Summer Reading #3

Review #3: Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Published 2003 ~ ISBN # 1-592-40087-6 ~ 204 pages ~ Challenge book #2

I don’t know how many times I have picked this book up in bookstores and libraries, contemplating its title and purpose before returning it to its shelf. Did I think a book on punctuation would be dull? Was I afraid of an effusion of bad puns? No, neither. I have considered copyediting as sheer-fun career, and puns (no matter how painful) set me to giggling. The truth is, I was worried that the author would not live up to my high standards for language usage.

It is somewhat embarrassing to admit that, but only because I have been conditioned to believe that grammar is not cool.

I shouldn’t have feared. Lynne Truss is a woman after my own heart. Not only does she lay out very clear and specific rules for punctuation, she also periodically indulges in just the type of rants I do. (Rants on topics such as: Two Weeks Notice. Remember this movie? Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, etc. Yeah, okay, the movie itself doesn’t matter. It’s the title! Two Weeks Notice, when it should be Two Weeks’ Notice. Ugh.)

This sweet little book also contains miscellany beyond my expectations: the history of several punctuation marks, the changing use and purpose of punctuation, and dozens of rhapsodic quotes about punctuation (some from well-known authors!). It was engaging and amusing, and I enjoyed it thoroughly–except when forced to scan through anecdotes in order to find the punctuation rules!

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2 Responses to “Summer Reading #3”

  1. Dixie Says:

    Ok, so I actually laughed out loud at your blog this time. I, myself, have also contemplated this book and thought it might be boring or time consuming. Anyway, through adventures on the web and a recent copy-editing job for a friend, I have come to the conclusion that all children should be required to read this in 7th grade. It is insane that grown people don’t know when to use a comma (my husband included.) I ended up reorganizing whole sections of my friend’s book because it drove me crazy! My husband suggested I might be good at copy-editing for a job. However, I think I would slowly lose my mind. Now, I am looking over this comment and wondering where you’re going to find my mistakes! ; P

  2. fractone Says:

    Don’t worry; I try not to copy-edit unless asked to. Unless, of course, it’s in an unsolicited business letter. =)

    I had a fantastic English teacher in 7th grade, which is why I cannot understand how so few adults seem capable of using grammar and punctuation correctly. Granted, I also have a nearly photographic memory for this type of stuff. That probably helps.

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