This is the first non-fiction book that I’m reviewing. I’ll generally be sticking to fiction, but every now and again, you’ll find something else here. That’s life. I review what I read.
For a non-fiction book, this was quite an enjoyable read. I read it on my Kindle, but according to Amazon, the paperback is 224 page. I went through it in under 24 hours (including the acknowledgements). So, it clearly held my attention and, while not a page-turner in the sense of a thrilling mystery or action-packed novel, I was obviously turning the pages… quickly.
I figured this would happen, since Ms. Alkon’s writing voice is, in my opinion, hilarious. It’s not that she says things I don’t think, it’s more that she does… in an ad absurdum kind of way. Or, she’ll say the glaringly obvious things I’ve really wanted to say, but couldn’t quite put into words. I knew this from her blog. This is probably why I picked up this particular non-fiction book in the first place.
As to content, it is clear, understandable, informative, and allows for fact checking (I’m a nerd, I love foot/end notes, deal with it). It also presents stuff we all know along with stuff we probably don’t – without making me feel like an idiot. Information is often presented with story-like examples, which makes it both readable and interesting to those of us who tend to prefer a good story to a good college textbook.
Since Ms. Alkon’s skin is apparently made from adamantium, she does things to annoying people most of us would only dream of. This is amusing in its own right. (For those of you familiar with the Dresden Files series, I tend to think Ms. Alkon is what you’d get if Dresden had been created as a female non-wizard character – just replace the Blue Beetle with a Pink Rambler.)
I would recommend this book for anyone who’s ever been annoyed to tears (or long venting sessions) by people being rude. Anyone who enjoyed the Grrr! columns (by Mike Straka) from about 6-7 years ago would enjoy this book, as would most people who enjoy the Dresden Files.
I would argue that this would be a good gift for many teenagers – not because I think they are rude, but because I think many want to improve the world they live in, but don’t quite know how, and this book gives everyday examples. Also, it is my experience that many teenagers enjoy snarky humor.
I would suggest this to anyone who wonders how to make the world a nicer, better place. (Oh yeah, to people in psychology and stuff like that, too).
There are rude people everywhere. They seem to be multiplying in a way that would put rabbits to shame. It appears to be getting worse. Unfortunately, research suggests that most of us tend to behave better when people (we know and care about – like our moms) are watching or might be watching. Society is big enough that we don’t feel that way anymore because, face it, most of us don’t even know all our neighbors.
That doesn’t mean we have to roll over like submissive puppies and let rude people run the show.
What I liked:
- It was clearly written (plain English without big fancy terms) and not condescending.
- It was funny.
- While showing frustration with things (like slow police response, for instance), the author acknowledges the realities of life (for instance, that police can’t be everywhere and have to prioritize, so maybe her stolen car will be punted so they can do a murder investigation). In short, the book is neither utopian nor unrealistic. There’s full acknowledgement that nobody is perfect, but doesn’t leave that as an excuse to not try.
- The author acknowledges that she is, on occasion, not on her best behavior. Again, not utopian, not condescending.
- The author acknowledges that not everyone is going to be in a place where they are going to want/be able to confront rude people, but encourages them to support any who do (or at least not support the rude people).
- The book gives ways to improve society (and research backing it) without confronting people.
- Because of much of the above, I found the book to be like a good vent session with a friend – served with a side of humor and a desert of hope.
- Some of the photos were priceless – and not because they were award-winning shots by a professional photographer.
- The author takes time to discuss what I will term “exemptions.” This would include people with special needs (e.g. autism, dementia, hearing loss), along with other special circumstances. Yet, she doesn’t condone blanket excuses for rude behavior.
What I didn’t like (a.k.a. things I would change if I could):
- I mentioned that I like end/foot notes. There were plenty, but due either to technology or my inability to use it, I had trouble going back and finding the place the end notes referred to. This is annoying, but probably not an issue with the hard copy version – or for those who actually know how to use all the buttons on their e-readers.
- It felt a little light in spots. There were some examples from different cultures, but I would have enjoyed ideas on how to incorporate some of those (or encourage them) here in the US. In particular, making it more acceptable to give very minor reprimands/suggestions to children out in public (without hearing, “HOW DARE YOU TELL MY CHILD NOT TO HANG FROM THE CHANDELIER? IT’S A PUBLIC HOTEL, NOT YOUR HOME!”). Apparently, there are places in the world where you might get away with statements such as, “Stop. That’s dangerous,” or, “Please don’t shout, it hurts my ears.” I would have at least liked some discussion on how or why those cultural differences came to be.
- There were some great-sounding websites, but as I was using an e-reader and not entirely familiar with it yet, I couldn’t quite dog-ear the page to go back and check them out later. So, I either need to learn how to do that electronically, or go back with pen and paper and write stuff down. Again, this is annoying, but not actually a problem with the book/subject/author/approach.