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Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette First Edition Edition
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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.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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").Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is only one reader's opinion...
This style of book (rules for this and that) seems to be holding in popularity. Read more
Yes it's the 21st century, but for many of us, etiquette and ethics are not dead subjects. A little dose of reality TV might make you think otherwise. Read morePublished on April 18, 2012 by J. Moore
Robin Abrahams tackles issues that leave us sometimes baffled and uncertain. Sometimes I wish someone would just write a list of do's & don'ts but it's helpful to have some... Read morePublished on November 22, 2010 by Deborah Crawford
This is the first book that has moved me to write a review on Amazon.
Witty, wise, and warm, this book is helpful not merely because it provides clever strategies, but... Read more
The author provides good common-sense guidelines written conversationally vs. rigid, unbending rules. Read morePublished on January 22, 2010 by S. J Parker
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, as it handles so many new etiquette situations of modern life that aren't covered in traditional books. I liked her advise in most cases too. Read morePublished on October 15, 2009 by scolvig
This book is great. It covers the gamut of subjects ranging from Food, Money, Religion, Sex and Relationships, Children, Health, and Pets. It is a real easy read and Ms. Read morePublished on September 23, 2009 by Chris The Technologist
The advice in this book is funny and smart and warm and kind. With arguments that draw from science, psychology and thousands of letters seeking the author's advice, this book... Read morePublished on September 15, 2009 by A. D. Hoskins
Etiquette does not exist in a vacuum. While there are common-sense rules that apply, but it remains a primarily elusive and forgotten art, that of social interactions. Read morePublished on August 20, 2009 by Adrian Black