Skip to Main Content

Summer Reading 2019: The Illustrated Elements of Style

Here's why Kristjiana suggests The Illustrated Elements of Style...

William Strunk Jr. wrote Elements of Style in 1918, yet it continues to govern American rhetoric, from the classroom to the newsroom. Let's explore the most recent edition of these age-old rules together (with illustrations!) and ponder whether or not we think it is  “that mangiest of stuffed owls," or "a splendid trophy for all who are interested in reading and writing."

About the book

The Elements of Style Illustrated
by William Strunk (Author), E. B. White (Author), Maira Kalman (Illustrator)

​Strunk and White's legendary "Elements of Style" was first published in 1959, and in the intervening decades, this little book on language and its proper usage has been force-fed to countless high school English students, who have read it zealously, dog-eared key pages, showered it in graphite love or else completely disregarded and forgotten it, usually at their own risk.

In this edition, Maira Kalman's whimsical paintings are sprinkled through the text, often responding to the wry or quirky examples the authors chose to enliven what might otherwise have been a dry discussion of grammatical rules. On the topic of pronoun cases, they offer: "Polly loves cake more than she loves me." On the uses of the dash: "His first thought on getting out of bed -- if he had any thought at all -- was to get back in again." Ms. Kalman had no shortage of material. -New York Times

A gift from the illustrator

About the reader

  Kristjiana Gong, History

This is Kristjiana's first summer read recommendation!