Thursday, October 03, 2013

Book Book

Well, well. It HAS been a while since I reviewed a book!

I've got two how-to's for you today. Let's tidy The Butler Speaks out of the way first, shall we?

This is a neat little book, comprising everything you need to know to make your life more serene and classy. Charles McPherson, butler to some very posh people in his day, has put a career's worth of tips and tricks into this one volume - you get to find out exactly what you're meant to do with that weird shaped fork, the correct way to clean a fridge (you're probably thinking, as I did, "There's an incorrect way?"), and just what your next party needs in order to be the event of the season. (Some very good ideas here, specifically - mostly along the lines of FOR GOD'S SAKE DON'T FUSS.)

At first glance I like it quite a lot, but I'm not sure that this book is a success, overall. It's got loads of useful information, sure, but much of it would only apply to a certain class of folks. (Hint: not our kind of class, at all: unless you're the type who makes seven figures, always sits in the back seat of your car[s], and lives far, far closer to the Atlantic than the Pacific.) He means well, but the tone is a little superior for me. It's meant to be, of course -- I'm sure others would find him perfectly amiable. I'm not the target audience for this book, though he tries to insist that his edicts are universally applicable.

HalfSoled Boots' Book Rating System:
Reread? Parts, maybe: I like his instructions for making a bed.
Give To Others? Not really.
Bookplate? No.

Oddly enough, and I never thought I'd say this: Martha Stewart does a little better in the "fix up your life" game than Charles does. Her Living the Good Long Life is more conversable, more practical and down-to-earth: altogether a more realistic collection of advice, especially for your everyday, average type of person. In this book, she is aiming at bettering the daily lives of the elderly. Of course, in her comprehensive career she has addressed herself to almost every age group: baby, child, young adult, middle-aged power earners. It's only natural that, she herself having reached her 70s, she would turn her laser beam gaze on senior citizens.

Lots of good stuff, though - small practical things like "never put anything on stairs, ever", and "if you see a wrinkle, put cream on it", along with more serious items of advice like "get a colonoscopy" and "your home is not a shrine to your children". I am not 70 (soon, though), but I found a couple of interesting tips and tricks in this book, and I use them now. (For instance I'm putting cream on my wrinkles, though I'm not sure it's helping.)

My only complaint about this book is that there is sometimes a faint whiff of taking care of business - as if this was the only demographic which had, until now, not felt the benefit of Martha's caring, if slightly obsessive, eye. It feels a little like tidying up loose ends.

I'll be hanging on to this one, though, because I like the honest and practical approach to aging. I like the idea that there are specific and concrete things that elders can do, and that we can do for our elders, to make the last decades of life more pleasant and comfortable.

Reread: Yes.
Give to Others: Likely.
Bookplate: Sure.


Anonymous said...

This selection of books amuses me no end. I'm sure you know why.

70 my foot. 21 and holding, baby!

Shan said...

Kate - you made me lawl!

That's why it took me OVER SIX MONTHS to review these books - they just didn't speak to me! (Except the wrinkle cream part - I'm haunted by my decades-long omission there.)

Gwen said...

So tell me, how should I be making my bed?