Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Minding Your P’s and Q’s, or How Not to Be a Dick by Meghan Doherty

Title: How Not to Be a Dick: An Everyday Etiquette Guide
Author: Meghan Doherty
Publisher: Zest Books
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Read: September 2013
Where It Came From: eARC from publisher via NetGalley*
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 3.5 Cheese Logs

Okay, I’ll admit it was the title that drew me to this one. It kind of reaches out and punches you in the face. How could I not be hooked by an etiquette guide so reminiscent of Wil Wheaton’s most excellent motto?

Just like the title states, this book is a basic etiquette guide. It starts out with tips on interacting with yourself and self-esteem (I thought that was a nice idea), and then moves into the territory of interactions with other people and situation-specific manners, such as at work, at parties, on the internet, etc. I especially like the inclusion of the internet section because, well, a lot of dickish behavior happens there! While a lot of the stuff is basic, I like that there is also info that goes beyond the sort of please-and-thank-you-I-learned-it-in-kindergarten stuff. How to act in a performance review at work, dealing with roommate issues, public transportation etiquette…these are the kind of things you usually end up learning about through real world trial and error, and it’s nice that there’s a helpful reference guide to shorten that learning curve.

What this book really has going for it is that it’s presented in an engaging, humorous way. It has lots of pop culture jokes and references, and has its own running jokes popping up throughout the book (cheese logs, tricycle racing, euphemistically referring to alcoholic drinks as sugary beverages…). It’s also full of funny ‘50s-ish Dick and Jane-esque drawings to illustrate the points.

One thing I will note is that I had some confusion about who the target audience is. It was listed on NetGalley under “children’s non-fiction” and I wondered how that would work out for a book with the word “dick” in the title, but it became clear very quickly that that categorization was in error. So, based on word choice in title and the content re: jobs and drinking, it’s not for kids—my next thought was that it’s meant for college kids and 20-somethings, what with the stuff about roommates, work, jokes that the internet generation would find funny, etc. But then we took a left turn into high school land with stuff about school dances. What?? I was confused. Taking it all into consideration, the best I can come up with is that it’s a book aimed at mid-high school age through 20-somethings. People beyond that age range can certainly enjoy it and use it, too, but the jokes and just-setting-out-into-the-real-world content target that age group.

Overall, it’s a practical book of etiquette for modern life and guidelines on interacting with others. A lot of it is basic, but you know what? Sometimes we need to be reminded of the basics. The humor and drawings keep it accessible and prevent boredom, and help make it both useful to and amusing for millenials. While it’s not a groundbreaking, must-read sort of book, it was a quick, fun read, and I also took something away from it. I need to be reminded not to be a dick at times, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that goes for the rest of the world, too. It’s nice that there’s a book to fill that very niche!

*As ever, much as we are grateful for the copy, our review is uninfluenced by its source.

EDIT: The publisher contacted me shortly after I posted this review to NetGalley and noted that the final version of the book had some differences from the earlier version that I reviewed. They then offered to send me a hard copy of the published version of the book to peruse and share my opinion of with our audience. So that’s what I’m doing! After browsing, the book seems to be largely what I’d already seen in the digital copy, but I do think there were more illustrations added. One other thing that I really like that wasn’t in the NetGalley version is the “Typology of Dicks” that appears at the very end. It identifies and discusses various common dicks, such as the Passive Aggressive, the Drama Queen, and others you might recognize from your own interactions with humanity. Both amusing and edifying!


Susan said...

I have so much trouble with internet etiquette, and I will spend way too long debating about what form of salutation to use in an email.

The target audience does seem confusing, especially since the cover looks like a Sally, Dick and Jane book (which would appeal to baby boomers who used the book to learn to read, or children, right?).

LadySol said...

You know I read an article sometime in the last year about how, basically thanks to email, salutations were dying out as an art form in the west. I'm not sure if this wasn't a problem in other parts of the world or if they just didn't do enough research before writing the article. I should probably go try to re-read it or something. .
I must admit I generally just go with the person's name, and if the target is more familiar a "hey" or a "hi" in front.

Feliza said...

In general, I like to use "Hi (So-and-So)" or "Hello (So-and-So)," with the former being a little more casual than the latter. But I don't really like when people who aren't very close to me send me emails without salutations at the beginning. I don't mind so much at the end - although "Thanks" or "Thank you" is nice, if applicable - but at least say hello to me in greeting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...