Book Review: Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors

Written by Jessie Laven; copy edited by Rebecca A. Coates

Review of “Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors ” by Bill Bryson (Doubleday Canada, 2008; Anchor Canada, 2009).

Image of the cover for Bill Bryson's book "Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors," which features one tall green book and a shorter blue book.

Bill Bryson is well known for his books on travel, science, history, and the English language. And this particular book of his, Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors, is an eclectic mix, reflecting the varied experiences of Bryson’s long and distinguished writing career. It’s different from his usual writings, and perhaps more dry, but no less valuable or insightful.

Before turning to writing, Bryson worked as an editor for several newspapers, including the Independent and the Times.  During this time, his manuscript began as a collection of notes that were assembled piece by piece over the years as he encountered questions or uncertainties. The resulting book is a useful guide for new writers and editors, answering questions they likely wouldn’t think to ask. It is driven by a desire to enlighten the reader and help them avoid common pitfalls.

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