Anyone who wants to become a better writer will love this book by Noah Lukeman — A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006). It is beautifully written, engaging, helpful, and concise. Punctuation is not so much a science as it is an art. Each decision is relative, but that doesn’t mean it’s thoughtless — at least it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s a taste from the Introduction (pp. 13-14):
“This book will offer a fresh look at punctuation: as an art form. Punctuation is often discussed as a convenience, as a way of facilitating what you want to say. Rarely is it pondered as a medium for artistic expression, as a means of impacting the content—not in a pedantic way, but in the most profound way, where it achieves symbiosis with the narration, style, viewpoint, and even the plot itself…. There is an underlying rhythm to all text. Sentences crash and fall like the waves of the sea, and work unconsciously on the reader. Punctuation is the music of language.”