A clever, engaging, and delightful look at how people can be lax with the written and spoken word.

From the Errors of Others


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. 

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4808-2847-6

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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