Eating Up This Book

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss — brilliant! Thanks to my teacher-friend Dean Leigh for passing it along to me. This beautiful book is about punctuation. Isn’t that wonderful? Now, don’t roll your eyes at me. I understand that most people do not appreciate nor care to read about punctuation, but I do.

A well-constructed sentence is a piece of art, like a building of the most exquisite architecture, and it is a delight to parse that sentence out and see how it is put together. What parts make up this beautiful whole, and in what order? Yes, I was that child who enjoyed diagramming sentences. I still enjoy it. All those lovely lines — straight and slanted, perpendicular and at angles — are satisfying to behold.

I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw its clever cover, those pandas slyly erasing the comma from “eats, shoots and leaves” perhaps in order to spare their lives and enable them to consume their dinner! Only a brilliant mind could create such “cutity”.

The book did not disappoint. It amusingly points out punctuation mistakes in our everyday world and goes on to explain the rules behind the proper punctuation and how those rules have evolved with language. The author and I agree on nearly everything. Isn’t that peachy keen?  Our one area of disagreement — well one must excuse the woman for being British — is the Oxford comma. The only time I will dispense with the use of my beloved Oxford comma is when I’m dead. The Brits may call me a silly, daft, and vain American, but I don’t care.

Perhaps the most memorable part of this book is the author’s constant reference to and use in sentences of the candy Skittles. She seems obsessed with them. Well, so am I! It’s yet another thing we have in common. Go figure. Skittles are the best candy for readers and writers alike; those tiny pieces can take hours to consume one at a time, so they keep a mouth busy through entire writing projects. They are also delicious. I like to organize mine by color first, saving the red ones for last!

Don’t save this book for last, though. Read it now! It will be as sweet as Skittles to all you grammar geeks!

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