Saturday, May 8, 2010

Redux #28 - "Things That Make Us [sic]" by Martha Brockenbrough

I'm finally finished, but it took me a ridiculously long time to read Things That Make Us [sic] (2008) by Martha Brockenbrough. The main reason for my drastic slow-down is that I'm back working full-time again. I'm also commuting to downtown Denver and back, so my free time has drastically diminished, and it's been a rather painful transition. I'm doing lawyerly-type contract work at the moment, which is a little tedious, but they get catered lunch for the entire firm and buy me a bus pass, so I'm content enough for now. My ultimate goal is still to become a firefighter, so I if I can somehow get into a summer EMT class, I'll really have no time left to read. (I also need to learn Spanish somewhere in there as well). The other reason this book took forever to read is that I didn't really like it. I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't already read at least three grammar books, or if I didn't feel so busy and distracted while starting a new job. I do know that I would recommend Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing before Things That Make Us [sic].

I can imagine people with the same sense of humor, or people who just get Martha Brockenbrough could really enjoy this book. It didn't work for me. Too much of the book was trying to be clever, and there weren't enough explanations that clearly explain grammar rules and good writing. I didn't need to read tons of witty letters to celebrities, picked on for their poor speaking and writing. I also had no interest in reading blog or tweeter posts from Paris Hilton or Courtney Love. Their writing is atrocious; reading it--even corrected--is much more painful than helpful. Brockenbrough also made a number of political comments, mostly against Bush. Of course, I completely agreed with her sentiment, but they seemed out of place in a grammar book. Add to that the fact that Bush is too easy of a target and he's really not even pertinent anymore, and her mentions of Bush veered towards the annoying. Having no extra time these days and always being exhausted by my adjustment to a normal work schedule, I had no patience for people and pop culture that I have no interest in.

I have no doubt that Brockenbrough thoroughly understands her subject matter, and I did learn some things, but I did not find her to be a clear writer or teacher. Many of the rules she discusses I wouldn't have understood if I hadn't already learned them somewhere else. Instead of clear examples and explanations, there are lists of words that I'm never going to remember and facetious letters to famous people that come across as somewhat obnoxious. Although this book wasn't horrible and those with a similar sense of humor to Brockenbrough might love it, I was glad when I finally finished it.

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