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Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette Paperback – Bargain Price, May 26, 2009

ISBN-10: 0805088776 Edition: First Edition
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Abraham’s antidote for the deterioration of modern etiquette is elegantly simple…. This etiquette manual is winningly fueled by common sense, flexibility, and a consistent emphasis on mutual respect.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Far beyond the usual ‘where-does-the-nut-spoon-go?’… simple etiquette just doesn’t cut it anymore…. [Miss Conduct’s Mind Over Manners] is more rumination than rules, and Abrahams is as likely to quote Edith Wharton as she is to cite the wisdom of Ali G.”—The Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Witty as well as perceptive, [Abrahams] keeps the tone agreeably light as she dispenses practical advice on social interaction in an increasingly diverse and fragmented society…. Sensible counsel and etiquette for survival in our post-Emily times.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch


About the Author

Robin Abrahams is the “Miss Conduct” columnist for The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and writes the “Socially Scientific” column for the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research. A research associate at Harvard Business School, she has also worked as a stand-up comedian and holds a doctorate in psychology. She and her husband, Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; First Edition edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805088776
  • ASIN: B005FOIAQ2
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,221,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Carol C. VINE VOICE on March 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Wow -- this isn't just an etiquette book; it's an everything book. While advising the reader on how to navigate contemporary social quandaries, the author sails smoothly from topic to topic -- neurobiology to sociology, philosophy to economics -- with tremendous wit and grace. This book is informative, culturally sensitive, and makes liberal use of relevant quotes (from diverse sources ranging from Shakespeare to Adam Smith to Mark Twain) and reference to pop culture (Wallace & Grommit, Gilligan's Island). Even the footnotes are educational and entertaining!

The book is organized as follows:
Introduction -- the author talks about our increasing cultural diversity and homogeneity -- though we're exposed to more different groups, we increasingly stick to our own kind; we connect with, live in communities with, and talk to, like minded folks. We avoid topics on which we disagree. And we think we're very busy, too busy for niceties like writing thank you notes. For all of these reasons, we're not as polite as we used to be.

First chapter -- food -- and not simply which fork to use or how to hold your wine glass at a cocktail party. The author addresses "food rules" -- vegetarian, kosher, halal, food allergies, and assorted other eating restrictions. Portion size and perceptions of masculinity, her own evolving relationship with Ramen noodles.

Second chapter -- money -- why over 90% of Americans call themselves "middle class," how to be a rich friend or a poor friend, splitting restaurant tabs, when it is okay to give $$ as a gift (a gift of money "means `I can't figure you out'" . . . , and teens and young adults "take it as the highest compliment to be considered unreadable by their elders").
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How do you deal politely with someone of a different religion? Or no religion at all? How do you discuss careers with a stay-at-home mom? What do you say to a person in a wheel-chair? A fat person? A childless person? A vegetarian? A person with peanut allergy? These and many other questions are addressed in this delightful slim volume. But you won't find THE ANSWERS. For this is not the traditional etiquette book. Rather it's a book of thoughtful principles. How to comport yourself in a post-tribal society, where EVERYONE is deserving of respect?

Yes, that's the world we live in now, in the twenty-first century. A world where everyone is deserving of respect--at least in theory. And no one is automatically despised, no matter their ancestry, customs, religion, diet, whatever. It's a remarkable new world indeed, a pluralistic world where the rules haven't all been sorted out. Sometimes you just don't know what to say.

Author Robin Abrahams writes in a clever, lighthearted way, sharing personal experiences as well as drawing on her Miss Conduct columns to guide us through the minefields of this daunting new social universe. She doesn't give us a set of simple rules, rather she offers some commonsense principles to guide us. You may not agree with everything she says, but if you let her, she will get you to thinking. I must admit, the book is sometimes slow going, because it deals with difficult and touchy situations. I had to stop often to think about what I had just read. If you can read it with an open mind you will love it. I recommend it but it's not light reading. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary S. on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was hoping for a revamped, indexed, how-to etiquette book. This is not in that format, at all. It is more of a funny look at etiquette, not a how-to. I do not find it easy to reference, so it serves little purpose as a reference etiquette book, but I believe that many people will enjoy reading this book for the humor, not as a guide to manners.

Based on the above, people probably wonder why I would give this 4 stars. Well, it is a funny, insightful book and even though it wasn't what I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and suspect most people will, too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson VINE VOICE on June 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lately I've become interested in etiquette books to polish up my rough edges. While looking for interpersonal first-aid, I stumbled upon "Miss Conduct's Mind Over Manners", which promises to help one "master the slippery rules of modern ethics and etiquette." That bold statement grabbed my eye so I placed an order to Amazon and hoped for the best. I'm glad to say that I was not disappointed, despite the dearth of insight on a subject I wanted help with.

Robin Abrahams cranks out an etiquette column for The Boston Globe Magazine, and she's compiled her expertise into this interesting and informative book. She provides good common-sense guidelines written conversationally vs. bullet-point rules set in stone. Her writing style is easy to read, and she has a self-deprecating manner that's humorous and comforting. Thankfully, she avoids the trap of sounding like a haughty dispenser of rigid methodologies in favor of advocating reasonable and relatable behavioral standards.

Each chapter focuses on navigating an aspect of etiquette such as religious differences, health issues, romantic relationships, and dietary choices. Topical questions from various folks are sprinkled throughout the book and are thoughtfully answered by Ms. Abrahams. However, if you only read one chapter, make sure it's the last one. The seven listed principles are the bedrock of the author's material, and they are useful as general guidelines when one encounters awkward and confusing social situations. Indeed, it might have been better to have this chapter at the beginning to provide context for everything else.

Despite this book's impressive load of useful social guidance, I was let down by the lack of substantive etiquette information concerning online romance.
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