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

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Lynne Truss
(Gotham Books, New York: 2004)

First published in U.K. in 2003 by Profile Books.

READ: March 2006

Hee. Another funny book. I was given it as a present back in 2004 immediately before I left for Southeast Asia, but hadn't gotten around to reading it. By March of this year, plans were firmly underway to head to Japan for a year (or some) to teach English, so I figured it was time to figure out punctuation.

I've always been a bit of a punctuation stickler. Not always in my own writing (I do tend to drag things on and on), but when editing others' work. Plus in grade 8, my English teacher, Mr. Waddington (who, strangely, had been my French teacher the year before, but that's another story entirely), told me I overused commas. I'm not sure you can actually overuse commas - usually the problem is underuse, no? - but there you have it.

Anyway, this book hasn't helped really in terms of making me a better English teacher, but it was an excellent book nonetheless. It is quite funny. It's certainly not a how-to book. Truss doesn't really tell you when a comma is appropriate, but she can sure show many examples of inappropriateness. And the poor apostrophe! That's the one that drives me batty. It's so simple to use, yet so rarely used right. I can forgive things like "1970's" (shouldn't be an apostrophe), but "Orange's for sale" is only right if there is one thing for sale and it happens to be called Orange. And "it's" versus "its" - the easiest rule in the entire grammar book - let's just not go there.

Yes, the hype that surrounded its publication was worth it. It's a good book and quite enjoyable.

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