Tag Archives: Inky Fool

The Elements of Eloquence- Mark Forsyth

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

In an age unhealthily obsessed with substance, this is a book on the importance of pure style, from the bestselling author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon. From classic poetry to pop lyrics and from the King James Bible to advertising slogans, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase – such as ‘Tiger, Tiger, burning bright’, or ‘To be or not to be’ – memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and witty style he takes apart famous lines and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming for literary immortality or just an unforgettable one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything to say – you simply need to say it well.


When I heard Mark Forsyth had a new book coming out I was really excited. I had a bit of a book crush on The Etymologicon, and loved The Horologicon too. So I immediately snatched it up when Icon Books e-mailed me, and read it more or less straight away.

I was a bit unsure if I would like it as much as the previous two, because it was about using words rather than their meaning and history. It’s certainly less quotable (I did a whole separate post of snippets from The Etymologicon), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, just different.

In some ways The Elements of Eloquence is more useful. You can use what is in it to make your writing, and speaking, better, or I suppose more stylised. A lot of the elements were things I recognised as being right, but didn’t really know why, it was interesting to see a bit of why. It was also good to learn the elements that I didn’t know.

I read this whilst doing NaNoWrimo, and I do think it improved my writing a little, or at least made me more aware of how I was writing things- even if I would have written it like that without reading The Elements of Eloquence.

Mark Forsyth is great to read. Easy, but interesting and informative. Intelligent and witty. I would certainly recommend his books to anyone interested in English and words. And his blog too. He was, after all, a blogger before he became a ‘writer’. I also recommend the hardback over the kindle version, it’s a beautiful book.

I certainly advocate a return to learning rhetoric in schools, and all the students should be set this to read! n fact they should just read it anyway.


Buy it:
Hardback (£7.23)
Kindle (£4.79)

Other reviews:
Have I missed your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here.


Filed under Language, non-fiction review

The Etymologicon- Mark Forsyth

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth’s Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It’s an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.


I got a little bit addicted to the knowledge from this book while reading it, I miss tweeting the bits I found interesting. In fact I miss finding the interesting bits, hopefully following Forsyth’s Blog will help remedy that.

I really did enjoy this book. Anyone who follows my twitter feed can probably see I loved finding out about the words. (Soon was the Anglo-Saxon word for now, but humans are by nature procrastinators so the meaning changed. Did you know that?).

The writing was very conversational, which made it very easy to read and easy to understand.

I also loved how each chapter linked into the next by linking the words each chapter started and ended with. It did make it a little hard to put down however, which is not so good when you’re on a bus, or on your lunch break.

It also made me a little dead to the world, a number of times people started talking to me only for me not the notice.

Can’t wait to read Forsyth’s most recent offering, The Horologicon.


Buy it:

Kindle (£5.19)

Hardback (£7.40)


Filed under Language, non-fiction review