The Sense of Style

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

Pretentious, insightful, mediocre. This is a book by a man who likes to read and write. This is also a book by a man who wants to be known for liking to read and write. Not overly, but enough so. You get this odd mix of clever, self-indulgent, and I’m-the-teacher-teaching styles that don’t make this the best of reads.

That this book begins with Pinker dissecting four pieces of writing and explaining why each of them is so great with the first being the work of his good friend Richard Dawkins and the second of his wife should give you some sense of what sort of book this will be. That the author should also explanibrag throughout the whole piece is self-evident from the first page.

It’s no Strunk and White and it certainly does not rise to the task of replacing that slim volume for the 21st century. It’s good, but it’s not that good.