Bryson, Bill "Troublesome Words" - 1997
Somewhere I read that this book was an amalgam of reference and humour. I can't think of any other author who fits this description better than Bill Bryson. Let's just look at “Troublesome Words”. A great reference book for any questions you might have about the English language, even if it is your mother tongue.
This book is almost a dictionary that gives you so much to look at - on any questions you might have about written English. Bill Bryson is well-known as a travel book author but he is just as great with his language books. He quotes both British and American newspapers - as an American lived in Britain and married to a Brit, he is certainly an expert on the differences between those two "languages". You can also find a glossary on grammar and punctuation. But, even if you're not interested in that part, this book is worth reading in any case, it's hilarious.
From the back cover:
"Why should I avoid discussing the 'weather conditions'?
Can a woman be 'celibate'?
When can I use 'due to', or should I play safe and always use 'because of'?
What's wrong with the way I'm using 'crescendo'?
This book provides a simple guide to the more perplexing and contentious issues of standard written English. The entries are discussed with wit and common sense, and are illustrated with examples of questionable usage taken from leading British and American newspapers.
No familiarity with English grammar is needed to learn from this book, although a glossary of grammatical terms is included and there us also an appendix on punctuation.
Journalists, copy-writers and secretaries will find this an invaluable handbook, and it will also be a highly enjoyable book for the word-buff."
I love all of Bill Bryson's books. Find a link to my reviews here.