It is surprising how many of my classmates felt similarly about these two very different guides to style. Most of us discussed very different aspects of the books, but reached the same conclusion that the book by Williams had a bigger impact.
Specifically, I like what Ana had to say on her blog about comparing S&W to Williams. In her blog, she said that the style guide by Williams “may be better suited for truly understanding concepts of style while S&W are a better go to guide for quick questions about punctuation or word order”. That is an excellent point! The biggest strengths to Strunk and White’s guide are the clear and concise explanations of punctuation and other areas of language often misunderstood or misused. However, are they impacting my writing the way Williams is? No. Of course, I love the handy guide they wrote and how useful it is for looking up certain rules of grammar and punctuation; but, like Ana said, Williams helps me to understand the bigger concepts behind style. Ultimately, for me, that makes the guide by Williams more useful.
My classmate Tony, however, felt a little differently about the usefulness of the books. He said, “Overall, I don’t think one is more valuable than the other. I think they both offer great information…” I agree with him that they both offer great information, but I do feel one is more useful for me than the other. Of course, Tony says later, “But if I had to pick one, I’d probably pick Williams because it discusses more about writing, and, I thought, was more timely”. Although he felt a little differently, there is still a stronger sense of agreement than disagreement. But, his thoughts did lead to some interesting realizations for me. For example, I realized that I see myself picking up the S&W book more frequently in the future, even though the book by Williams left a much bigger impression. This is rather ironic to me. Perhaps even more ironic is the realization that I would be more likely to have a copy of Strunk and White’s book in my future classroom. (Of course, that is largely because I feel it is more age and grade level appropriate). Normally, when I find a book I like that leaves a big impression like the book by Williams, I tell people and share it with them. But, I don’t see myself doing that this time around and it seems odd. Perhaps I agree with Tony’s original assessment more than I realized! If I’m more likely to share the S&W book, then I must recognize how useful it will be for others. I must value it more than I indicate in my original comparison of the books. I must say, I find this rather surprising.
Also, I wondered how different the blog posts may have been if we had read the books in reverse order. Would we have reached the same conclusions about them? I think there’s a strong chance that if we had read the book by Williams first, we would have ended up praising the Strunk and White book over it. I could be wrong, of course, but it was an interesting thought for me.