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January 2015

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Modern Manners by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

modernmanners

It’s an etiquette book with a cute cover. I couldn’t resist.

This is a fairly basic etiquette book that apparently is targeted at those just starting out in their careers, so it isn’t fair for me to judge it based on other etiquette books. But I still will. If you’re going to get an etiquette book, and you’re a young woman who doesn’t mind the occasional f-bomb, you should get The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum, which includes this gem about breakfast after sleeping with someone: “If the sleepover occurred at your place, you really should offer him something no matter how you feel. You fucked him, you can pour him a glass of orange juice.”

However. If you’re an auntie looking for a cute graduation present for your 18-year-old niece or nephew, this isn’t a bad choice. It includes some VERY basic items, such as handshaking, making introductions, and table manners. On the subject of table manners, I actually disagree with one of the author’s subjective claims: that the European style of eating (where the knife and fork stay in hand while taking a bite) is more elegant than the American style (where you cut a piece, set down the knife and transfer the fork). I have always thought that the European practice of keeping the silverware in one’s hands throughout the bite made the person eating the food look a bit like they were waiting for someone to steal their food and thus had to shove it all in at once.

Because of my mild obsession with manners there wasn’t a lot that was new to me, but I still enjoyed learning a few things, such as the proper way to eat different foods, as well as some tips and tricks about hosting meals. It’s a brief book with some great illustrations (and while I commend the illustrator’s recognition that not everyone is white, it’d be great if the illustrator also recognized that not everyone is skinny) and useful tips for those who would benefit from a bit of etiquette education.

Oh, one last thing. One of the authors is ostensibly Liv Tyler. Yes, that Liv Tyler. She offers a few little nuggets of wisdom here and there, but it definitely reads as though Dorothea Johnson did the lion’s share of the writing.

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