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Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?, Henry Alford


I had no idea that this book would be so funny, although I suppose the title should have given me a clue. For example, these two lines: “We are, all of us, every day, adding to the Wikipedia entry for humanity. We are, all of us, eternally, inheriting and bequeathing the toilet seat” (27). With good humor and funny anecdotes, Alford argues that “contrary to popular opinion, manners are not a luxury good that’s interesting only to those who can afford to think about them… to practice good manners is to confer upon others not just consideration but esteem” (32). And in later chapters, he relates the foibles of brides and wedding etiquette, takes it upon himself to draft replies to the letters sent to advice columns, and contemplates dinner party small talk.

As someone who works daily with a wide variety of mannered persons, there were plenty of familiar sounding complaints and stories in this book. This is a fun read and is great to help take the edge off of the persistently rude and annoying people that you encounter.

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