between you & me

Two New Books for Your Inner Word Nerd

that's not english
That’s Not English by Erin Moore
Published by Gotham on March 24, 2015 
Source: Publisher 
Pages: 240
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Though she was raised in the United States, Erin Moore spent much of her adulthood in England, where she quickly learned that all English is not created equal. In That’s Not English, she breaks down the linguistic differences between the American and British English, and explains what those differences suggest about our cultures. Beyond simply bouncing back and forth with comparative terms, Moore examines how words are used and the way people respond to them in each country.

Both funny and smart, That’s Not English is perfect for any word nerd, especially those with a soft spot for bits of trivia.


between you & me
Between You & Me by Mary Norris
Published by W.W. Norton on April 6th, 2015 
Source: Publisher 
Pages: 240
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For over three decades, Mary Norris has wielded her pencil as a “Comma Queen” for The New Yorker. In this cross between memoir and guidebook, Norris takes readers through her years at The New Yorker while highlighting some of the most important grammar lessons she learned along the way.

For me, the book’s highlight was Norris’s discussion of authors who refused to have their grammar corrected in order to protect their voice. She shares examples from authors like James Salter and George Saunders, which makes for a fascinating look at how grammar rules can bend to create beautifully crafted sentences.

A book like this is difficult to recommend across the board, however, as each reader will be looking for something different. Experienced grammarians may find the guidelines somewhat elementary and find peeking at the life of an editor to be interesting, while others may see the opposite.

  • Yes, to both of them. Love me some grammar! But seriously, I do.

  • Lindsey Stefan

    I adore this post, Shannon, Word nerds always and forever.
    I’m excited to read about those curmudgeonly authors…I mean authors who stick to their guns…I mean authors who uphold their own unique styles. :) They say you have to know the rules of grammar to break them right?

  • Books on the Table

    I’m a proud word nerd — and I LOVED Between You & Me. I enjoyed it more than any thriller or suspense novel! That’s Not English sounds terrific — I’m going to pick that one up ASAP.

  • I’m interested in the reasons behind the rules — and in ways they can and should be broken. These both sound great!

    • It was really interesting to see her break down why she thought the authors broke the rules and have them confirm her suspicions.

  • I am definitely a grammar junkie. My favorite part of teaching Latin is the grammar and my students always say it helps them with English vocab. and grammar.

  • I’ve had both of these on my list for a while, with Between You & Me intriguing me a bit more. As a rule-breaker when writing (hell, I’ve been known to make up words that are grammatically incorrect; did it in a post just today), I’m solidly behind those authors who stay true to their voice, rules be damned, so I’m super curious to read that portion of BY&M. Thanks for spelling out a bit more what’s inside these tomes of grammar goodness, Shannon!

    • I’m the same way with writing and I’m SO glad both the authors she points to (who I happen to love) have decided to fight the power a bit.

  • I feel like That’s Not English would be pretty funny; one of my (multiple) work bosses is from Belfast, Ireland and did not visit the U.S. until 1993. His take on “our” English is always amusing and he remains constantly befuddled by some of the phrases we use. Have a great weekend, Shannon!

  • Alex (Sleepless Reader)

    I’m really interested
    in reading That’s Not English. As a non-native English speaker who does
    communications in English for a living, the whole American vs. English spelling is a real pain in
    the neck.

    • You’re right! There’s a ton that’s a pain and the book does a good job pointing many of those things out.

  • I have to read That’s Not English. As a Brit in the US raising my kids here I’m always being corrected by them for not only spelling but pronunciation. I’ll always come out with words that noone has a clue what I am talking about either, my coworkers are often fascinated with some of the words I say or just the way I say it. I think I would really enjoy reading this one :)

  • Jennine G.

    I have the first one, but Between You and Me sounds just as wonderful! Thanks for bringing such great nonfiction to light!

  • I loved That’s Not English, and Between You & Me sounds like a fun read!

  • Mystica

    New to me so I liked your reviews.

  • I’ve got That’s Not English in my (too-large) Readathon stack; you’ve got me convinced I should be adding Between You & Me as well.

  • I get that reaction once in a while. Fling out aa big word and … ;) (more fun bec I’m not a native English speaker hahaha)

  • It does sound really interesting to hear stories about authors who won’t take punctuation edits for stylistic reasons. Was she able to find the middle ground with them?

  • I hadn’t heard of Between You and Me yet, but it sounds fun! I’m sure I could benefit from a reminder of some basic grammar and the editing part of the story sounds fascinating to me. Since starting blogging, I’ve become very curious about the publishing world.

  • That’s Not English sounds like tons of fun. I have a very soft spot for learning the origins of idioms and slang, so this one sounds particularly up my alley. :)

  • That’s Not English is near the top of my list! I’ve been eyeballing it fairly frequently, lately.

  • It seems the Mary Norris book would be an entertaining read. I was a copyeditor at a newspaper … and think how she dealt with the authors might be fun to hear. Thanks. This is on my TBR list.