Title: Etiquette: Etiquette, How to be a Gentleman
Publisher: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited
Date of Publication: 29 September 2017
Etiquette has been known to imply the British Elizabethan Era starched white collars and feminine curtsies. Empirically, it is far from a lost art from across the pond, it is more casually referred to as manners in most current conversations. Schreiber delineates the nooks and crannies of this crucial task effortlessly in this condensed and useful manual.
According to Professor Pier Forni of John Hopkins University, “The rules of good manners are the traffic lights of human interaction.” Traffic lights not only pave the way that needs to be followed but it also controls and sets the direction of movement. Similarly it has become more important in a post globalised world when masses of people are interacting and trying to make meaningful exchanges that some of them fail to realise that there is a need for some common rule to better shepherd these masses of intermixed cultures easily without causing offence. Schreiber calls etiquette a “social vaccine” that needs to be administered in order to avoid any faux pas. The tone of the book is endearing and encouraging. It does not restrict itself to the usual strictly disciplinarian voice of authoritative obligation. It provides valuable advice for both those who may often attend high profile social gatherings and for others who don’t or may never will need to. Yet, it is advantageous to learn and implement it in order to become better human beings. The book begins with the trifecta of table manners that deals with table settings, behaviour at the table with regard to chewing food, passing dishes around the table, sipping beverages, seating arrangements, postures and table conversation. Next comes the restaurant rulebook with detailed advice on planning the outing, choosing dishes, billing and tipping. This is followed by the protocols of hosting private parties. The book is formatted in an unconventional manner with interesting headings such as “pre party panache” and “party post partum’s.”
The social niceties don’t just end there. Schreiber encourages readers to revive old traditions (despite living in the age of hashtags and Facebook status updates) at weddings and funerals which are often occasions of large social gatherings of a mixed type. This chapter forms the crux of the book which deals with what needs to be worn, served and accommodated. It is a great guide for anyone who’s new to hosting parties. What is interesting is that though the book is highly informative it does not delve in a black and white frame of recommendation. A proper guideline is provided but there is still room for experimentation. A lot of these rules regarding behaviour are already known to most people but it is their ability to remember and use them at the right time that will ultimately show their sense of modesty. With its helpful style of peer advice, the book is bound to turn one into an ideal socialite. Most interestingly, Schreiber completely wipes out the stereotype that politeness is a weakness or a sign of the ignorant.
Another extremely informative book is this guide to becoming a gentleman which begins with dissecting the implications of the word gentle. Being a gentleman is about finding the right balance between being chivalric and being nice. Sadly, the word “nice” used to mean stupid in Middle English during the 12th and 15th century. The main purpose of the book is to help develop the traits of a real gentleman and to become a respectable member of the society. However, this is not a choice that can be imposed upon any individual. It has to be an individual’s decision and they need to realise that this will help in their personal growth and development apart from being socially beneficial.
The book has each chapter named with a courtesy word that can be derived from the letters of the word “gentleman” such as g for generosity, e for etiquette, n for no’s, l for literacy and so on. Every chapter then begins with a profound and appropriate quotation that goes on to explain in detail all that is essential to follow in order to fulfil the requirements of each ‘quality’. With examples from fictional characters and literary anecdotes, these ideas are brought out exceptionally well. It is easy to read and very interesting. Again, the advice is friendly but not overbearing. The eye for detail is remarkable and will leave the reader feeling qualitatively enriched with newer knowledge. The book guides the reader not just through the makeover that will be visible in their outer appearance but also raises awareness about inculcating the need to be consciously well mannered. It also attempts to address the ways to manage one’s emotions properly. It is a highly practical and matured advice that the book provides both for laymen and professionals. Most importantly being a gentleman is about maintaining a healthy mental outlook and being a good human being. The chapter on do’s and don’ts is some really heart touching counsel. Surprisingly, it is a great book for both men and women. The book encourages men to break away from the fashion and societal trends to contemplate on their personalities instead of getting lost in the crowd and to better their identities for a holistic progress.
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