“A lively, humorous debut compendium of communication “don’ts.” In this highly readable debut, Lyles, a business-communication consultant with three decades of technical writing experience, documents the many misspellings, grammatical blunders, and ill-advised expressions that bedevil business writing and speech. The very short, self-contained essays make it easy to consume the book a few pages at a time. The author offers short chapters that specifically address public speaking, advertising, and wordplay, among other areas.
Along the way, she covers a wide range of common errors, from the general (when to use “principle” or “principal,” for example) to the business-specific (how to create appropriate text for a presentation slide) to the everyday (examples of grammatically incorrect newspaper headlines). This multitude of examples is impressive enough, but the author’s keen observations are what lift the book above an ordinary collection of bloopers. Lyles has the ability to highlight the most egregious errors while also treating them with good humor, rather than snarky sarcasm. In “Telltale Signs,” for example, she refers to actual signs she’s seen and answers them with signs of her own. For example, she answers “Shirts and Shoes Must be Worn” with “But Your Pants Can Be Brand New” and “Prepare to Stop When Flashing” with “At Least Button Trench Coat.” Her take on online-dating phrases is perceptive and hilarious; for instance, she says that when a man writes that he enjoys “Long walks on the beach…quiet evenings by the fire…candlelight dinners at home,” he really means “I’m cheap and I’ll never take you anywhere. And I expect you to cook.” Lyles is also sensitive to inflated speech patterns; she warns readers of potentially deceptive qualifiers, such as “To be perfectly honest” and “If you want to know the truth,” among others. This is an amusing, on-target collection, crafted in a way that makes it easy to laugh at one’s own shortcomings.”
A clever, engaging, and delightful look at how people can be lax with the written and spoken word.
— Kirkus Reviews
This five-star rating and review appeared November 1 on their website.
The review for From the Errors of Others appeared on our website as seen below. The book received 5 stars.
Effective communication is a skill that everyone wants but can be hard to develop. In a collection of short, humorous essays, Rebecca M. Lyles carefully articulates the do’s and don’ts of effective communication in her work From the Errors of Others. As an experienced editor, Lyles brings years of experience into the work, including witty anecdotes to liven the reading. Especially in professional settings where a misspoken word or incorrectly placed comma may produce ill effects, learning to convey what you mean to say correctly carries much import. Focusing on the specifics of language and tone in both spoken word and written forms of communication, from emails to twitter posts, Lyles brings the focus back to basic communication without all the pretentiousness that autocorrect and suggested synonyms bring.
Besides the clear lessons taught in this collection, Lyles also possesses a strong sense of awareness for the reader. While From the Errors of Others contains dozens of lessons, a reader can easily read the entire work in one sitting. Lyles possesses the capacity to thoroughly entertain her intended audience while educating them about the topic at hand. Her frank voice and humor lend themselves towards helping the reader’s general interest in a topic generally considered dense and dry in nature. Short, succinct chapters provide direct and clear meanings, some in the forms of anecdotes with critical morals and lessons that would benefit those who don’t possess the power of eloquent but straightforward communication. Readers seeking to create more effective communication in professional settings, as well as in everyday conversation, should take lessons from Lyles’ work to heart; the colloquial manner in which Lyles executes the lessons provides context for the utilization of techniques. Regardless of how well one communicates, From the Errors of Others should be a work read by everyone who wants to learn effective communication.
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The Writing/Publishing Shelf
From the Errors of Others
Rebecca M. Lyles
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480828476, $42.95, HC, 394pp, www.amazon.com
“From the Errors of Others: How to Avoid Embarrassing Mistakes in Writing and Speaking” is an informative collection of crisp, witty, and slyly informative essays for grownups with a sense of humor by technical writer and editor Rebecca M. Lyles. The focus is on communication including the good, the bad, and the patently bizarre. “From the Errors of Others” is as entertaining a read as it is informed and informative as aspiring writers and speakers learn how to: keep a professional tone; avoid awkward writing and speech habits; communicate clearly without being pretentious; detect deception; and use a writing comfort zone.
Impressively well written, organized and presented, “From the Errors of Others: How to Avoid Embarrassing Mistakes in Writing and Speaking” is an extraordinary compendium of insight, experience, advice, and thoroughly ‘reader friendly’ commentary. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Writing & Speaking instructional and reference collections, it should be noted for students, aspiring writers, novice speakers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that “From the Errors of Others” is also available in a paperback edition (9781480828469, $23.99) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).
If composition class made you squirm and grammar lessons caused an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, relax, readers! Lyles shares a friendly, chatty guide to written and spoken communication. Drawing on her 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, and manager for technology companies, her guide covers grammar but also includes practical advice, such as how to create an effective online profile, and taking simple steps to ensure you’re saying what you mean to. To keep things light, Lyles provides plenty of entertaining bloopers. Her material cuts a wide swath: PowerPoint slides, credit card statements, even customer-service rep scripts. Writing, language, tone: as one chapter title states, it’s “All in the Delivery.” As the author reminds us, mistakes can “make you look stupid,” language can be used “as an important litmus test,” and pronunciation matters. Organized into 11 sections, the book is made up of concise, two- and three-page essays with titles such as “Borrowing from Other Languages” and “Me, Myself, and I.” Readers of all ages and grammar levels will find this an easy and entertaining reference, and a valuable reminder that spellcheck and autocorrect aren’t always your best friend. (BookLife)
“From the Errors of Others is a collection of crisp, witty, and slyly informative essays for grownups with a sense of humor. The subject is communication—good, bad, and patently bizarre. The author is Rebecca Lyles, an experienced editor but not a wrist-slapping schoolmarm. Neither giggly nor ponderous, she eagerly tells tales out of school. There are boneheads and blowhards in our midst, she says, but we don’t have to take them seriously. And we certainly don’t have to imitate them.
From the Errors of Others is a refreshing alternative to those heavy handbooks we never opened in school. It’s not only far more entertaining than those dreary tomes, in the end, perhaps surprisingly, it’s also much more enlightening. Imagine that: a smart book about writing and speaking effectively that people will actually enjoy reading.”