New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris's 'Between You and Me' has 'wit, sass, and smarts'

Already half-asleep when you hear about a guide to grammar and punctuation? Reviewers say Norris's book is 'sprightly' and 'laugh-out-loud' funny.

'Between You and Me' is by Mary Norris.

Most readers perhaps wouldn’t use the word “fun” when describing a guide to grammar and punctuation. 

But the book “Between You and Me” by New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris (subtitle: “Confessions of a Comma Queen”) is not only earning positive reviews, it’s being praised for being accessible and enjoyable to read. “Between” is being released on April 6.

Norris noted in an interview with The New York Times that despite all best efforts, a few errors did slip in. “Of course I wanted the book to be perfect,” she said, “because it would look very bad if it wasn’t.” 

The book was named as one of Amazon’s best books of April, with Amazon editorial director Sara Nelson saying of the book, “[Norris] doesn't make anybody feel bad…. She just talks about punctuation like it was your neighbors..... [S]he's just adorable.” Barnes & Noble staff agreed with the positive assessment, giving it “editor’s recommendation” status and calling it “sprightly … pleasantly spiced with personal stories and strolls down the history of language lane ... [and] educating entertainment.” 

The book has also received other positive reviews, with both Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal giving it starred reviews. Florida International University Library staffer Gricel Dominguez wrote for LJ, “Thoughtful and humorous…. engaging and entertaining…. Her rules are easy to follow, and her writing fast paced and smart, making this a great read for anyone interested in a refresher course on the elements of style. This is not your grade school primer; expect wisecracks and pointed commentary on the many ways in which we embarrass ourselves while trying to sound grammatically superior.” Meanwhile, KR found the book to be “educational [and] entertaining…. Norris delivers a host of unforgettable anecdotes about … famed New Yorker writers…. countless laugh-out-loud passages.” 

Publishers Weekly noted in its review that “the New Yorker has an unconventional house style” so “though Norris doesn’t always agree with its strict style rules, readers may not agree with her ideas on language.” However, the publication found the book to be “delightful…. Norris writes well – with wit, sass, and smarts.”

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