Book Reviews

What do readers and reviewers say about Zen Comma?

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(PDF and Kindle, $2.99)

Master the Mysteries of Commas, by Tori S. ( reviewer)
There are several things I enjoyed about this book. First, it’s short and simple. This is a book on the purpose of commas, and how the correct and incorrect placement can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Second, the author gives examples of not only correct usage, but also incorrect usage, for each rule and clear explanations why each is right or wrong. Third, the book is arranged to easily find a rule again to reference when needed. And lastly, I find it very useful that he discusses different style rules (like AP, Oxford, and Harvard) which is important for writers to know. It’s a valuable reference for teachers and writers. For writers without a degree in English, this may be one of the easier ways for you to master the mysteries of commas.

User-friendly, affordable grammar resource, by Carol U. ( reviewer)
Bowman divides his text into 17 short chapters of one or two pages each. Each chapter focuses on a different use of the comma, including the much-misunderstood serial comma (Chapter 1), commas with appositives (Chapter 5), and commas with which and who (Chapter 10). A Zen theme runs throughout the book, largely hinged on Koans, or meditative points on comma usage. The Koans provide a different way for the reader to think about the material presented and the author explains each Koan in depth at the end of the ebook.

Thirty-five comma exercises (and an answer key) are available for those who want to test their understanding of the material. Bowman also provides a two-page summary of comma rules, which will come in handy for those who understand the material and just need a little reminder.

The page format, with its multiplicity of font sizes and styles, was the only (very small) fault I found with this ebook. The brisk writing carries the reader quickly through the text, only to trip over Rules and Koans, which may have been better placed at the beginning or end of the chapters. Whether you read it front to back or dip in quickly for a how-to reference, Zen Comma is user-friendly, accessible, affordable grammar resource.

Recommended, By Oliver L. ( reviewer)
As a professional linguist, I am delighted that there is a book that gives the subject of commas its rightful importance. Zen Comma is well-organised, visually clean and attractive, consistent, comprehensive and clearly explained. It takes a cheerful and straightforward approach that may be especially suitable for pedagogical applications. And its few defects (writers aspiring to a more advanced style may occasionally find it rigid; some matters of taste are presented as issues of right/wrong; and the blanket use of the serial comma has no real consensus and can actually be incorrect, as in “I love my father, Elvis, and God,” suggesting that Elvis is my father) are outweighed by its many benefits.

Finally, a book dedicated to commas, by Simone ( reviewer)
It’s not difficult to find a book on English grammar, but it’s quite a challenge to find one that deals with commas – exclusively. David Bowman has filled this void with his “Zen Comma”. In 17 chapters, he explains all the fundamental rules, provides examples, and points out the traps that unskilled comma users might step into. While I consider myself to be “in the know” when it comes to commas, it’s still very useful to have this little guide on my shelf. Commas can be mean little bitches if you don’t know how to handle them. :-) 5 stars well deserved.

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