Sense of Style Review Extracts

"Charming and erudite….While The Sense of Style is very much a practical guide to clear and compelling writing, it’s also far more. Pinker dives deep into the neuroscience of language to explain why some writing is clear, some murky and some sublime. …The wit and insight and clarity he brings to that simple formula is what makes this book such a gem."—Mike Lemonick, Time

Pinker is a gifted proponent of the “classic style” of writing he is trying to teach… and [his] lucid writing is an excellent advertisement for its effectiveness...This is an absorbing book, and a helpful one.–Tom Chivers, Times Literary Supplement

Whether heard one time for its general principles, or again and again as a learning tool, this accessible, keenly observed, and, in fact, witty and entertaining discourse on how we use our language will be an unexpected pleasure for many.—AudioFile

Ignore the glut of grammar books out there, pick this one. Pinker...wields words with the force and precision of a French swordsman.—The Sunday Times

superbly and clearly written celebration of the best, least fuzzy kind of writing. It should become a standard text and makes a potentially dry subject highly entertaining.—Citation, International Award, Plain English Campaign

Not only a thoughtful and illuminating guide to the grace of the written word, but also an elegant paragon of its own advice and thus an immeasurably pleasurable read—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Charming and erudite….While The Sense of Style is very much a practical guide to clear and compelling writing, it’s also far more. Pinker dives deep into the neuroscience of language to explain why some writing is clear, some murky and some sublime. …The wit and insight and clarity he brings to that simple formula is what makes this book such a gem.—Mike Lemonick, TIME

Steven Pinker …  can transform any subject that concerns him into an urgent question. He does just that with his smart, funny, argumentative, authoritative and practical new book…. Pinker’s book will be widely read, often consulted, endlessly argued about. Reading it will improve anyone’s style—Robert Fulford, National Post.

In Pinker’s hands, we do not feel ordered around capriciously, but truly guided by an inspiring teacher.---Gareth Cook, Scientific American

It’s fascinating to learn the science that underlies the stylistic techniques good writers seem to intuit. .. The book doubles as a manual worthy of a place on a shelf just below Fowler’s Modern English Usage and Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.—Gary Stephen Ross, The Walrus

Pinker employs the straightforwardness he recommends, and all readers will come away with ways to make their writing more vivid and accessible… A thoughtful addition for writing instruction collections; the chapter on “The Curse of Knowledge” should be mandatory reading for everyone.—Henrietta Verma, Library Journal

Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century might be regarded as an update of Fowler, eschewing pedantry, convoluted or pompous sentence construction, cliché, and inflexible grammatical rules. Pinker is every bit as witty as Fowler, and writes in a similarly vigorous, direct and idiosyncratic manner. His book is accordingly much less boring than one might expect of a style manual. Indeed, it is often laugh-out-loud funny… Pinker knows that simplicity is more difficult to perfect than abstruse convolution. It helps enormously that he is such a beautiful stylist himself. Many of his sentences give great pleasure and he is never lofty or pleased with himself.— Paula Byrne, The Times

Gentle humour accompanies Mr Pinker’s good sense throughout the book, an antidote to bestselling, operatically irate usage guides that disparage those who disagree as idiots or barbarians. Mr Pinker explains eloquently not just what to do, but also why.—The Economist

An outstanding source of wise advice. —Oliver Kamm, The Times

You can write with clarity and with flair, too,” writes Steven Pinker in his useful and delightful new book, The Sense of Style. Pinker should know. His clarity and flair illuminate every page…Pinker’s style, or maybe I should say tone, is cheerful in itself: brisk without bullying, sensible without pedantry, authoritative without pomposity. You sense what a wonderful teacher he must be: brimming over with information, generous with examples, disarmingly amusing. [An] entertaining, instructive, and useful book.—Rachel Hadas, The American Scholar.

His prose is usually a model of clarity, lightly-worn erudition, and keen insight. Every writer can profit from—and every reader can enjoy—Pinker’s analysis of the ways in which skillfully chosen words can engage the mind.—Publisher’s Weekly.

One of the best books [on writing] to come along in many years… Pinker's vade mecum is a worthy addition to any writer's library.—Kirkus Reviews.

A dense, fascinating analysis of the many ways communication can be stymied by word choice, placement, stress, and the like. … his explanations run rich and deep, complemented by lists, cartoons, charts on diagramming sentences, and more. those serious about writing (and the “anal retentives” bent on correcting it) will gain a fine understanding of misunderstanding and how to avoid it.Eloise Kinney, Booklist

A thoughtful guide, tough-minded and up to date, for people who think they can write well but are willing to believe that they could write better.—Henry Hitchings, The Guardian

A canny and punchy polemic.—Stevie Davies, The Independent 

Great stuff! Only Steven Pinker could have written this marvelous book, and thank heaven he has. ‘Good writing can flip the way the world is perceived,’ he writes, and The Sense of Style will flip the way you think about good writing. Pinker’s curiosity and delight illuminate every page, and when he says style can make the world a better place, we believe him.—Patricia T. O’Conner, author of Woe Is I and, with Stewart Kellerman, Origins of the Specious

This book is a graceful and clear smackdown to the notion that English is going to the proverbial dogs. Pinker has written the Strunk & White for a new century while continuing to discourage baseless notions such as that the old slogan should have been ‘Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should. —John McWhorter, author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue and The Power of Babel