Where yr boy been lately? Curled up with two new word-nerd treasures, that’s where. Yes, thanks to the good people in the Points Reward department at Chase / VISA, I am today the proud owner of the latest (11th, Revised) Concise Oxford English Dictionary, in tasteful aurora-esque cover colors, in all its vocabularic immensity,
as well as the third edition of Bryan Garner’s witty, authoritative, never-at-all-pedantic Garner’s Modern American Usage.
This one was published in February of 2009; I first got wind of Garner from David Foster Wallace’s essay “Tense Present” (discussed earlier on this site). Thanks to these two books, I will probably leave my apartment even less than usual this weekend. But hey, in liber carnalis.
Seriously, though, if you write much for your job or hobby or sanity or whatever, consider getting both texts. Dictionaries like Merriam-Webster’s are fine, but the OED remains the recognized standard when it comes to all things English. Garner’s is likewise the best of its kind: it maintains a rational balance between descriptive and prescriptive approaches to grammar, is erudite without being stuffy and compact without sacrificing depth, and, most importantly, it is very funny in places. If you write, you will use these books a lot.