I should be nervous. I feel like you are going to judge every usage of my periods, commas, and semicolons. I mean, who in their right minds would write a review on a grammar or usage book? Well, I’m okay because June Casagrande has already taught me that GRAMMAR SNOBS ARE GREAT BIG MEANIES. You can learn about grammar AND have fun. Shocking, isn’t it?
I reviewed that other punctuation book—you know, the one about the pandas shooting each other—and it confirmed Casagrande’s hypothesis about those grammar meanies. Seriously. Here’s a good one from that panda book: “don’t use commas like a stupid person.” Charming, right? Or how about this one: “you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.” In my world that’s….that’s just not nice. Not to mention that book was written for those friends of ours that prefer the Oxford dictionary and who put their commas on the other side of the quotation mark. THE BEST PUNCTUATION BOOK, PERIOD. is a fun and informative book written by one of the coolest, most hip professionals around.
My anticipation for this book revolved around Casagrande’s past style and voice: a bit of a wise crack and a lot of fun. I mean, what other author uses sexual innuendo to teach readers about the predicate nominative? The key word being “fun”. In THE BEST PUNCTUATION BOOK, Casagrande moves toward a more traditional approach. This is a good thing--so much so, you’ll need to buy a couple of copies.
Are you ever curious about the differences between AP Style Guide and the Chicago Manual of Style? Are you one of those people that keep both at their desk? Well, you may then need three copies of Casagrande’s book (e.g., one for the office, one for home, and one for the car). She takes each piece of punctuation, describes their usage, offers examples, and directly compares the input from each major style guide. Where the professionals don’t have opinions, she offers the opinion from a panel of editors. That’s just the first half. The second half is an alphabetized quick-reference. For instance, if you wanted to know if “F-bomb” was hyphenated, you would find it in the back under “F”. I used this to lookup my above referenced “e.g.,” where books, news, science, and academia all agree that a comma is used after it.
Bob Ross gave us happy trees and birds; Casagrande gives us happy em dashes. (That was bad, wasn’t it?) In more serious terms, if you are looking for the most up-to-date desk reference comparing each of the major style guides and usage examples, this is it. Casagrande is the master and indeed has written the best punctuation book, period.
Thanks to Ten Speed Pressing and Crown Publishing for sending me a review copy of this book. I will be standing in line for Casagrande’s next book.