Monday, August 23, 2010

Better Than Beauty, Are You Charming?

My summer reading list included a “penny sale” book called Better than Beauty, A Guide to Charm by Helen Valentine & Alice Thomson. It is an easy and surprisingly witty read considering it was originally published in 1938. Some parts are a bit outdated, BUT--most of the information is timeless and includes very valuable lessons. The illustrations are quite amusing too, so check out my highlights below and if you are interested in a copy of your own, see below for the link. Enjoy!

Here are my favorite little excerpts from the book:

“Charm is much like a beautiful dress. It can be acquired. But it means very little unless the personality it covers is clean and properly cared for.”

“People talk about the charm of childhood, as though it were a matter of age. It isn’t. The vital essence of childish un-self-consciousness can permeate your personality through life. It removes fear. It stirs a perennial curiosity about the world and the people in it. It generates so lively an interest in other people that it overcomes narrow preoccupation with self.”

“If one short sentence could be read and learned and felt by all women, there would be fewer neurotic women wandering around. LEARN TO LIVE WITH YOURSELF. Make yourself over as much as necessary to adapt your life to others, but accept yourself as you really are.

“Our true faults do not distort and spoil us. Our refusal to admit them, to accept ourselves as very inadequate human beings, is ruinous. So get rid of your need to think of yourself as a heroine. Know every one of your mean, petty, unreasonable traits. Then learn either to get rid of them or to live with them. And it is just possible that you may erase those qualities that make the record look too unpleasant. But, best of all, you wont need to justify yourself to yourself by all the unpleasant devices so common to women today (no one else need know your honest names for yourself).”

“The woman who makes herself comfortable with those about her, the woman who makes others feel comfortable with her, will be remembered as delightful after the very witty woman has been dismissed as slightly awe-inspiring.”

“Even more boring than the person who tells her troubles is the person who smothers every anecdote under a mountain of irrelevant details. When you tell a story, remember that brevity always was and always will be the soul of wit.”

“Use the gifts you have. Use your warmth, your imagination, your kindness; use your wit, too, as long as it is used kindly. The real life of the party is the person who has no time for consciousness of self. She is too busy exploring others, in the friendliest of fashions.”

“Some people ask “How are you?” and, while you tell them, their minds are wandering to something else, or they are thinking of the next bright remark they plan to make. Do not ask how people are unless you want to know and intend to give them the courtesy of your undivided attention while they answer your question.”

“Ladies remember that you spend most of your time with women—so you are pretty dependent upon their goodwill. The woman who boasts that her friends are all men is headed for social insecurity. She’ll get around in her twenties, but she’ll sit at home after that, unless she changes her tune. Women are the invitation givers, the social arbiters. Make them your friends, give them your staunchest loyalty. If you don’t, you may find yourself practicing allure to the four walls of your own room.”

“It is difficult to give a recipe for successful conversation. But it would certainly include three fundamentals. Assemble good ingredients, mix and spice with your own thinking and serve attractively...”

“…To assemble the ingredients, read. Read lots of different things. Read newspapers that express a viewpoint contrary to your own; read periodicals that have thoughtful, provocative articles; read books that tell of places and persons of current interest; read fiction, of course, but not to the exclusion of all other things. If you do not have time to read your newspapers thoroughly, at least read all the headlines and subjects carefully. ”

“We’re not the first to state it. Try to get inside the skins of others. Think how they feel, how they react, and guide your own conduct by that.”

“Profanity on a lady’s lips used to be a sign that she was no lady, and perhaps not even a virtuous woman. Profanity today may mean anything from bad taste, or a weak vocabulary, to a superficial talent for doing as the Romans do.”

“It isn’t smart to be hard, and we use the word smart in both of its meanings…we are not competing with men, but rather working with them…the successful woman, at home or in business, is the woman who is contributing her efficacy and her talent as a woman…hardness and imitation of men have gone out of fashion.”

“The young [woman] has her set of rules for liquor. At the top of the list are two words—“Go slow.” If you drink at all, nibble food and dance while you make a single drink outlast two or three of your date’s. Alcohol permits elders to feel young and carefree again. But you don’t need it. It will not help your figure, your skin, or your eyes. Indeed it tends to do the opposite. So go slow. And never feel that you are a goody-good if you don’t drink at all.”

“Better than Beauty, A Guide to Charm” by Helen Valentine & Alice Thomson can be purchased on for as little as a penny! Click here --> Buy The Book

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