Our latest review product is the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers by Ian Johnston and Janice Campbell. This handbook is published by Everyday Education, LLC. This amazing tutorial and reference book for student writers is actually two books in one, each with a a different focus.
Part one of the Handbook for Writers is an introduction to essays and arguments. Over 200 pages are devoted to teaching the student how to structure an essay. Campbell emphasizes that the thesis of a good essay must be “arguable.” If the reader, or the population in general, already agrees with the point being discussed, then the paper will be of little interest to the reader.
She then takes the student step by step through the writing of a quality essay from the introductory paragraph through each paragraph. The techniques she teaches are much more rigorous than the writing of a typical three-point, five paragraph essay. She encourages the writer to include paragraphs that define important terms, give background information, and provide detailed examples. She also instructs the student to outline the entire essay, including topic sentences for each paragraph before beginning the actual writing process. I am certain that a student who masters these essay techniques will produce exceptional writing.
Part two includes a more than 200 page Usage and Style guide that includes hundreds of tips and guidelines for grammar and word usage. Each topic is listed in the lengthy table of contents, making it easy to locate information quickly. Topics such as spelling, punctuation, parallel structure, formatting, and APA and MLA guidelines are all covered here.
A page from Part 2: Usage and Style
Emily is in love with this book! In fact, she asked if she could write the review herself—I’m not sure that has ever happened. Because she hasn’t been home much over the past 2 weeks, she didn’t get the whole review written, but did type up some comments on her phone and sent them to me from a mission/service trip she is on this week.
Before reading Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, by Janice Campbell, I was always not the best at writing reports or essays. I always had some strangely worded sentences, or kept saying the same thing. Sometimes I would even wander off the topic . After reading this book, I went back through an essay I had written and edited it, making it so much better. The book taught me how to make the essay arguable and also something that I wanted to read myself many times. Not just something that would be interesting to someone else, but also something that struck me as interesting too.
I've never read a book about writing and gotten so much out of it that it really made a difference in my writing. I feel a lot more confident with the information and tips I have now and it makes me want to use them to see how good of a writer I really can be. Not only will this help me with normal essays and reports, but it will also be very helpful with the writing part of the ACT and college essays. I can't wait to keep reading this book to learn more tips. It has helped me a lot so far, so who knows what it will bring in future chapters!
We received the PDF edition of Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers for review, and while it is formatted well with a clickable table of contents for navigation, I think it would certainly be worth the extra money ($39 instead of $29) for the print edition. This is a book that you will want to keep on your shelf and flip through for reference and that is so much easier with a print book. (I also tend to forget about my e-books since they are not on a shelf in front of me!) Other than that one drawback, this is a fabulous book for reference as well as actually teaching the process of essay writing.