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For the last year or so I have made the effort to make every third book I read a non-fiction book, and I am so glad I did. It’s been a great way for me to keep on learning. I’ve found that non-fiction work doesn’t have to be dry and boring. In fact if you find an author who is intelligent and passionate about their subject you will find that you soon start catching their enthusiasm. Which is why I ended up reviewing a Sport Science book in the last book bag post, even though I normally have zero interest in the subject.

My latest non-fiction book tackled a subject that is closer to my heart; the beautiful tricks of the English language…

The Elements of Eloquence: How to turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth

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In an age unhealthily obsessed with substance, this is a book on the importance of pure style, from the bestselling author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon. From classic poetry to pop lyrics and from the King James Bible to advertising slogans, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase – such as ‘Tiger, Tiger, burning bright’, or ‘To be or not to be’ – memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and witty style he takes apart famous lines and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming for literary immortality or just an unforgettable one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything to say – you simply need to say it well. ‘An informative but highly entertaining journey through the figures of rhetoric … Mark Forsyth wears his considerable knowledge lightly. He also writes beautifully.’ David Marsh, Guardian

When I was in school I thought that English Literature was much more interesting than English Language. Its only now that I realise that it is the mechanics of language that give literature its beauty and power.

The Elements of Eloquence is a tour through literature and oratory and it’s grand landscape of tricks and techniques that make phrases memorable. Each chapter examines a different rhetoric device and gives plenty of recognizable examples so that you can see it in action.

I had picked this book up and put it down again in two book shops before I eventually gave in to temptation and bought it, and I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed reading this and can see myself turning to it in the future to try and improve my own writing projects. It also has a great sense of humour about it that had me chuckling away to myself. And inbetween readings, it is a beautiful book to have on my book shelf with its dark green cover and gleaming gold script! Its nice to have books that look nice!

 

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