The Millions

The Importance of Giving a Shit: On ‘Dreyer’s English’

As this review goes to press, Benjamin Dreyer’s Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, sits at #1 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list (Words, Language, & Grammar Reference). Shortly after the book’s release, he tweeted its march up the overall sales ranks, as it broke the top hundred, the top ten, and made it all the way to number two. Already in its fourth pressing, it is also currently at number two on this week’s New York Times Best Sellers list (Advice, How-to, and Miscellaneous). Think about that: a book by a copyeditor about the niceties of style elbowing up to the table with the likes of Marie Kondo and Michelle Obama. As Dreyer himself said in another endearingly flabbergasted tweet, “It’s a freakin’ style guide, for Pete’s sake.”

In one sense, I share his amazement. It would be difficult to think of a current subject that feels, superficially, less likely to top a list of best sellers (or best-sellers or bestsellers—Dreyer devotes an interesting page to the accelerated life-cycle and evolution of open, hyphenate, and closed words). We live, after all, in a paradoxically hyper-literate yet hyper-illiterate age—never before in human history have more people written more, and never before has less care gone into the production’s famous apology: “I only made this letter longer because I had not the leisure to make it shorter.”

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Millions

The Millions4 min read
Reading Roberto Bolaño’s Final Wake-Up Call
If you’re trying to decide whether or not to read Bolaño’s 900-page opus, I can only say this: it must be read, but no shame to any person who cannot. The post Reading Roberto Bolaño’s Final Wake-Up Call appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions6 min read
Martha Cooper: A Reluctant Icon
She never considered herself an artist. She was always more interested in documenting and preserving subcultures that were destined to blaze and then vanish. The post Martha Cooper: A Reluctant Icon appeared first on The Millions.
The Millions5 min read
This New Translation of a Russian Epic Restores What Censors Stole
Writing that was judged insufficiently socialist realist would remain unpublished, and its author might be sent to a labor camp or killed. The post This New Translation of a Russian Epic Restores What Censors Stole appeared first on The Millions.