There are many helpful how-to books for writers on different aspects of writing,, and our own Nancy Sanders’ newest effort is sure to be a classic in the field. I have used many books on writing over the years, depending on the information and advice I needed at a particular time. But a book that has helped me tremendously is not a how-to. It’s the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus.
When I first started writing, I relied on the classic Roget’s Thesaurus. However, the way it is set up made it somewhat difficult for me to understand and navigate. Finding what I wanted wasn’t always easy or quick. A number of years later I found The Synonym Finder, publ. by Rodale Press (in the old Fedco, of all places!) Arranged in alphabetical order, it was a big improvement. But when I discovered the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus (Oxford University Press), through a book club, I found a real gem. It soon became the only book of this type that I use.
Besides having a much wider variety of words, this volume also provides antonyms and often gives the origins of words. In addition, it tells how words are misused, how similar words are often confused, and provides lists of words that are almost the same as the one I’m looking for. I especially enjoy the tidbits about the different meanings words have acquired and how the context and meaning of words change over time.
I find all of the above not only tremendously interesting and helpful, but this book has also enriched my writing in many different ways. I turn to it often and always open it was delicious anticipation of what I’ll discover. I recommend it highly.