Eats Shoots and LeavesBesides having a fantastic title (from an equally good joke), was this book worth the hype? Did you read it? What did you think?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Haven't read it.  Haven't even heard of it. How did that happen?  After reading this discussion, I'm adding it to my list.  I'm with you all in loving the title, of course, and I'm intrigued to read about the colour and theatre issues.  I've always preferred their spelling of those words, so I'm anxious to see if I can figure out why.  The comma thing is a giant controversy in my life, so I'm always looking for some clarity--even if I disagree.  Thanks for the recommendations, all! 

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sfwriter | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Eats Shoots and Leaves

Besides having a fantastic title (from an equally good joke), was this book worth the hype? Did you read it? What did you think?

Hi -- I actually found this book to be more helpful for me than for students (although I have recommended it to a few advanced students -- but definitely not for ESL students!).  It's a worthwhile read, because it explains the reasons for many of the things that people fight over (such as the Oxford comma, an issue over which I have seen dignfied English teachers practically come to blows.)  I think Lynne Truss does a good job explaining the differences between English and American usage.  If I want really in-depth discussion of some things I'd rather use Fowler's Modern English Usage, but this is a very good overview and entertaining to boot.  What I like best about Truss's book is her emphasis on clarity -- which is something I hear ESL students complain about a lot.  English is confusing enough without ambiguous or incorrect punctuation.  So yes -- read it for yourself, and then possibly extract parts of it or chapters for your students for recommendations.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the read (being a grammar geek), I found only part particularly useful as a teacher - the title.  I enjoy using the title and the attending pictures as a way of demonstrating the power and importance of punctutation.  There is also a good story by Hemingway that I use to bring the point home:  "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber".  I ask the students to decide if there should be a comma after short or not, depending on their reading of the story.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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I certainly thought it was a worthwhile read - if for nothing else than because it's witty and entertaining.  The differences between British and American rules are evident, but since most students couldn't care less about either set of rules, some of the examples are worth the effort in the classroom.

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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I haven't read this, but it's on my list.  Would you suggest just jumping in and plowing through it from page 1 or are some chapters more relevant than others?  I am one of those who likes to take something away from my reading (or Professional Development) that I can use immediately in my classroom.

The book's on a shelf in my classroom, and I'm currently out of town. When I return, I'll check to see which chapters I recommend that will suit your needs. Personally, I just enjoyed jumping in and reading, but I'll admit that I skipped around from time to time when I found something that particularly interested me. 

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I like the children's version better than the one for grown-ups. I used it in a 7th grade grammar class, and it really helped them understand danglers and misplaced modifiers.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I haven't read this, but it's on my list.  Would you suggest just jumping in and plowing through it from page 1 or are some chapters more relevant than others?  I am one of those who likes to take something away from my reading (or Professional Development) that I can use immediately in my classroom.

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Nevertheless, as an English teacher of traditional grammar, I found the book entertaining and clever. Certainly I would recommend it to people who are interested in language. Yes, the British rules are different from ours; their penchant for placing quotation marks after periods and commas annoys me, but at least they're consistent just as they are with their odd spellings of colour and humour, for instance. Try reading it! I think you'll enjoy it, too.

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urthona | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Unfortunately, Louis Menand beat me to the punch: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/06/28/040628crbo_books1

The money quote: "An Englishwoman lecturing Americans on semicolons is a little like an American lecturing the French on sauces."

My experience is that British writers, editors, and scholars follow only one rule: whatever sounds right is correct (even if it is inconsistent within the text).

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