Perspectives on legal research and writing
Banished words

My New Year's resolutions

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions before. Now is a good time to start, because there are some good books that I want to read—or finish reading. So for 2009, I resolve to do the following:

  • Finish Thinking Like a Writer, by Stephen V. Armstrong and Timothy P. Terrell. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a couple of years now, but didn’t start reading it until a few weeks ago, shortly after hearing Prof. Terrell speak at a seminar. The title suggests the basic message: to write more effectively, lawyers should think less like lawyers and more like writers. The book is big and thick, which makes it a bit intimidating. In fact, the authors promise that “requires more effort than most books about legal writing.” But from what I’ve covered so far (112 out of 415 pages), the effort will be worthwhile. For a taste, click here.
  • Finish Alphabet Juice, by one of my favorite authors, Roy Blount, Jr. One of my Christmas presents this year was a copy of this book, autographed by the author. The subtitle suggests what this book is about: “The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof: Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory.” The entry about Wilt Chamberlain (which I skipped ahead to read) is worth the book’s price. (Blount also wrote Feet on the Street, a must-read for anyone who wants to know what New Orleans is all about.)
  • Read Bryan Garner’s latest, Garner on Language and Writing. This book is a collection of essays on writing, language, and style. I just ordered mine a minute ago. It’s 876 pages, so it may take me the better part of 2009 to finish.