Tag Archives: manners

Your New Year

Each January, many of us decide to change our lives. There are the usual things we want to do:

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Eat healthier: 

End bad habits:

Handle money better:

Work out and lose weight:

These are all good things to focus on, but here are some ideas for other changes you could make.

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Add some creativity to your life:

Forgive someone:

Make it yourself:

Show gratitude:

Whatever you choose to do with your new year, I hope you have a wonderful one.



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After the Fall

All the buzz about the world ending has put me in the mood to refresh my survival skills.  While the label of  “survivalist” is sometimes synonomous with “nutjob,”  you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t spend a little time planning and thinking about what you might need to do if things go completely pear-shaped. As usual, CLP can scratch that itch.

How to Think Like a Survivor by Tom Watson has a great deal of basic information, including some discussion about the psychological states one may find themselves in after an accident. Overcoming panic is the first step!

Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John McCann takes it a step further, guiding one through a plethora of options. Everybody could use a little emergency kit in the car or home. Heaps of advice and information are packed into this little book. One thing missing from the author’s recommendations is any sort of religious text. Personally, my ideal survival kit would include a copy of the Torah, Bible, and Quran. I imagine if my life is in jeopardy I would get religious. With all three books in hand my options would be open.

Wilderness Survival by Gregory J. Davenport is the book to have if you plan to get lost on your next camping trip. I love the simple drawings, the lean-to, the A-frame shelter, all survival classics.

Wild: Stories of Survival from the World’s Most Dangerous Places is an amazing anthology of adventure and survival. These tales make for thrilling reading and will steel the nerves and prepare us for our own challenges.

The above books will certainly arm us against misadventure. But if we need these skills because civilization has collapsed then I would recommend an additional title:

The Art of the Table by Suzanne Von Drachenfel is the go-to book for questions of etiquette, table setting, and menu selection at any meal or occasion. This information will be vital in avoiding something like we saw in Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome. Survival situations are by nature incredibly stressful. If you are in such a situation as part of a group then I imagine etiquette will be vital in maintaining harmony.

In addition to its use in staving off complete social anarchy, the book is a wild read. I like to periodically read things far outside my usual interests and this was a great choice. I had no idea the variety and purposes of different stemware. And flatware is placed on the setting in order of use, corresponding with the course. This arrangement ensures one always uses the right utensil. I had always wondered.



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How to be Happy While Single

Tucked away in our circulating Dewey collection is one of my very favorite old library books, Jean Van Evera’s 1949 gem of manners, etiquette, and relationship advice, How to be Happy While Single.

It’s full of information on everything from choosing an apartment to mending a broken heart, and  while some of the advice is very dated, most of it is either quite liberal (for its day) or just plain hilarious. Here are a few delightful quotes to pique your interest.

On the importance of telephones: (A man) can always go to the corner drugstore to make his calls but a girl can hardly drop in her nickel, call everyone she knows, and say: “I was wondering if you’ve been trying to reach me to take me to the Persian Room for dinner,” or, “Were you planning to invite me to the Peninsula for the weekend?” (p. 29)

On drinking: The girl who gets good and looped but rarely, will find her friends and associates tolerant, sympathetic, amused, maternal and paternal, but if she makes a practice of it, her social life will peter out. Or else she will find it is carried on in strange places with very strange people.  (p. 74)

On when to call: You don’t call a man at his office unless you have something specific, brief, and impersonal to say. Frequently he is unable to converse privately, or he may have a suspicion that his secretary has not replaced her extension phone. (p. 88)

On affairs: The idea of an affair looks good on paper, like those pension plans which pay everybody $200 a month. But sex pour le sport does not work out well for a woman. If she can get by unharmed, she is very strong-minded, very callous, or possibly, in good practice. (p. 128)

On reading: Not so long ago, as time is measured, reading was considered a useless feminine accomplishment. Even today there exists among many women the mistaken notion that merely knowing words, sentences and paragraphs means that they know how to read. (p. 145)

And remember, even though it’s hidden on the eighth stack, How to be Happy While Single is a circulating book – so request it, check it out, and enjoy!

– Amy


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Ever wonder how some of the more colorful words and phrases in the English language made their way into our lexicon? In yet one more proof that libraries contain credible information on everything, here’s a short list of good books about bad language:

Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English, Geoffrey Hughes.

The Anatomy of Swearing, Ashley Montagu

Blue Streak, Richard Dooling.

Expletive Deleted, Ruth Wajnyrb.

There are also a number of books and materials specifically dedicated to what Ralphie, the plucky hero of A Christmas Story, calls “the queen mother of dirty words”:

Christopher Fairman’s book examines cursing in light of the First Amendment…

…while Jessie Sheidlower’s collection, The F-Word, takes the history/etymology route, in copious detail.

Those of you who prefer film will find the same topic treated documentary-style in F**k, which includes commentary from Steven Bochco, Pat Boone, and Hunter S. Thompson.

Gee whiz!

Learning about the roots of naughty words might not be everybody’s cup of tea, so if none of the items in today’s blog post appealed to you, there will be a whole fresh crop of books and things to consider Monday.  If, however, you are besotted with words and languages, I swear — er, promise — you’ll always be able to indulge your curiosity at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

–Leigh Anne

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Mind Your Manners, If You Even Have Any in the First Place

Allow me to add the disclaimer that I am mostly writing this post for myself. Okay. I’m entirely writing this post for myself. Table manners. Something I’ve somehow lost, if I ever had any in the first place. I can only guess that the combination of laziness, eating alone and just being extremely hungry have inspired me to revisit the standard rules of etiquette. In preparing to research this topic, I knew the most reliable source would be Emily Post, the Grandmother of etiquette. In a world of portable wireless distractions and being in a hurry, she’s just as relevant today as ever before.

Post’s first etiquette manual, Etiquette: In Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home, was published in 1922 and rose to best seller fame, becoming a reference for all of your mannerly conundrums. Keep in mind, some of Ms. Post’s advice is outdated, however, let us review this piece from a section titled Etiquette of Gloves and Napkin:

Ladies always wear gloves to formal dinners and take them off at table. Entirely off. It is hideous to leave them on the arm, merely turning back the hands. Both gloves and fan are supposed to be laid across the lap, and one is supposed to lay the napkin folded once in half across the lap too, on top of the gloves and fan, and all three are supposed to stay in place on a slippery satin skirt on a little lap, that more often than not slants downward.

This tip of etiquette raises a few questions for me: Who shows up to dinner with a  fan? And how do I get invited to the kind of dinner party that assumes female guests will arrive wearing gloves?

Since I’m a beginner in this matter, I found the children’s guide to be much more my speed. Tips such as “come to the table with clean hands and face,” “stay seated and sit up straight,” and “say ‘please pass the potatoes’ instead of reaching,” are all very basic principles that I’ve let slip in my somewhat small repertoire of manners.

For readers much more advanced than me, here is a selection of books from the Library you might want to borrow:

 The New Book of Table Settings: Creative Ideas for the Way We Gather Today, Chris Bryant and Paige Gilchrist



Elements of Etiquette: A Guide to Table Manners in an Imperfect World, Craig Claiborne



Miss Manners’ Basic Training: Eating, Judith Martin



The Art of the Table: A Complete Guide to Table Setting, Table Manners, and Tableware, Suzanne von Drachenfels



Excuse me, please, and thank you,

– Lisa


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