Before you worry, this isn’t a book written by our former prime minister – this is Lynne Truss, an English author, journalist, novelist, and radio broadcaster and dramatist. She’s currently a book reviewer for different publications. Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a non-fiction book published back in 2003 in which Truss, who had just finished hosting BBC Radio 4’s Cutting the Dash radio show, bemoans the state of punctuation and how it should be being used.
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Eats, Shoots & Leaves came at a time when punctuation was starting to go out of fashion. almost 20 years on, this book feels like it is still incredibly relevant. Since then I’ve had the rise of social media and the rise of smartphones – arguably two factors that have made the need to try hard with punctuation less needed.
But is Eats, Shoots & Leaves as a book actually any good or is it a little preachy? Well, in short: it depends on how much you care about punctuation.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves plot – 4/5
So obviously this isn’t a fictional book so we won’t be reviewing the story and plot-writing abilities here. What I’ll be doing is reviewing Truss’ ability to engage me with the content she wrote about.
As I wrote above, Eats, Shoots & Leaves appears to be Truss articulating her frustrations at the way society was forgetting about grammar back in the early to mid-noughties.
Truss takes us through examples of each type of grammar: the apostrophe, the semi-colon, the comma etc and offers up the correct uses and often the ways in which they have become misused including some humorous examples where it has resulted in a quite different action or interpretation.
The first half of the book had me engaged as I understood the uses and purposes of all of the more simple forms of grammar. However, as it began to be more about the more difficult forms of grammar, it became less and more of a learning lesson. Either way, it was enjoyable.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves characters – 3/5
There aren’t really any characters in this book per se. However, as with other previous nonfiction books, I’ll be having a look at the anecdotes and people that Truss chooses to bring into Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Throughout the book, Truss uses plenty of examples to exercise her points. IE, she’ll let us know of a sign she saw or a correspondence she had with someone where, due to the incorrect use of grammar, the whole tone of the conversation came across incorrectly or it meant something completely different.
If you’re someone who isn’t into proper grammar or isn’t bothered about improving upon your grammar, you may find this book incredibly stuck up and condescending (and confusing if you don’t get the references). However, my full-time job is in Communications and so it’s incredibly important in my role to write correctly so reading some of the examples Truss offers in here genuinely helped me to understand the different grammatical elements better.
However, I give this section a lower rating because the book is very preachy and condescending. I understood most of it and learnt from a lot of it but if my grammar was poor, I would have absolutely no pleasure in reading this book unless I had a real intention to improve my grammar.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves final rating – 3.75/5
If you’re into grammar or want to improve upon your grammar, then Eats, Shoots & Leaves will likely be quite the enjoyable read for you. If you’re not into grammar or have no intention to improve your knowledge then Eats, Shoots & Leaves won’t be enjoyable for you. I think it’s as simple as that.
Obviously it’s written very well and there are a fair few humorous moments even for those who aren’t grammatically adept so you may enjoy these. Either way, Eats, Shoots & Leaves very much has a very specific audience in mind and it just so happens I’m in that bracket.