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on 15 June 2017
This book's chatty style guides the reader through the evolution of punctuation as used in English. There was something deeply satisfying about seeing a snapshot of the roles performed by each punctuation mark in turn. It's also been fascinating to muse on how two new developments have changed the state of the written word since the 2007 edition: the launch of Kindle and other mobile devices (which are extending the "swansong" of the book as a medium), and the rapid decline in text speak due to "unlimited text" tariffs and predictive testicles lol
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on 18 May 2017
Not sure why this is cropping up for review so long after purchase. Reasonably good commentary on punctation and the need for accuracy, but peters out rather than stays consistently strong. Readable and forgettable
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on 12 April 2017
This is a very entertaining read about grammar, for readers who quail every time they see misplaced apostrophes, incorrectly applied commas, or overused exclamation marks. Great read, with a lot of useful punctuation advice too!
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on 20 July 2017
Lynne Truss is my guru! As a professional writer, I often check her advice on various aspects of grammar and her book is such a giggle as well as being educational. Brilliant work!
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on 23 March 2015
It was reassuring to read the words of a fellow stickler, letting me know that it's not just me who still cares about punctuation! Written in an engaging and entertaining style. Highly recommended read.
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on 2 November 2016
A book recommended to me several years ago but only recently took time to buy.
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on 28 May 2017
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I have huge admiration for Lynne Truss and for what she has accomplished with this book. She has provoked a debate about the written English language which will serve it well, and has stimulated many thousands of people to actually care about what they are writing and how they are writing it.

I expected to love the book, but was surprised by how difficult it was to enjoy.

The problem is not in the meat of the book, the middle section, which is all about the history, evolution and use of popular punctuation. That's the best bit of it and is thoroughly informative and good reading.

The opening chapters are the major issue; Lynne hectors and rants and has a good old moan about how awful everything is. Frankly, it's hard going even if you are a perfect punctuator. For someone who has learned a little grammar the hard way, by picking it up as I go along and by figuring out the rules from well-written examples, I found it all rather oppressive. 15 years ago I was one of those people who didn't know where on earth to put an apostrophe, and it was hard not to feel vaguely insulted and rather embarrassed by the opening section's torrent of scorn and outrage.

If you persevere then you'll be rewarded by the middle sections which are much more fun, more fact-based, and as a result are more educational.

The end, again, slithers back into a rant against modern communication and a gloomy, miserable outlook that we're all doomed, laddy, to use emoticons and thus forsake the elegance of language itself.

Lynne says that this is not a textbook, nor a grammatical guide, and she recommends several other books for people who really want to know more about the hard rules (and soft rules) of written English.

"Eats, Shoots and Leaves..." is not such a book.

It's an entertainment.

It's probably most rewarding for those folk who enjoyed a "proper" education and who can smugly agree with every word Lynne says (probably without having to put those rules into practise very often).

For anyone who has experienced an education in the UK's comprehensive system in the last 25 years, this isn't a particularly helpful or inspiring volume. Try something like the Sunday Times "Wordpower" guide instead; which is full of concise information and which isn't full of judgmental comment.

Must try harder?
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on 8 August 2004
"Eats, Shoots & Leaves" is not a grammar guide per se, as it doesn't really teach the basics of punctuation. Instead, it's a grammarians dream come true - an enjoyable and illuminating discussion of the history and importance of punctuation (Hmmmm, did I use that dash correctly?). Lovers of punctuation have been decrying the use of "netspeak" with no or minimal punctuation. Accordingly, Truss wrote this engaging book with the rallying cry: "Sticklers unite!" However, Truss does not simply attack the web; indeed, she asserts that text messaging and email have made reading more important than it has been of late. However, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, "It's the punctuation stupid!"
Truss's dry British wit (e.g., talking about wanting to marry the inventor of the colon) is used to great effect in her writing. And amusing vignettes are peppered through the text, including the introduction of the "interrobang" as well as the spread of the "Strukenwhite" virus. She even manages to make punctuation seem, well, sexy. If you've ever found yourself in a spirited debate about the Oxford comma (i.e., the second comma in the phrase "red, white, and blue"), then you'll likely enjoy this book.
Some reviewers have asserted that American readers may be a bit lost; however, Truss is careful about pointing out American versus British punctuation uses. I was never confused. Overall, this book is delightful - most highly recommended.
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on 13 November 2008
I have for many years been what the author calls a "stickler", i.e. someone who exercises total pedantry where punctuation is concerned. Her book has, therefore, given me the utmost pleasure: whilst reading it I nodded and smiled my agreement at just about every paragraph. In addition, Ms Truss's humour made me laugh out loud on occasion (much to my embarrassment and to the consternation of people around me who observed that I was merely reading about what they saw as boring old punctuation). This book must surely amuse and delight all those "sticklers" who flinch (or worse) when they encounter errors of punctuation (sadly, not just by greengrocers) and should be compulsory reading for all office workers (including the bosses, who dictate commas to their poor, beleaguered secretaries, intending them to go in totally inappropriate places and who have no idea what a semicolon is for). Good on yer, Lynne, and more power to your apostrophe (not to mention your sadly misunderstood semicolon)!

Interestingly, this book gave me reasons for the punctuation I have used (possibly inappropriately at times), as a matter of course over the years without really knowing why, and has corrected me in areas where I was unsure and may have been at fault. It's a book to keep by one's side as a guide for times when in doubt - and who isn't in doubt from time to time? I'm sure someone will answer me on this review to point out where I've failed to punctuate it correctly!!!

I bought "Talk to the Hand" for my husband, who is a "manners stickler", last Christmas and he also sat nodding and smiling (and even quietly commenting, "Oh my goodness, yes!") whilst reading it (or even more colourfully now and again!). I therefore think Ms Truss must have a real talent for getting people to nod and smile (and be even more colourful!!!). Good for her! I urge you to read both books, to learn and enjoy the (very painless) lessons!
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