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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

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

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation - Lynee Truss, Frank McCourt

I first discovered Lynne Truss and her writing when visiting England.  I was poking around in a bookshop run by a woman who had quite possibly the most sour disposition I've ever encountered in anyone surrounded by books.  Maybe she loved all the books so much she didn't want anyone to take them away.  Anyway, I found Making the Cat Laugh: One Woman's Journal of Single Life on the Margins, and bought it.  A collection of essays and columns, I found it hilarious and have re-read it many times since.  When Eats, Shoots & Leaves came out, I snatched it up because I figured if anyone could make grammar entertaining, it would be Ms. Truss.  I admit, I started it, got distracted, and just this week picked it back up and started over again.

 

I was not disappointed.  Light, amusing, and incredibly informative; I learned that I've been using semi-colons correctly, but using hyphens when I should have been using dashes.  Colons are used for far more than what I remember learning and I'm probably abusing ellipses.  I am apparently old-school (I was taught by old nuns; perhaps that explains it?).  I still write "Ms." instead of "Ms" and use 2 spaces after my periods (full stops), for example. But more than any of that I discovered I care a great deal about proper writing, punctuation and clear communication.  Far more than I would have said if I'd been asked before reading this book.

 

I'm also a bit depressed at the state of grammar thanks in part to falling standards of education and to the ascendency of digital communication.  (I suspect we'd be in a better place, on the whole, if text messaging had been developed after QWERTY keyboards became standard on mobile phones.)  I accept that language evolves, but I can wish that it will evolve without discarding our beloved punctuation. 

 

I'll refer to this book time and again, as I refine and correct my own usage of punctuation and I'll keep fighting the good fight!  ;-)  

 

(Apologies to Ms. Truss for the emoticon.)