Strengths: You might learn something.
Weaknesses: You might fall asleep first.
Why I read it: Found at a book sale.
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
If you liked this, try: a grammar textbook.
This book really wasn’t what I expected. I had heard rave reviews of how this book teaches grammar in a clandestine fashion while amusing you with anecdotes of amusing phrases constructed by incorrect placement of apostrophes. I’ve delayed writing this review because I fear that my own grammar won’t be of the extreme militarism exemplified in the book.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves (think about the placement of the commas) starts off well. Truss is passionate about grammar and preserving its correct use in today’s age. Fair enough. We all see signs for “pool’s and spa’s” and it really gets my goat too. Truss seems scarily believable when she wants to campaign a movie company for lack of grammar in their title and it was there I started to get a little worried. When this same instance is mentioned repeatedly in the book, I started to wonder how much was humour and how much was ardent fervour. Truss then becomes more nagging, preaching in a lecture style the proper use of commas, semi colons, exclamation marks and colons (to the point where I don’t think I’ll use them in the review because it was just plain confusing at times). It is good to see that she has a no nonsense approach to grammar, but it falls flat in places and I didn’t know whether to smile awkwardly and back away or run. I do agree with some of her points about the lacklustre correction of grammar these days, but I believe that there are better ways to preach to the masses. It would have been useful to have some more practical examples of poor grammar (e.g. from shop signs, advertisements) than classic books. I doubt whether the grammatically challenged would pick up this book anyway. For me, I manage to read this quickly and then shy away from fear of using : ; ! – again.