Book: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Giant newspaper column.
209 pages, ★★★

Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a feisty, comical account of how punctuation can completely change the meaning of a text. It contains some historic examples of punctuation disasters, such as a love letter (which, when punctuated differently, becomes nasty); and an unpunctuated telegram, which could signal either distress or “everything’s okay” depending on how the receiver chooses to punctuate it.

This book’s thesis is that we should show everyone the importance of punctuation. The author asks us to bring black marker pens and correction fluid when we go out so that we can correct mistakes on menus, advertisements and billboards. She even jokingly asks us to take “a gun” in the event that we start to care too much.

This book reads like an extended newspaper column. Its humorous tone and light subject matter render it palatable enough to read on a pleasant Sunday morning. Also, just like a Sunday newspaper column, this book provokes conversation in places, usually through jokes and trivia, and takes a strongly-opinionated stance on inoffensive and irrelevant topics. Jeremy Clarkson’s column plays a similar role in society to this book.

The fact that I proofread part-time helped me to enjoy Eats, Shoots & Leaves more than most people would. How much can punctuation really influence our lives? Does good punctuation enrich our human existence? Does punctuation even make an interesting topic of conversation? No! Three stars is the most I can give to a non-academic book on this topic. ★★★

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