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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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                      Catherine Winter

                      Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                      Last Updated on July 23, 2019

                      3 Keys to Success in Life (That Will Change You in 2019)

                      3 Keys to Success in Life (That Will Change You in 2019)

                      Do you want to program your mind and hack your body to stay in a positive state, a state of action taking throughout the day? I suggest you read on.

                      We will look at 3 keys to success that successful people are doing that you can model to program your mind to be in the state of succeeding from the moment upon waking, and make decisions throughout the day that will lead you towards your desires.

                      The Biggest Obstacle to Success: Going on Autopilot

                      One of the biggest pitfalls in the modern society is to fall into the trap of going on autopilot, to be walking dead and do what everyone else are doing. Most of us are too busy reacting and responding to the environment and what’s happening around us.

                      While we should act and take charge of our own world and our own reality. We forget to stay focused and we forget about our goals.

                      Learn to be conscious. Being more conscious in your day-to-day decisions will lead you to take the appropriate actions to reach your goals.

                      Have a purpose with life, act according to your values, and don’t let people tell you what to do or how things should be.

                      When you start to make more conscious decisions, you will start to think about if this is going to take you closer to your goals or drift you further away.

                      Why are you doing what you’re doing right now? Why are you reading this? Nothing else to do? Or are you reading this site so you might pick up a thing or two to consciously incorporate in your life to improve yourself that will move you in the direction you want?

                      What are your goals? Be healthy? Lose weight? Be fit? Get the dream job? Have the dream house? Live the dream life? Make a certain amount of money? Start a family?

                      If you truly want to pursue these goals and actually see them come true, you need to start taking actions consciously.

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                      3 Keys to Success in Life (That You Can Start Doing Now)

                      There are 3 things we have to consciously start doing:

                        Now I’ll show you how you can achieve each of them in details.

                        1. Write down Your Goals

                        The first thing you do in the morning will determine what your day is going to be like. Program your mind to be in a powerful state from the moment upon waking, and you are guaranteed to have a productive and great day.

                        How you can do this is by writing your goals down, every morning. Then, once you’ve done that, circle the most important goal,  the goal that in the long-term will have the most impact on your life.

                        Now ask yourself this question: “What actions can I make today that will change everything and take me closer to this goal?

                        Write down all the actions you can think of, circle the two most important ones and start doing them. Don’t stop until it’s done.

                        This is an extremely powerful method of getting in the right state first thing in the morning. Instead of wandering around half-dead and spending 30 minutes to wake up, you are hacking your mind to be productive.

                        Another powerful reason for writing down your goals is that by reading them it makes us feel good, write them as if they’re already accomplished. You’re already there.

                        Re-reading and re-writing them every morning will ensure you to be in a resourceful state where you act based on your goals. You will make conscious decisions throughout the day that will support your goals and take you closer to them.

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                        Goals that are not written down are merely wishes. Learn how to set great goals here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

                        The power of writing goals as if you’re already there takes us to point number 2.

                        2. Create a Powerful Belief System

                        Ask any successful person what their number one rule for succeeding is. They all have this in common:

                        They believe in themselves and what they’re doing, and they are not afraid to say it.

                        If you don’t believe in yourself, why would anyone else?

                        When people ask you about your goals in life, don’t be afraid to say it out loud. If you have high goals, they might laugh and look at you funny. But if you’re insecure about your goals, you will make insecure decisions that will lead you nowhere.

                        Go against the grain, stand out. After all, how many people in the world today are actually living the dream? Now, how many of these people will respond something in the likes of “I don’t know” if you ask what their goals are?

                        Be determined and believe in yourself. People will respect you for having the guts for going after what you truly desire.

                        I once heard a story about a guy that worked in a video store. Every day he would bring two magazines to work, one was an entrepreneur magazine and the other was a magazine loaded with expensive and fast-riding cars. His boss would ask him why he was bringing these magazines to work every day and his answer was: “I’m picking out the car I’m going to buy.”

                        The response from the boss was like most average minds saying he was killing himself thinking like that, he would never ever get that car and would just end up disappointed when it never happened.

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                        Turned out, the guy later quit the job at the video store and followed his dream. Some years later he return to the video store to return a video, and he did so in the car he picked out from the magazine.

                        The same people were working in the store as the day he used to work there. Now can you imagine the looks on their faces when he turned up in the car they said he never ever would get?

                        Priceless. And it all started by creating a powerful belief system.

                        The first step to living and achieving your dream is to believe it and imagine it. When you believe in your mind that you’ve already achieved your goals, you will develop a sense of certainty. That certainty will lead to action steps, when you know what the outcome is going to be it’s much easier to pick out the actions that are necessary to get there.

                        You are certain you will live in the body you want.

                        You are certain you will live in the dream house with the dream family.

                        You are certain you will have the job you want, and earn the money you believe you’re worth.

                        By constantly repeating in your mind the images of yourself succeeding, you create neural pathways in the brain. Your mind can’t tell the difference between what you vividly imagine and the reality.

                        Go out and day dream. Go out and believe, imagine already living your dreams and goals. With enough repetition, you become certain that this is the only outcome and you work backwards to find ways for making it happen.

                        The next step in personal success that will lead to life success and happiness is to..

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                        3. Invest in Yourself

                        A wise man was once asked what the best possible investment someone could make. His answer was short, sweet and simple: “Invest In Yourself.”

                        The man’s name is Warren Buffett. He is known as the world’s greatest investor. According to Forbes, he has a net worth of $53.5 Billion.

                        Hiring a personal coach, getting a membership at a gym, buying healthy foods, books and education are not expenses. They are investments: investments in yourself.

                        Some things you can do today to invest in yourself are:

                        • Go to the gym and train. Physical training releases endorphins and makes you feel great. It increases productivity and energy levels. By investing time in the gym, you’ll be better able to handle daily tasks and what life throws at you. Forty-five to fifty minutes is all you need, it’s actually the best time to shoot for in a workout.
                        • Eat good food. When you go to the grocery store after work, ask yourself: “What foods will nourish my mind and body to feel and perform better?” You are setting yourself up for greatness and consciously making yourself aware of what foods will empower you, therefore make better decisions.
                        • Start reading books. Everyone buys books, but very few actually reads them cover to cover.
                        • Stop reading books and start studying them. Few read the books they buy, but even fewer remembers what they read. Stop reading books and start studying books.
                        • Study at least one hour a day. “One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.” – Brian Tracy
                        • Take notes. Never leave home without a pen and a piece of paper. The best ideas often comes in the least appropriate times, write them down. Don’t trust your mind to remember them—it won’t. Writing it down right away will also allow your mind to store and come up with more ideas. Nowadays, you can use plenty of notes-taking apps like Evernote.
                        • Learn a new skill. Learn something new every day, a new skill or a new word. One new skill every day equals 365 new skills a year. Now imagine where you could be a year from now if you start doing it today?
                        • Do something for yourself. Yes, hard work is a major factor for succeeding, but at least once per month do something fun, something outrageous and spontaneous that makes you feel alive. Have fun and enjoy yourself.

                        The Crucial Rule to Follow

                        The last piece of advice and rule to follow: Keep on, keeping on.

                        Sometimes, things get hard and the road seems too long. You just have to keep on, keeping on.

                        Revisit your goals and start imagining, all of the sudden you’ve changed your state and you’re on the right track again. The track that will take you to greatness.

                        Use these 3 keys to create your destiny and achieve what you want in life.

                        Go get it.

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                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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