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Review Brooks Landon Building Great Sentences

Brooks Landon’s book “Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read” is a spectacle of writing style, a pleasure for your eyes. Brooks makes sure to use his own advice, crafting a great composition of short and long sentences, which despite their length are always easy to understand, using his proposed constructs in myriads of ways, e.g. parallelisms, suspenseful sentences, and by that illustrating the power of his proposed craftsmanship. Not only is his own writing a pleasure in this regard, he also gives plenty of examples from other famous authors, comparing and positioning different perspectives on the nature and structure of sentences. He equips the reader with exercises after most sections, for them to get a grasp on the concepts. In the end, he suggests further reading to back his claims with empirical evidence and, for the interested reader, he presents a brief summary on schools of writing and style.

Following up on that, Brooks critiques the prevalence—or what he quotes as the “imperative of the imperatives”—of only writing short, concise and clear texts, rather he emphasises that selected rules can and should be bent, for the writer’s style is intrinsically linked to the personality of the authors and his or her content.

Bothersome about the book is that the author proceeds in miniscule steps, rendering the text repetitive after the first half. He goes into pedantic detail for explaining marginal differences in sentence structure. Some constructs are conflated and could have been summarised more briefly.

In summary this is a great book providing perspectives and ideas contrary to the prevalent dogma of precise and concise text. It is very well written, all the way down to the single word. However, the length of the book could be reduced by 50-80 pages due to the overly detailed descriptions in the middle. In summary, I can still recommend this book, if you just skim over the repetitive parts. Focus on the first and last part.