Some books just tickle my funny bone while at the same time teach me what a buffoon I am. The following two books did exactly that! On the one hand, I feel a strong urge to purchase these two books and give them as gifts to several people that I know. On the other hand, after having read these books, I know that that would be socially unacceptable. Still, the temptation does exist, I cannot deny it!
Raise your hand if you know a socially awkward or inept individual! Raise your hand if YOU are the socially awkward person! Raise your hand if you have kids or students that never think to say please and thank you and fail to look you in the eye when speaking! Any and/or all of you might be in need of these two books on manners.
I read these books in succession and I do feel like they compliment each other well. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you really can’t read one book without the other. They each have something unique to offer. I started by reading Socially Smart in 60 Seconds (Harvest House publishers). This book is an extremely quick read (hence the “60 seconds” mentioned in the title). It is 152 pages long but the book is small and the sentences well-spaced so that you can read the book in about an hour’s time frame. Author Deborah Smith Pegues is a former Fortune 500 VP and she offers quick tips and instructions on how you can be socially successful. The basis for her advice is found in Matthew 7:12 which says, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (i.e., follow the golden rule). Pegues highlights a variety of areas where the American population generally lacks in the etiquette department, including the use of cell phones (are you cheering as loudly as I am?), air travel etiquette, how to have a home office image as well as how to make small talk and how to network with other people. This book is more business minded but good for anyone to read who makes a regular habit of walking out their front door. Seriously, people.
The second book I read on etiquette is Protocol Matters (Canon Press). This book is definitely a more indepth study and look at why protocol matters. (Very conveniently titled book.) Author Sandra Boswell operates the protocol curriculum at school up in Moscow, Idaho. She teaches etiquette to jr. high and high school students. This book carefully lays out the reasoning behind teaching children while they are young how to behave in public. Boswell is a Christian and builds her argument with scripture.
Protocol training . . . is a primary step in learning to be faithful in real, daily actions. Almost every Christian is familiar with the commands “Honor all people” (1 Pet. 2:17) and “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil. 2:3). Of course, learning to put these commands into consistent practice can be challenging, but protocol training is an effective tool in making such considerate behavior a part of Christian life.” (page 11)
Boswell makes some strong arguments as to why it is important to learn good etiquette. If I were rewording what she said it would look something like this: “The world does not revolve around you. Note that! Sometimes it’s about someone else.” A worthy reminder and a good message.
She makes a reasonable argument that if we fail to practice good manners, we will end up practicing bad ones, frequently making those around us uncomfortable to miserable (or at the very least, feeling very dishonored). She says on pages 13-14:
C.S. Lewis once noted, in a discussion about choosing reading matter, that life doesn’t have optional voids: “If you don’t read good books, you will read bad ones. If you don’t go on thinking rationally, you will think irrationally. If you reject aesthetic satisfactions, you will fall into sensual satisfactions.” He could have easily added that if you don’t practice good manners, you will have bad ones. Voids will always be filled and so will young minds. You ought not to coast through life – coasting is always downhill.
Boswell offers a well-thought out argument for the continuing need for good manners and manners. The present day mindset seems to be “anything goes!” but she argues against that with good cause and reason. An excellent read on the subject of manners.
Do you and yours need a refresher course on what is considered polite in society? Then you’ll want to pick up these books. Christian or not – they offer practical advice and practical tips on what is considered good behavior.
Both Harvest House and Canon Press have offered to give away one copy each to one of our readers. If you’d like to win, please leave a comment below. We’ll announce the winner on June 24. U.S. Residents only please.
We don’t have a giveaway winner to announce this week, because the one from last week is running two weeks, but you can check out all of our current giveaways and enter them too!
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.