplaced-modifier

                    The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier, by Bonnie Trenga

                    Even those who have a fair bit of writing experience can mess up when it comes to modifiers, and this fun little volume prods your brain-meat to remind you of proper word placement when constructing sentences.

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                    Chicago Style

                      The Chicago Manual of Style

                      This book is probably the most invaluable reference for anyone who writes for a North American audience. Whether you’re addressing a letter to a foreign dignitary, citing a study when creating an academic paper, or proofreading another person’s work, this book will guide you through all the writing rules you could ever need.

                      As a side recommendation, I find the Oxford Style Manual to be of great help when working for clients in the UK, as there are certain differences in writing standards on either side of the pond, and having a strong grasp of both can only be of benefit to any writer.

                      There are many other resources that may be of benefit to writers of all skill levels, but the books on this list are some of the best and most well-rounded. They’ll provide a great foundation to one’s writing practice, and although doing so may seem counterintuitive, writers may be surprised at what can be gleaned by revisiting some of the basics, or delving into manuals that may seem more advanced than what they’re accustomed to.

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                      Last Updated on January 18, 2019

                      7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

                      7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

                      Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

                      But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

                      If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

                      1. Limit the time you spend with them.

                      First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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                      In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

                      Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

                      2. Speak up for yourself.

                      Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

                      3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

                      This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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                      But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

                      4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

                      Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

                      This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

                      Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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                      5. Change the subject.

                      When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

                      Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

                      6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

                      Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

                      I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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                      You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

                      Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

                      7. Leave them behind.

                      Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

                      If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

                      That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

                      You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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