Between You & Me

Between You & Me

Confessions of A Comma Queen

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in The New Yorker 's copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.

Between You & Me features Norris's laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage--comma faults, danglers, "who" vs. "whom," "that" vs. "which," compound words, gender-neutral language--and her clear explanations of how to handle them. Down-to-earth and always open-minded, she draws on examples from Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and the Lord's Prayer, as well as from The Honeymooners , The Simpsons , David Foster Wallace, and Gillian Flynn. She takes us to see a copy of Noah Webster's groundbreaking Blue-Back Speller, on a quest to find out who put the hyphen in Moby-Dick , on a pilgrimage to the world's only pencil-sharpener museum, and inside the hallowed halls of The New Yorker and her work with such celebrated writers as Pauline Kael, Philip Roth, and George Saunders.

Readers--and writers--will find in Norris neither a scold nor a softie but a wise and witty new friend in love with language and alive to the glories of its use in America, even in the age of autocorrect and spell-check. As Norris writes, "The dictionary is a wonderful thing, but you can't let it push you around."

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780393240184
Characteristics: 228 pages ;,22 cm.
Alternative Title: Between you and me


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 08, 2017

Just finished this excellent 2015 book, and would recommend it to all former English majors like me. If you love words and appreciate correct grammar, add this book to your list. It fits in nicely with "Eats, Shoots & Leaves," by Lynne Truss (2003) and "Woe Is I," by Patricia T. O'Conner (1996). The only problem with Mary Norris's book is that she spends a later chapter extolling the virtues of Palomino Blackwing 602 pencils and KUM long-point manual sharpeners. She uses soft pencils in her work as a copy editor, and I became so enamored with her description of the Blackwings that I bought a dozen—for $22! Plus a KUM sharpener for $7.50! $32.28 later, I managed to extricate myself from, and I don't even use pencils! Such was the power of her writing. It's a good book.

Oct 02, 2016

This book by a copy editor at "The New Yorker" is a memoir in which she also addresses the errors in spelling, punctuation and usage that she finds most irksome. There is a little too much about usage at "The New Yorker" which deviates from the norm. Somewhat disappointing.

Mar 31, 2016

Great read - intelligently hilarious!

Mar 21, 2016

I first met the Comma Queen via a YouTube video. I appreciated both her straight forward approach to grammar and her sense of humor. This also comes across in her book Between You and Me, which besides discussing important grammatical concepts, tells her personal story from a dairy truck driver to a copy editor for the New Yorker magazine.

CoreneBee Dec 24, 2015

Possibly the funniest book you will read about copy editing and comma usage.

Dec 06, 2015

An enjoyable read for grammar and word junkies. Also, an interesting insight to the editing process at a big publication.

Oct 03, 2015

This was such a great book. I checked it out intending to read it in order to learn a bit more about advanced grammar rules. However, I found myself lost in the author's prose. I've always loved words and word structure, and Norris's writing renewed the more intense love for words that I'd lost in this age of technology taking short cuts with written language "rules". This is a book I intend to check out again when I have more time to brew a cup of tea and sit for hours reading and losing myself in the words of her book. If you are a bibliophile, I highly recommend this book for you to also enjoy.

Sep 01, 2015

A book about grammar, usage and punctuation that is often "laugh out loud" funny and difficult to put down? You must be kidding. But I'm not. Anyone who has ever written anything intended to be read by more than one person has agonized over each of the issues this New Yorker editor raises.

Mardian Aug 18, 2015

Mary Norris starts well, but the descent into grammatical hell is fairly steep. By the time we get to her sophomoric discourse on profanity, the game is over. AND it then descends further into an extended treatise on pencils. As she says so ofter, "Get a life, Mary."

Jun 09, 2015

Author Mary Norris uses three decades of her experience as a copy editor for the New Yorker to discuss the origins and evolution of punctuation. Some sections of this book were laugh out loud funny and some were very informative (who knew there was such a thing as the Apostrophe Protection Society?) However much of this book is rather dry, as you might expect a book on punctuation to be.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Jul 18, 2016

“I would never disable spell-check. That would be hubris. Autocorrect I could do without.”

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top