Monday, August 4, 2008

Book Recommendation: Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Eats Shoots and Leaves is a delightful book – a must read for all budding writers and copy-editors, and for anyone with the love for language. I would consider it a book, which should be read and re-read to grasp the basics of punctuation. I have always been a keen learner of language and tried to learn as much as possible. I’m a typical punctuation-obsessed person who is aghast at “alotcan happen over coffee” on a particular CafĂ© Coffee Day outlet at Koregaon Park. I can’t help looking at it when I cross that signal, thinking how people ignore such an unprofessional job and let it remain unpunctuated for so long! It is not even punctuation; it is plain mistake of skipping space between three words.

Nevertheless, I am not a pro on Punctuation, I’m still learning. That is where this book came handy. The best thing about this book is that it is easy reading. When I read it, I came to know about a few mistakes which I was doing, in putting commas everywhere instead of a hyphen, a semi-colon or a colon. I am still not too clear about colon but I’m fairly clear about semi-colon. Obviously, it will require some practice and attention to details to be expert in it, but over-all I did learn a lot of basics.

As the book says, even people who have English as their mother tongue commit a lot of mistake because they are never taught this language properly. It should, in fact, be covered in the lower classes at school, so that one learns the basics right at the beginning. Very true! I frankly do not remember having studied any particular chapter on Punctuation at school. I would put half the blame on teachers for making subjects seem uninteresting and boring.

Eats Shoots and Leaves has also a lot of humour to keep you interested throughout. So check it out. It is not even expensive. The book also has references of a lot of other books on Punctuation. You may go ahead and read a few or all of them. I have made a note of those books and definitely read it once I'm through all the books I have accumulated on language.

Interestingly, I also found an article on the mistakes in Punctuation which Lynne Truss has done in her book. Of course, when I read this book, I did not expect to perfect the art of Punctuation, but definitely aimed to improve my limited knowledge. And it did serve the purpose to an extent. Atleast, if nothing, at least the book succeeds in making Punctuation important.