Grammar for a Full Life: How the Ways We Shape a Sentence Can Limit or Englarge Us
Author Lawrence Weinstein
Thank you to author Lawrence Weinstein for providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for this honest review.
Grammar for a Full Life is a hard book to classify. It was sold to me as a self-help through better use of language guide but I would say it falls more toward grammar usage analysis or philosophical theory.
The book is broken down into short chapters that address different sentence structures, punctuation, or any sort of grammatical usage that can change the meaning of what is intended. Author Weinstein uses myriad examples to attempt to bolster his arguments along the way.
The chapters themselves are often too short to be able to reach a profound conclusion and many of the thesis premises are thin to begin with. I think a more successful grammar book would have picked fewer topics and explored them in more depth. It is also unclear how many of them might relate to improving your daily life.
Some of the advice in the book might also be detrimental to modern living. The author takes a strong stance against the use of the exclamation point, for example. His reasoning seems to be outdated. As those of us who grew up watching Seinfeld and then developed a strong texting over phone call preference can attest, exclamation points are important!
There is a whole episode of Seinfeld where the character Elaine considers breaking up with her current boyfriend because he failed to use an exclamation point when taking a message for a call. He wrote, “she’s having the baby” instead of “she’s having the baby!” and Elaine considered this extremely insensitive. He should feel excited about such news!
Although this is an extreme example, I think it’s valid. Any Millenial or Gen Z individual can tell you the difference between the texted responses “ok” “ok!” and the dreaded “k”. That exclamation point can be the difference between being excited for plans and worrying all day that your friend is mad at you.
The biggest problem with Grammar for a Full Life is that it is dreadfully outdated and out of touch. My reference to a sitcom that went off the air 23 years ago is easily more modern than any of the examples in this book. Many of the references are not only decades but centuries or even milllenia old. Language has evolved an incredible amount since then. I also take issue with quoting the bible and other ancient texts for a book about English grammar. Maybe we should focus on books originally written in the English language.
The author clearly has a love of words and language and finds this topic incredibly important. However, that passion does not equal coherence. This grammar book is written with such a grandiloquent vocabulary that it is far from simple to understand. The meandering prose is counterintuitive to the subject matter and would be much better suited for poetry than nonfiction.
Grammar for a Full Life fails as a self help or reference book. It does succeed as a passion project and should be treated as such. If you are an old school scholar with a love for the intricacies of English then this book might be for you.
2/5 notepads 📒📒
For another original take on self help check out Beet Life.
Please consider using the following amazon affiliate link to purchase this book, it’s at no extra cost to you and would really help me out, thanks!