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Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World Hardcover – October 14, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Martha Brockenbrough is hilarious.” ―June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies

“A smart, up-to-the-minute take on the world of words that's funny and sometimes even bawdy.” ―Bill Walsh, author of Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style

“From her founding of the hilariously named SPOGG (Society for the Protection of Good Grammar) to her diligently penned correction letters, Martha Brockenbrough delights grammar mavens while inducing giggles. She's a tidal wave of grammar fun.” ―Mignon Fogarty, author of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

“Grammar mavens should rejoice at the appearance of this collection of nifty facts about language. I read it straight through in one sitting!” ―Grant Barrett, co-host of KPBS Radio's "A Way With Words" and author of The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English

“Do you ever feel badly or get nauseous? Things That Make Us [Sic] will cure you of those maladies and make you feel properly bad and nauseated about sloppy grammar, usage, and punctuation. It will also give you a generous dose of that best medicine: laughter. With winsome humor and humility, Martha Brockenbrough shows us how to choose language that is clear, precise, and unaffected. She also reminds us, inter alia, that 'irregardless is an irregular word, just as underwear is an irregular hat.'” ―Charles Harrington Elster, author of Verbal Advantage and What in the Word?

“'Grammar' and 'glamour' have the same derivation: an old Scottish word meaning 'sorcery.' So, good grammar is not merely a glamorous antidote to creeping meatballism, it has the power of the black arts behind it. Martha Brockenbrough is hip to these secrets.” ―Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Villa Incongnito, and Skinny Legs and All

About the Author

Martha Brockenbrough is the founder of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, as well as a writer for Encarta.com and the former editor-in-chief of MSN.com. She is the author of It Could Happen to You and lives in Seattle with her family.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312378084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312378080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #566,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David M. Giltinan on November 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like a one-woman vigilante, Martha Brockenbrough* exposes assorted crimes against the English language and offers crisp, witty advice on spelling, grammar, and usage to the offenders. Her favored tactic is the open letter, wherein she points out the mistakes in (gently) mocking fashion, then goes on to suggest remedies. All with infinitely greater wit than Lynne Truss, in this reviewer's opinion.

Her point of view is stated with admirable clarity on page 3:

"It is time for those of us who love and respect our language to take it back. Clear, grammatical communication is society's foundation. It is what helps us understand and be understood. If we let that bedrock crumble from neglect, or if we actively chip away at it in a misguided fit of anti-intellectualism, then we run the risk of watching the world around us collapse."

Ms Brockenbrough covers familiar terrain, efficiently and entertainingly, in ten chapters (250 pages):

Grammar for spammers and pop stars.
Vizzinis, Evil Twins, and Vampires.
You Put a Spell on Me.
Vulgar Latin and Latin Lovers.
$%&*#$ Punctuation
No, You Can't Has Cheezburger? The Parts of Speech and How Sentences Form.
Things that Make Us Tense.
Cliches - why Shakespeare is a Pox Upon Us.
The Enemy Within - Flab, Jargon, and the People in your Office.
Rules that Never Were, are no More, and Should be Broken.

Whether taking David Hasselhoff to task for describing his life story as 'heart-rendering' or enumerating all 21 errors in Congressman Mark Foley's now-infamous erotic text message to a congressional page ("the word is not spelled 'buldge'; 'one-eyed snake' needs a hyphen; 'hand job' has only one a"), Martha Brockenbrough is never less than entertaining.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Martha Brockenbrough has produced a book that marries grammar with humor in a most delightful way. She addresses common language stumbling stones such as evil twins, cliches, jargon, and flab and offers all the spelling tips, hints, and rules that are fit to print. It is hugely entertaining, with letters to high-profile language abusers, including David Hasselhoff, George W. Bush, and Canada's Maple Leafs [sic], as well as a letter to -- and a reply from -- Her Majesty, the Queen of England.
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Format: Hardcover
Most grammar reference books are dry and serious, but THINGS THAT MAKE US [sic] is both instructional and entertaining. It's a quick read and a handy reference. I recommend it to anyone who writes for a living, and to folks like me who just like good grammar.
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I'm a writer by profession and a grammar instructor, too. I urge all writers to keep a copy of this book at their desks. Not only is it humorous and concise, it's well organized for a grammar reference. I don't know the author personally, but I follow her SPOGG blog. Her grammar tips are worth bookmarking, too. ([...])
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Format: Hardcover
I like hamburgers and I now like grammar. I have always loved hamburgers, but not so much grammar. Hamburgers, at least good ones, are juicy and delicious. Grammar, was for me, dry and boring. Now that I'm older, my hips are wider and my writing, thin. So what is an overweight reader to do? Eat less burgers and consume more grammar. (Yeah, this is bad, but dinner is coming up and it's the best I've got.)

To get to the point, I've been on a quest to consume delicious books on grammar. Hold the pompous tomato and the dry lettuce, please. What I need is something meaty and flavorful: something that tastes good going in and sustains me after I've finished. Did `Things That Make Us [sic]' achieve that? Sort of.

Martha Brockenbrough, the author of [sic], gave me a lot of meat to chew and digest. I have no doubt that I'll be coming back to her book for a repeat course. And like most good meals, I found her company enjoyable--even laughing on several occasions. But for my taste buds, the bread was too much.

Each chapter offers funny examples of poor grammar construction, followed by a fictitious multi-page letter, addressed to the grammar offender. There was some humor in these letters, but again, too much bread for my liking. The follow-up writing of the chapter is where Brockenbrough showed her grammar kitchen prowess, cooking up the perfect blend of seasoning and meat.
In my opinion, you'd be better served at the Grammar Girl café (where I found the recommendation for [sic]), but for my fellow grammar aficionado, you'll still find plenty of satisfaction with this menu.

I'll give my dining experience four stars: great meat with some references to keep on the shelf, but a bit too much of that fluffy bread.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got dinner to make.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an awesome way to look at grammar! I wish I had this book in high school or even jr. high. Grammar was tough - because it was so bloody boring. This book is a handy reference that I keep on my desk now. As a professional reviewer, I wish I could send it out to all the authors whose work I have to wade through. I would recommend this book to anyone; though especially the high school or jr. high student in your life that hates (and struggles through) grammar. It's never too early or too late to find a love for good grammar.
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