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Eats, Shoots & Leaves : The Zero Tolerance…
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves : The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (original 2003; edition 2006)

by Lynne Truss

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,003279215 (3.8)224
My Achilles heel as a writer has always been commas. I hate them! At the newspaper where I used to work at I once had an editor tell me to start putting commas in wherever I didn’t have them and to delete all the ones I’d already put in.

Truss’ funny little book is a great rundown of the importance of punctuation. She includes lots of great anecdotes about funny punctuation mistakes, but also really helpful tips. I’ve always been particularly annoyed when people write “it’s” and mean “its.” I’m sure many other writers have their own grammatical pet peeves and she touches on most of them.

One point Truss makes, which I really agree with, is the importance of maintaining correct grammar in the new mediums we use. If texting, email and blogging have become our main forms of written communication (more than books, newspaper and magazines) then we shouldn’t be lax in the way we write. The fact that our way of communicating is changing so rapidly puts a stronger importance in making sure that communication is the best that it can be.

BOTTOM LINE: An entertaining and informative look at punctuation. Pick it up if you share her disdain for a misplaced apostrophe. ( )
3 vote bookworm12 | Apr 26, 2012 |
English (274)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (279)
Showing 1-25 of 274 (next | show all)
Required reading for anyone who writes or has an affection for words and language. Funny too. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
I bet it teaches you something! I thought I was pretty savvy on my punctuation, but I learned a few things from this. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
I enjoyed reading about punctuation causing miscommunication, about the history of the various punctuation marks, and the rules for punctuation. My favourite sections was definitely at the beginning with the chapter on apostrophes. She writes well and there were many funny moments in the book. ( )
  MelAnnC | Feb 28, 2016 |
Man, I wish I picked this up two years ago when a few friends recommended it. Punctuation is my nemesis. I hate it, and it hates me back. Me and Commas, we just have a great time messing up a manuscript. This was as easy to read as a book about punctuation could possibly be, so kudos to the author for that. It's no small task to be able to teach about such a horrible subject and entertain the reader at the same time.

Will any of what I read stick? We'll see. I borrowed this from the library, but I'm going to buy a copy now that I've read it. A handy little book to have around while editing.
( )
  ReneeMiller | Feb 25, 2016 |
Every person who possesses an ounce of passion on any subject needs (1) friends who share similar passions and/or (2) a self-help book. Eats, Shoots & Leaves is my self-help book. Thank you, Lynne Truss, for reminding me that I'm not the only one who wants to start a murderous rampage when someone misuses an apostrophe. But most of all, thank you for encouraging—no, demanding—sticklers to unite. Language is a living, changing thing, but that doesn't mean it has to deteriorate back to the caveman days. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 8, 2016 |
I bet it teaches you something! I thought I was pretty savvy on my punctuation, but I learned a few things from this. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
I bet it teaches you something! I thought I was pretty savvy on my punctuation, but I learned a few things from this. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
This is a humorous look at the declining literacy of punctuation. Some of the images Ms. Truss uses are classic: the thought of commas being like hard working sheep dogs tickles the fancy. Interestingly, at times the tone of the book turns slightly edgy - when the author says she is bitter, I think there must be bit of truth to that. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Jan 28, 2016 |
If I ran the world, this would be required reading for every English speaker. ( )
  Gingermama | Jan 24, 2016 |
Fun and funny little book. Maddening, though, as the author is British and Brits and Americans use different punctuation rules. Agh! Still enjoyed all the wit about colons and dashes. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
Fun and funny little book. Maddening, though, as the author is British and Brits and Americans use different punctuation rules. Agh! Still enjoyed all the wit about colons and dashes. ( )
  memlhd | Jan 23, 2016 |
I loved the author's voice and humor (humour) in this book. And what's more: it was informative and easy to follow. My dedication (or previous lack thereof) for proper punctuation in all correspondence, including e-mail has been, for the moment, re-newed! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
I loved the author's voice and humor (humour) in this book. And what's more: it was informative and easy to follow. My dedication (or previous lack thereof) for proper punctuation in all correspondence, including e-mail has been, for the moment, re-newed! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This was a delightful read for me. Of course, like the author, I am always aware of others' punctuation, but I hadn't known any of the history of it, so actually learned something, as well. ( )
  Karin7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
I chose to read this book because I wanted to learn more about correct punctuation. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I got much out of the book. It is a book length rant against those who misuse punctuation. While some information is given on correct usage, it was confusing because it was orginally written for a Brittish audience and apparently Americans do some things differently. I felt like the book would be entertaining to those who already are familiar with punctation rules (the sticklers the author identifies herself with), but only frustrating to those who want to improve their own skill. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 17, 2016 |
Eats, Shoots & Leaves is not your ordinary grammar book. Yes, it does contain examples of how to properly use a comma, a colon, and a semi-colon as well as how to properly use an apostrophe. But, if that's really all the reader is looking for, then I would advise buying another book that's more akin to a handbook.



What Lynne Truss does in this text is provide a wonderful historical perspective for how our punctuation marks came to be and how their usage was formed and has changed historically. In addition, Truss laments the state to which punctuation, and thus, writing skills have sunk over the last few decades. She offers us both this historical perspective on punctuation as well as her lament with great humor and aplomb.



Overall I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars. It doesn't quite reach the 5 star mark for me because I think that she fails to look at the internet and email as anything but a negative communication tool. Truss, especially in her last chapter, takes the Internet to task and comments that she agrees with Truman Capote, that what is done online is merely typing, not writing. In thus doing, she separates the cognitive act of writing from the act of pressing keys on a keyboard as if what qualifies as writing can only be done with pen or pencil. And in so doing, she fails to acknowledge the hundreds of studies in the field of Computers and Writing (a sub-discipline of English and Composition or Rhetoric and Composition) that examine the writing via computer and the profound pedagogical advances in computer-mediated communication.



While I appreciate Truss' call for us, as sticklers of punctuation and grammar, to "fight like tigers to preserve our punctuation", I think that she carries her derision of Internet based communications too far. ( )
  slpwhitehead | Jan 16, 2016 |
Eats, Shoots & Leaves is not your ordinary grammar book. Yes, it does contain examples of how to properly use a comma, a colon, and a semi-colon as well as how to properly use an apostrophe. But, if that's really all the reader is looking for, then I would advise buying another book that's more akin to a handbook.



What Lynne Truss does in this text is provide a wonderful historical perspective for how our punctuation marks came to be and how their usage was formed and has changed historically. In addition, Truss laments the state to which punctuation, and thus, writing skills have sunk over the last few decades. She offers us both this historical perspective on punctuation as well as her lament with great humor and aplomb.



Overall I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars. It doesn't quite reach the 5 star mark for me because I think that she fails to look at the internet and email as anything but a negative communication tool. Truss, especially in her last chapter, takes the Internet to task and comments that she agrees with Truman Capote, that what is done online is merely typing, not writing. In thus doing, she separates the cognitive act of writing from the act of pressing keys on a keyboard as if what qualifies as writing can only be done with pen or pencil. And in so doing, she fails to acknowledge the hundreds of studies in the field of Computers and Writing (a sub-discipline of English and Composition or Rhetoric and Composition) that examine the writing via computer and the profound pedagogical advances in computer-mediated communication.



While I appreciate Truss' call for us, as sticklers of punctuation and grammar, to "fight like tigers to preserve our punctuation", I think that she carries her derision of Internet based communications too far. ( )
  slpwhitehead | Jan 16, 2016 |
I need to learn more about grammar. This is an interesting book. I enjoyed finding out how parts of punctuation were first used. Then I realized I don’t use them right like I should. I liked how she described what people do wrong and the right way to use punctuation. It made grammar more fun than an English textbook.
( )
  i.should.b.reading | Jan 15, 2016 |
I chose to read this book because I wanted to learn more about correct punctuation. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I got much out of the book. It is a book length rant against those who misuse punctuation. While some information is given on correct usage, it was confusing because it was originally written for a British audience and apparently Americans do some things differently. I felt like the book would be entertaining to those who already are familiar with punctuation rules (the sticklers the author identifies herself with), but only frustrating to those who want to improve their own skill. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
The stickler's guide to punctuation. A lot of fun.
Read June 2006 ( )
  mbmackay | Dec 6, 2015 |
I never thought I would enjoy a book about punctuation, but I enjoyed reading this as much as any novel, looking forward to getting into a new chapter (') every night. Truss's engaging and witty style of writing makes punctuation an exciting topic. "Sticklers" unite! ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
from the convention; a light look at the different punctuation marks such as the apostrophe, semicolon, etc. Written by a Brit, she includes the nuances that vary in America. Lots of examples showing how different placement of punctuation, or no punctuation at all, can alter the meaning of the written word. In the end of the book, she takes on email and text messages - and their own brand of punctuation that's been introduced. An intriguing look at something not really thought about until you see it wrong in a book and wonder - did the author really mean that?! ( )
  nancynova | Jun 15, 2015 |
It's true, I really didn't read this when it came out. And having read it now, I can't feel too bad about that. I am emphatically not a linguistic prescriptivist, so the chapters on the terrible slow death of communication were nothing but grating to me. I did like the little histories, and Truss has a deft hand with an example, but overall I wasn't blown away. ( )
  jen.e.moore | May 28, 2015 |
This fun spin on a traditional grammar book is a great resource for any elementary school teacher, or any grammar teacher. for that manner, and for those who are irked by incorrectly constructed signs, aderts, or other public media. Lynne Truss takes her history as a word nerd who became an editor and writer and turns it into a fairly useful and very amusing grammar discussion and remedial text. Without embarrassment, she compells readers to join in her revulsion of bad grammar yet tolerance of grammatical preferences by highlighting examples of all kinds of istakes, arguments, and difficulties that arise from converting the spoken word into a written format. The layout and alignment are a traditional text, though the grammar examples are indented and the rules listed italicized. The overall tone is one of British bemusement at the state of the Queen's English, primarily in Britain itself. She even treats Americans fairer than other British authors in regard to the influence of American culture on British education, saying that it is not the fault of the influence, but the attitude of the teachers toward punctuation. The book serves to help illuminate the pitfalls of having an increasingly written public discourse with an decreasing emphasis on proper punctuation. ( )
  gemerritt | Apr 24, 2015 |
I read all the books like this that I can find. I used the bibliography of this to find more. I can't evaluate them objectively.

Ok, ETA. I just read and loved [b:The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left|542046|The Fight for English How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left|David Crystal|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348717095s/542046.jpg|529385] which is a response to the 'zero-tolerance' part of Truss's book by the wonderful & wise [a:David Crystal|18265|David Crystal|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1273018417p2/18265.jpg]. He wrote about a lot more than just Truss in his concise overview, but I noted one thing he said that I want to mention here. He seems to think people are thinking of this book as a Usage Manual.

Gad I hope not! I mean, yes, Truss has some good tips. But this is popular because it's funny! It's tongue-in-cheek, almost a parody of punditry in some ways. Please, if you want a real usage manual, get something like [b:The Chicago Manual of Style/The Elements of Style|1320638|The Chicago Manual of Style/The Elements of Style|William Strunk|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348084714s/1320638.jpg|2176636] or a textbook or something. Read Truss for *fun.*

And read Crystal, too, for fun and for enlightenment. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
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