This is the first in my New Year's Resolution to read more and hence post at least one book review a month on this site.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation is written by Lynne Truss and is just that a book about punctuation. I strongly dislike punctuation and grammar and have since I was in elementary school, but as I have gotten older and have written more for undergrad and grad work and now this blog I realize the importance of the written word and making sure that you are able to read it properly. So I wanted to read this book as I thought it might help me to understand the rules and usage of written grammar much better. I have issues with that damn comma and this book seemed like the way to help learn the rules for the use of the comma. It also sounded like it would be interesting and a fun read. Well, it was all of these things; it is interesting, funny and informative. Truss combines the history of written grammar and where these silly marks like the comma, semicolon and hyphen come from in the publishing world. She also discusses the literary aspects of many of these punctuation marks and writers and their varied usage of many of these marks especially ones like the hyphen or the comma which different writers tend to like or dislike to different degrees. Truss shows us common examples of punctuation mistakes in our everyday life such as at the grocery store or in the mass media. Many of these examples are humorous and show us really how the written word and punctuation has declined recently. She even ends with some discussion on the prevalence of emails as a means of communication. Truss views email as a positive thing for written communication as this means that we are continuing to write and use punctuation, albeit wrongly, but it continues the need to learn punctuation. She discusses the fact that it wasn't so long ago that the prevailing thought was that the television was making reading and writing obsolete, and that punctuation was not getting the needed attention. She acknowledges that our writing especially in emails is not usually correct, in regards to punctuation, but that since we have to continue to write, we can continue to learn the correct punctuation and then starting to write correctly again.
I really enjoyed this book. I think that it should be a book that is required reading for all high school English teachers and their students. And if it is not read in high schools should be adopted into Freshman college English classes, but we need to teach this stuff. I know it is taught, but I had it out of stuffy grammar books that made it boring. Truss makes punctuation interesting and fun. If you haven't read this book yet and need a refresher on punctuation pick it up and enjoy. I would even go so far as saying to buy it as I really think that I will use it as a reference at times so it is a book that can be read and used over and over again.