Cover Image: Have You Eaten Grandma?

Have You Eaten Grandma?

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Member Reviews

This is fun, informative book about everything grammar.  While I did get through it because I was given an ARC to review I would find it more useful as reference.  Lots of interesting tidbits of information though that I am glad I didn't miss.
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Since I am a bit of a word nerd myself, I recognized the title of this book as a common meme that makes the circles of comma and grammar aficionados; I think I’ve even seen it on a tee-shirt. Given the title and the cartoon on the front, I thought this would be a humorous but insightful guide to the basics of punctuation and perhaps grammar. So I was a little surprised when I actually read the book and found that the author had a strange blend of humor (some of which was very funny, mostly from outside sources) and a more ponderous way of actually writing about the grammar itself in many (though not all) sections. It was like the book was at war with itself—should it be entirely humorous with just enough grammatical truth to make it accurate, or should it be a more densely written book with occasional humor. Still, as a freelance copy editor myself, I did enjoy this book—if one can enjoy a book on such a topic!—especially the humor and some of the longer rants about punctuation, grammar, and word usage. I’ve been known to do that myself!
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Have You Eaten Grandma? by Gyles Brandreth is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-August.

As a book reviewer and an on & off editor, this book had looked super, super interesting. And so it is: it's written in the voice of an approachable, smarty everyman; like a person from NPR (which is in its own way sort of like the BBC?). It has quite punny chapter names about the origins and purposes for different kinds of punctuation, spelling, suffixes, pluralization, US vs UK terms, abbreviations/acronyms, slang & obscenties. Even with my level of understanding of syntax and grammar, there could have been a lot more about the semi-colon; yet there was more than plenty US vs UK terms - more than I’d ever seen!
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It's hard to write a book about punctuation that is funny, but Gyles Brandreth succeeds in "Have You Eaten Grandma?" The title alone caused me to chuckle. The book provides some excellent examples of poor punctuation. 
This is a fun, guide to punctuation reminiscent of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.
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Along with a refresher on things I already knew (but still obviously need explained again), there are nice little tidbits of knowledge scattered about. I had no idea 1960s British typewriters had no exclamation mark (point for us USIANs) key. I loathe what Twitter shorthand and spelling errors are unleashing on us. For instance – “i smell like mens colon.” “I think my gramma got die of beaties.” “I rather b skinny den have sellulight I tell u dat much #justsayin” On the other hand and in defense of what we sometimes read, there is the dreaded auto-correct which is not always a friend. The mnemonics are interesting but in the day of spellcheck, I have doubts that many will take the time to learn them anymore.

I agree with some of your annoying words list (awesomesauce, totes, pushback) and will add my own: “super” when used for “very.” It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Your feelings about the much hated “Your call is important to us” had me in stitches. The chapter on euphemisms serves up some oldies but goodies along with one I’d love to see authors of historical books use – “Give someone a green gown.”

As you say, “making it clear” – that’s what it’s all about.

“Language is power. Words do make a difference. They can reinforce stereotypes, cause offense, undermine, hurt, and humiliate. You don’t have to wrap everything you say in cotton wool, but you should choose your words carefully. Good communication is about courtesy and kindness as well as clarity and getting your message across.”

I will take your advice to heart and continue to increase my word power by seeking new and interesting ones to add to my collection. Just reading this book added quite a few including kickie-wickie, pingle, and one I’m afraid we in the US will be experiencing as politicians gear up for the next election cycle – tergiversate. Dictionaries and old Reader’s Digests, here I come. B+
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If you love digging into English grammar and poking at the inconsistencies, this might be for you even if you don't really need another usage manual. Brandreth's tone is conversational and funny, and his advice is good, if broad. I particularly enjoyed the historical info and info on differences between British and American English. This has a much nicer tone than Eats Shoots and Leaves, so I'd recommend it over that one to people who want to learn more about usage. Brandreth doesn't belittle his reader who doesn't know as much as he does about grammar, which is a huge plus. This book won't take the place of my beloved Garner's American Usage (now Modern English Usage in the 4th edition)  but it certainly deserves a place on my bookcase and in my recommendations to students.
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What a fun way to polish your writing or learn more about quirky grammar and spelling rules that may perplex you. This book is cheeky, easy to understand, and will give every reader more confidence in their personal,c school, and business writing. Every student and every desk should have a copy of this short but important little book!
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Where was this book in my intro to writing class?  This would have been a lot of help!  I sometimes struggle with grammar and this book seriously told me my grammar mistakes!  Also, it feels like the author is talking to you which made the book very enjoyable. Another thing I like is that the author gives you correct and wrong samples of how you should be using certain words. I will keep this book close to me for future reference!   Which I already know I will be going back to in the near future.
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I'm an editor, and I love grammar, so I was interested in this book. I liked the parts about American and British English, especially as I have clients in both the US and Britain. This book provides a great, though broad, overview of things that could be beneficial to beginning writers (though they should always adhere to the house style guide and manuals such as The Chicago Manual of Style if they are hoping to publish their work). I enjoyed the little anecdotes and historical facts, as well. This will be a book I'll keep at my desk and refer to from time to time, especially if I want a little chuckle
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I was provided a NetGalley version of this book for its upcoming American edition from Penguin. I'm grateful that this happened. I thoroughly loved this book, but then, I am a bit of a grammar wonk, at least in thought if not always in deed. Emily Favilla's "A World Without Whom" really rocked my stodgy grammar police world. She made me appreciate how technology is changing the rules of language and grammar, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Now along comes Gyles Brandreth, a true hero and bastion of the sensible world of grammar and what does he do? He effectively reinforces some of Favilla's points. Don't get me wrong - he is not endorsing the wanton breaking of grammatical rules. He is perhaps less flexible and less accepting than Emmy is in allowing for different sets of rules in different settings (particularly online.) So while enabling sticklers to hold on to their preferences, teaching a new generation of readers simple mnemonics for remembering basic grammatical rules, he isn't above recognizing Emmy Favilla as a fellow traveler, and that grammar rules are flexible and in flux. Brandreth's writing style is very British, as are his attempts at comedy and levity. His mnemonics are - well, let's just say they won't be everyone's cup of tea. In conclusion, I heartily recommend this book to anyone. You don't need to be a grammar wonk (or even grammar-adjacent) to appreciate Brandreth's efforts to educate without much scolding. It's a surprisingly fun read for what could have been just a rant. Kudos, Mr. Brandreth.
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I'd like Gyles Brandreth to be my English teacher.  This book was so much fun I will remember the grammar because of all of the great examples the author provides.  They are just too funny not to memorize!

There is something to be said for procrastination:  it ensures you've got something to do tomorrow.   Yes, this is how you'd use a colon.  I am going to post this on my computer screen saver if I'm not infringing on his copyright.  

My husband is dark and handsome. when it is dark he's handsome.    I will now have a funny example to explain a subordinate clause.  

The entire book is like this and he covers British and American grammar.  

I am definitely putting in an order for a print copy of this book to use as a reference and for those days when I could really use a timeless great laugh.   I think it will become a lunchroom favorite at the office..
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Gyles Brandreth cleverly manages to show and tell, simultaneously, how to use punctuation, grammar, and good English properly—and in my case—without putting the reader to sleep. 

It hasn’t (yet) proven to be of life-saving importance, but if such a circumstance does present itself, I’m hoping that it will occur after the book’s release date next month. It has, however, proven its usefulness; I’ve referred to it at least a couple dozen times since reading it. Its humorous, self-referencing nature is helpful in recalling rules for writing. If my life is ever hanging in the balance—dependent upon something like my understanding of hyphen and dash usage—I hope I’d have access to this go-to guide. 

While Brandreth’s book will undoubtedly have a positive effect on my writing, I can’t help but feel hyperaware of everything I’m writing since reading it. Every punctuation mark feeds an already overindulgent self-doubt. I’ve even found that I’m procrastinating—to a much higher degree than my baseline—in posting book reviews, most notably this one. Hopefully these things fade because I really dislike the self-help shelves.


Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for the provided e-ARC and the opportunity to read this book. My review is honest, unbiased, and voluntary. #NetGalley #HaveYouEatenGrandma
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Some good snippets but there are better books out there

This book contains some good writing hints, some interesting information, and a little humor, but there was a lot I skipped over because there was too much detail. I also found the writing style pompous and some of the conclusion that the author draws are not validated. There are much better books out there, especially Benjamin Dreyer’s “Dreyer’s English” which I found to be a funny, insightful and thoroughly entertaining guide to better writing. Another book that I liked was “A World Without ‘Whom’” by Emmy J. Favilla.
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Language is ever changing, but it's still fun to read the gaffes! I am certainly not one of the grammar police; I've certainly made more than a few errors myself, BUT- I do enjoy a good laugh from time to time when reading these type of books.. They can leave me in tears running down my cheeks in laughter! This is  a good one for a collection! It's certainly being added to my collection!
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***Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review***

For a grammar nerd like me, this was a breath of fresh air! I love learning more and it's fun to see all of the hilarious mistakes people make in the name of commas.
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A fun exploration of grammar and the peculiarities of grammar in the English language. There is humor, scholarly explanations, and and easy to understand examples to help the reader gain greater comfort with the English language.
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I enjoyed that this book covers both American and British grammar in a fun light way. I was suprised to find myself laughing from a book about grammar and I enjoyed the bit of history in the book.

I would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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This is a clever, funny little guide to grammar with clear examples and helpful footnotes. It's also full of fascinating historical facts, anecdotes, and quotations. Whether you struggle with grammar or you just want to brush up, I would recommend this book.
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This is a general grammar/spelling guide that explains the peculiarities of English, both American and British, and points the way toward clear, coherent writing. Gyles Brandreth cheekily makes the case for caring about usage without being too pedantic. Particularly strong is his explanation for the subtle differences between American and British English and how Noah Webster formulated American spellings. If people are writing for publication, they should use the style manuals specifically created for what their fields demand, i.e., The Chicago Manual of Style and adhere to those standards. But for a broader view, this book is a good first step toward writing better.

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest assessment.
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