Things That Make Us [Sic], by Martha Brockenbrough (10 April — 11 April)

Did you enjoy Eats, Shoots & Leaves? You will probably enjoy this book. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read on.

Things That Make Us [Sic], besides having an awesome title, is a book about grammar and punctuation in the real world. Brockenbrough lays out the fundamental rules of grammar and punctuation in an easy-to-understand way and throws in a few references to Princess Bride and lesser pop culture, too. So if, say, you have no idea what a comma splice is or whether to insure or ensure, you can read this book and find out.

Brockenbrough starts each chapter with a letter to someone complaining about various grammar slights they have perpetrated. This is often amusing, especially when the Toronto Maple Leafs fight back (with what I consider a good argument). She also gives lots of lists of proper usage of various constructs and covers a lot of the big complaints (split infinitives and the like). What I like about her stance is that it’s both prescriptive and descriptive, which is as things should be. But, of course, “irregardless” has to go.

Also of course, if you’re nerdy enough to pick up this book, you probably don’t need it. There were a few times I found myself skimming her lists to find the jokes because I just didn’t want to think about all those words that other people use incorrectly. And, for a book on grammar that also makes fun of people for bad spelling, I found the mangled “Germam, Shepherds” (instead of “German Shepherds”) baffling. I’m sure the next edition will fix that.

Rating: 8/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)

P.S. Brockenbrough has a blog which is, like the book, often entertaining.

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