I'm pretty sure I somehow stumbled on Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (2008) by Mignon Fogarty when I was on Amazon.com. My grammar education has been rather spotty, and I've realized that my consistent reliance on guessing, and learning by osmosis through extensive reading doesn't always work. I'd like to really know and understand the rules and always write and speak correctly, but those huge grammar and style books are so intimidating and dry; Grammar Girl is very much like Eats, Shoots, and Leaves in that it is a short, easy-to-read guide that clears up a lot of common errors and vague rules about the English language.
Partly because I only have a little time before I have to go and lose my internet connection and partly because I don't feel it's necessary to go into too much detail on a grammar and usage book, I'll keep this short. Fogarty apparently started out the "Grammar Girl Empire" with a series of podcasts that immediately became very popular. Her style is clear and practical, which I really appreciate. She will discuss what the actual rule is and why, what people actually do in real life, whether there is controversy, and what she recommends. Sometimes she even breaks down what each usage books recommends, which I found very helpful. I feel more confident in following The Chicago Manual of Style than something like Dictionary.com. A lot of the topics, I already knew, but because it was so gratifying to go over a rule I already knew, I certainly didn't mind. And you never know when you'll come across a gaping hole in your education. Fogarty discussed about the pronunciation of "the." "The" is pronounced "thuh" when the next word begins with a consonant-sound and is pronounced "thee" when the next word starts with a vowel-sound. I had never heard that rule before in my life, even though once I started thinking about it, I realized that I do usually follow it.
Fogarty covers some common mistakes people make with words, such as less v. fewer (something I needed to learn); further v. farther; good v. well; hanged v. hung; and others before she quickly goes into the major rules on punctuation, capitalization, pronouns, the Internet, and some style tips. Her tone is friendly and practical and she avoids sounding anal or picky. It was easy to read and I liked the way she explained her reasoning behind her writing choices. I almost wish I had bought this one instead of borrowing it from the library because I know I'll want to look something up again, but enough will stay with me to have made it worthwhile. I did start listening to one of the Grammar Girl podcasts out of curiosity, but I found it kind of difficult to listen to, so I found the book medium much more helpful.