Books I love: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Punctuation can get tricky especially when it comes to deciphering what the author intends to say and what strokes or dots need to be used to enhance the structure and meaning of a sentence. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss, we discover how even the slightest of punctuation slipups can turn fatal! Of course, many people may not feel inclined to pick up a book about punctuation, but trust me when I say that this book is an absolute treat to anyone seeking to improve their grammar. A bonus to this book is that you will read about a gun-wielding Panda. Enough said.

This book is funny. Genuinely so. A lot of times we find that humorous narrations can feel clichéd or forced, but Truss lucidly guides novice readers through the rules of punctuation with a smile on their lips. I must warn readers that there is a slight snobbish tone to the book which may turn away the occasional egomaniacal reader. Here is a small excerpt which refers to this seemingly ‘harsh’ tone.

No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, “Good food at it’s best”, you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.

This lighthearted, albeit dark, reminder for us to use apostrophes in their appropriate place may leave many of us (especially us ‘text message-ers’) grinning sheepishly.

On a serious note, this book will give you a comprehensive understanding about the rules governing the usage of apostrophes, commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, hyphens, and periods (a.k.a full stops). The histories of these punctuation marks give the reader a more comprehensive view behind the representation of these punctuation marks beyond being mere dashes and dots. Truss guides her readers with countless examples of how to use punctuation correctly and how not to use them.

If there was something that one could nit-pick about this book is that its tone and occasional dark humour is not for everyone. A lot of her references are easier picked up by a British mind, potentially leaving the rest of us scratching our heads about some allusions that were meant to be funny. The author is a professional journalist and is neither a grammarian nor a qualified linguist, and this has made her book the target of intense scrutiny. Perhaps the most notable one was by the New Yorker. This seems to be more of a retaliatory move since Truss, in the book, references the New Yorker and their punctuation habits quite a bit!  You can read the New Yorker’s take on Eats, Shoots and Leaves here.

This book has been so successful that many other authors jumped on the ‘title’ bandwagon and cashed in. We now have a cookbook called Shoots, Leaves and Eats, a baby parenting book called Eats, Poops and Leaves, and a parody called Eats, Shites and Leaves!

Have you already read this book? If so, what did you like about this book? What is your favorite book on punctuation? Share in comments below.

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“Books I Love” is a new series kicking off in Editor’s Essentials on this World Book Day. Which one(s) do you love? Tell us more by writing your own book review and get an opportunity to be published! Here is what you need to do:

  1. Select a book that you would like to share with other editors, writers, and language enthusiasts.
  2. Write your book review within 500 words.
  3. If you are using quotes or material from other sources, please ensure that you mention each source as a footnote.
  4. Ensure that the files are submitted in the .doc or .docx format.
  5. Be sure to include your full name and your brief bio (this will be published) and send your book review to learning@editorsessentials.com.

Published articles will be rewarded appropriately. Editor’s Essentials will get in touch with you once you made the submission.

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