Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Mary Norris, 2015

A quirky, funny, informative, and just plain fun book by a long time copy editor at The New Yorker.  Norris combines her biography (Cleveland, Rutgers, UVM English MA, jobs as a milkman and costume store worker) with delightful explorations of punctuation, grammar, and syntax.  She pairs individual punctuation forms with writers who exemplify their use or misuse—the comma is represented by Dickens and Melville, the semicolon by Henry James, the dash by Emily Dickinson—mixing history, literary criticism, and instruction in how to write more correctly.  Perhaps my favorite section was the one that tried (with only mixed success) to clarify when to use ‘which’ and when to use ‘that’.  It is clear that punctuation is basically an aid in understanding and pacing for the reader or orator and that rules change or at least differ depending on location and time.  Lots of good words to look up, as well, e.g. ultracrepidate=going beyond your province, an important caveat for the copy editor!  Having first read a long excerpt in TNY, this was worth reading in the entirety.