Anyone who reads this blog has probably long suspected that I am a geek. Here's your proof positive. My latest favorite book is Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. You know Elements of Style. It is the wonderfully brief and informative guide to writing every writer and English teacher has on her desk. In 1959, E.B. White updated a style guide written by his own Cornell professor William Strunk Jr. It has sold well ever since. My own grandmother used to give it to young people she loved as an eighth grade graduation gift. I have consulted my own copy countless times, and it has never steered me wrong.
Stylized is the back story of the creation and popularity of that popular little style manual. For people like me, to whom E.B. White is a rock star, it is sure to be a hit. Much of his correspondence about the book is included, along with a surprising number of anecdotes about it. The author, Mark Garvey, admits that it is a slightly obsessive history, but it is a highly entertaining read. I especially enjoyed Frank McCourt's thoughts on Strunk and White's little jewel of a book. I also enjoy his confession that he was terrified of semicolons and maybe colons as well.
If you are looking to stuff an English teacher's stocking this Chritmas, no doubt he or she already owns a well used copy of Elements of Style, so fill that stocking with Stylized instead. And maybe a gift card to a local bookstore too.