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Publisher's Summary

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 audiobook as full of life as it is of practical advice. Between You & Me features Norris' laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage - comma faults, danglers, "who" versus "whom", "that" versus "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.

©2015 Mary Norris (P)2015 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fun book for those who love language

Where does Between You and Me rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It was great. I read the New Yorker and appreciate its outstanding quality. It was fun to hear from someone who was so integral to the quality of the magazine and its content.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Between You and Me?

When Norris describes some of her more famous co-workers and bosses and how their particular strengths worked together to make the New Yorker the magazine that it is. I also enjoyed hearing about the Pencil Sharpener Museum.

Which scene was your favorite?

When she describes her problems in getting #2 pencils and trying mechanical pencils and other types of pencils. She is a true connoisseur and I loved it.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

No sure.

Any additional comments?

This is a quirky book about a quirky subject but can be enjoyed by anyone who cares about good writing and quality work.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I smiled through the whole thing

What did you love best about Between You and Me?

She is absolutely engaging. She understands the issues completely, and writes well about them without making anything into life or death. Almost tongue in cheek. I can't imagine that many people would find this all that fascinating. But I did. I'm nervous about my punctuation.

30 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • Winston Salem, NC, United States
  • 04-24-15

Surprisingly hilarious

Mary Norris is very funny, both as a writer and a reader. While the book is mostly about stuff like pluperfect subjunctive gerund clauses and such, her hilarious asides were what I most enjoyed. I had to skip over much of the chapter about crude language, but was rewarded in the following wonderful chapter about pencils, the only downside being that it cost me a $40 order of Blackwing pencils.

This is a book that I will enjoy hearing again.

34 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Laugh-out-loud funny and informative.

I learned things I never knew. I now understand things I had memorized but never really could explain. I gained much appreciation for and greater willingness to be curious about grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, meaning, and usage. I need to buy the paper version for reference. Her voice and delivery were exceptional. I laughed out loud more times than I can recall and that doesn't happen often and rarely, if ever, for a book on grammar.

27 of 33 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I am a writer.

As a writer, I enjoyed all of the grammar geekiness. I also enjoyed her office supply geekiness. Decent story, real good grammar information. I found it useful to put the narration on 1.25 speed as she is rather slow.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Most Valuable Deal of the Day Ever!

I absolutely loved this, and like a previous reviewer, I smiled through the whole thing. For grammar, usage, vocabulary, and punctuation geeks like me, especially any who are already fans of the New Yorker and literature generally, this will be a big treat. Mary Norris is wicked smart and funny, and once you get accustomed to her gravelly Marge Simpson voice, you'll become truly enamored of her slow, deliberate, hilarious narration. My only caveats are: 1.) The chapter on apostrophes doesn't really work as an audiobook (I bought the Kindle version also, so that I could better absorb the humor in chapters like that one that have a strong visual component), and 2.) The final chapter, on pencils and pencil sharpeners, is a tad boring, even for a total nerd like me.

Nonetheless, I'm positive I will listen to this one many more times. This was certainly a few dollars VERY well spent. Grade: A++

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Title is the best part

Daily Deal and title got me but the book lost me. Proof yet again that authors should not be allowed to read their own work. Pace and expression are flat and self important. Bet there may be some useful stuff in there but gave up as the authors biographical history--job to job, name dropping goes on and on and on and on....
(I am sure my use of grammar will appall the author.)

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Connie
  • Elliston, MT, United States
  • 10-13-15

Between you and me, this is an entertaining book

Oh, dear, oh, dear, I thought as I began Mary Norris’s “Between You and Me.” Her reading was too slow, too deliberate, and there was too much pause between some sentences and paragraphs. But now I know it would’ve been too bad to have missed this charming usage guide and memoir hybrid.
If reading and writing are like oxygen in your life, this audio book is well worth tolerating the different drummer rhythm of the reading. As I continued, either Norris improved as a reader, or I improved as a listener. By the final third, I swear I could hear the twinkle in her eye. I’ve read many memoirs by comedians that weren’t nearly as funny as this.

(Does anyone else deeply resent, as I do, being compelled to fill in the star ratings in order to do a review? It feels like the insipid Facebook thumbs-up and it's annoying when you're willing to take the time to articulate a real opinion.)

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Should have been narrated by a professional

What did you like best about Between You and Me? What did you like least?

This book was marred by the uneven and sometimes annoying reading by the author. I felt like I had to struggle through her endless talk about herself to get to a few little nuggets of word usage advice. It did have some interesting stories, but I was unable to finish it.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

For a grammar enthusiast

You have to be a grammar enthusiast to enjoy this book. My favorite part was about the serial comma (the comma before the "and" in a series of items). The author rants about the serial comma also being called the Oxford comma. Why does Oxford get all the credit? The same university that gave us the eponymous shirt with the button-down collar and the androgynous laced-up shoes. Why not the Harvard comma? Or the Rutgers comma? Or the Cornhuskers comma? There are many stories about the minutiae of grammar, writing, and writers/editors. There is an entire chapter about No. 1 pencils -- softer than the No. 2 and increasingly difficult to find. The author goes on many adventures to acquire the No. 1 before her stash runs out. She finds other like-minded individuals willing to pay an exorbitant amount for the rarified No. 1.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful