There is nothing like curling up with a good book on a cold day, especially after digging through textbooks all semester. I was ready to read something fun, something that wasn’t boring and required by a class. So I curled up with College Writing.
Yeah, my mom thought I was crazy, too.
Being a writer drives me to do crazy things sometimes, but above all it pushes me to become a better writer. Thus, after I had spent months pounding out terrible essays (and some good ones), I decided I wanted to know how to properly write an essay. How do I formulate a research paper? What in the world is a prepositional phrase? College Writing answered all those questions and more.
The book is structured very simply. It is split into two sections: one on the usage of writing in life (papers, essays, letters, etc) and one on grammar. The first section covered the basics: how to present an argument, how to defend/support the argument, and the proper beginning-middle-end of the argument. It also revealed proper format for letters and memos, dissecting the differences between formal and casual. It was all information that I basically learned in fourth grade, including extensive notes on the Dewey Decimal System (the book, written in ’77, is only slightly out of date). However, though I knew most of the material, it was nice to have a refresher course on familiar concepts which had grown somewhat fuzzy over the years. Most of all, I appreciated the simplicity in which the information was presented. Though I am a writer (and thus inside the writing world more than most), I feel that anyone who passed grade-school English would find this section a valuable tool. Also, this is a textbook, so at the end of each lesson were practice problems to test one’s understanding, if one wishes to partake (I did not. This was fun reading, after all).
The second part of the book covered the basics of grammar: sentence structure (subject-object, verbs and nouns, and all the other stuff), fragments, paragraphs, commas, and all that jazz. This was the part of the book which I was really interested in, as many of the more complicated parts of grammar seem to have fallen out of my head. (Prepositional phrases, subordinate clauses… I am befuddled at the mere mention of them.) As I started this section, diving into the basics of sentence structure, I realized this was a lot more complicated than I remembered. I entered the book with little understanding of what a clause was and I exited with a muddled comprehension. Upon first reading I was befuddled, partially because of poor presentation and poor comprehension, but eventually (read: much sweat and toil) I figured it out. Once I passed sentence structure and moved on to fragments, commas, and paragraphs, the book was quite easy to understand. In fact, I started to enjoy it. However, this section is where the ‘college’ part of the title really pulled its weight. This was no longer fourth grade English, this was English for college students. While the first part of the book was approachable for even grade-school students, this section was tough for this college student (though, again, that may be simply because English is quite complicated and I am quite thick).
Overall, this is a very good book on writing for anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of English. It is a bit dated, being over thirty years old, but it is a valuable tool nonetheless. I definitely recommend it, as long as you don’t mind answering questions about why you are reading a textbook over Christmas break (It’s for fun, Mom! Can’t learning be fun?)
(No ill will meant, Mom. Love you.)
Published on 7 January, 2016. Last updated on