Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss
★★★★

My Achilles heel as a writer has always been commas. I hate them! At the newspaper where I used to work at I once had an editor tell me to start putting commas in wherever I didn’t have them and to delete all the ones I’d already put in.

Truss’ funny little book is a great rundown of the importance of punctuation. She includes lots of great anecdotes about funny punctuation mistakes, but also really helpful tips. I’ve always been particularly annoyed when people write “it’s” and mean “its.” I’m sure many other writers have their own grammatical pet peeves and she touches on most of them.

One point Truss makes, which I really agree with, is the importance of maintaining correct grammar in the new mediums we use. If texting, email and blogging have become our main forms of written communication (more than books, newspaper and magazines) then we shouldn’t be lax in the way we write. The fact that our way of communicating is changing so rapidly puts a stronger importance in making sure that communication is the best that it can be.

BOTTOM LINE: An entertaining and informative look at punctuation. Pick it up if you share her disdain for a misplaced apostrophe.

11 comments:

Gina @ Hott Books said...

It definitely looks like something I could use ;)

annieb said...

I am also commaphobic and that includes the colon and semicolon, but I disliked this book and really couldn't get into it. I used to think commas were a matter of common sense--apparently not. Having been for many years, a part-time technical writer for a state agency with extreme proofreading involved, I have come to believe that I am hopeless. I usually just leave out almost all commas and let the proofers put them in. They love me! They call it job insurance.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Gina - It definitely gave me a few good tips.

Annieb - I need someone who follows me around and corrects my misuse of commas!

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

This sounds like an extremely amusing read! I used to be an assistant teacher for a professor and graded more papers than I'd like to remember. My biggest grammatical pet peeves:

-there, their and they're
-too, to and two
-passive voice (although I'm guilty of this in non-academic settings)

Oh, and I actually had students try to use texting abbreviations (like BTW, ur and b/c) in their FINAL papers...ugh!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I teach composition...you wouldn't believe it unless I actually showed you some of the stuff I read each semester. I don't think I ask my students for much but I cannot stand Run-Ons, Subject Verb Disagreement and Comma Splices. I have this book on my shelf at work and I think I've actually read it. I need to get it back down soon!

Suey said...

Read and loved this book years ago...fun to remember it again!

FABR Steph said...

This is a great reminder to go ahead and give this one a try. I picked it up when it was offered for free a good year ago. I will plan to give it a read. Thank you for your review.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kat - They used BTW in a paper!!! *Head hits desk* This is what texting have done to the art of writing.

Peppermint PhD - Ha, I can't imagine! I remember being horrified by the mistakes that others made in some of my creative writing classes in college. But they were probably just as horrified by mine!

FABR Steph - I have way too many books that fall into that category.

Jenners said...

I've always wanted to read this book … thanks for the reminder.

wordsandpeace.com said...

I read this book 2 years ago and enjoyed it. In my review, I mention 2 other similar books: http://wordsandpeace.com/2010/10/19/eats-shoots-and-leaves/

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

wordsandpeace - I'll have to check those out!