I've said it before and I'll say it again: the single most enjoyable way to improve your writing is to read good books. Take a moment waiting for the bus one day and think, "What's a classic that I know by name but have never read?" If one strikes your fancy, get it, open it to page one, and start reading.  Continue reading...
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When I was studying Spanish and had gotten to the point where our assignments consisted of reading real books, I kept a well-thumbed dictionary on my desk. Every paragraph seemed to contain several words that I had to look up, which was tedious and slow. Our wise teacher kept telling us that we didn't need to do that—you don't actually have to know what every word means to understand the text.  Continue reading...
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March is National Reading Month, and to commemorate the occasion, Time's Katy Steinmetz points to some great writing in small packages. She also checks in with our sister site, Vocabulary.com, for insights into vocabulary items in the texts she has chosen.  Continue reading...
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Words can be thought of as historical artifacts; they carry with them a stamp of time and place, and sometimes it's important to take the long view and think about words outside their immediate context and use a broader perspective.  Continue reading...
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Day after day of 90+ degree heat seems to melt our brains into neuronic mushes far too soggy for heavy reading, and we become capable only of lazing through lighter-than-air fare. A memorable New Yorker cartoon tells the story: a stern cop, looming over a sunbather reading Crime and Punishment, says, "I'm sorry, sir, but Dostoyevsky is not considered summer reading."  Continue reading...
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Despite its popularity among teens, you're not going to find class sets of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series in the English department book rooms across the country. Even if most teachers don't incorporate trendy literature into their class syllabus, it doesn't mean that they can't take advantage of the excitement of the fad and harness it to teach some valuable lessons about writing, editing, and word choice.  Continue reading...
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Yes, it's been said before, but let's say it again: writing lives on the life writers pack into their writing. Get only a little life into your poetry or prose, and your writing will soon starve, dwindle, and die. Get a lot of life into your poetry or prose, and your writing may live forever.  Continue reading...
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