Since I usually feature books in the parenting genre here, I thought I'd "take a quick break" and offer a few books that don't fall in that category. These are books that you can use to ignite conversation with co-workers, childless/single friends, or your spouse (when you want to talk about something other than when your baby went poop last...a fascinating topic to-be-sure, but not necessarily the only one you want to engage in...).
LOOKS: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined by Gordon L. Patzer (AMACOM, 2008)
Professor Gordon Patzer utilizes intellectual humor and original research to inform his audience about the "well-documented advantages bestowed upon the good-looking." These advantages include better grades, success in romance, higher salaries, better job opportunities, and less stringent court sentences. The book truly does what the cover promises - it "uncovers the sometimes ugly truth about beauty and its profound effects on us all." The book was fascinating to me on many levels. The premise wasn't new to me, but many of the studies cited were and I found myself constantly looking up from the text to say: "Did you know...?" to my husband (which he didn't mind because the content is pretty interesting).
On a more superficial level, Looks is one of those books that looks extraordinarily impressive if you happen to be traveling on the subway or waiting in a doctor's office. I'm sure the cover alone has sparked many-a-conversation between strangers.
Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon (AMACOM, 2007)
Networking is an important skill - especially for moms, who often take breaks in their careers or float between jobs during the early years. Networking is critical because it "remains the primary technique that people use to find new jobs, change careers, or land on their feet after a layoff, merger, or reorganization." Sending out resumes blindly doesn't produce results, but networking does - and when I say "networking," I DON'T mean handing out a lot of business cards, giving your "30-second commercial", or engaging in silly small talk. Neither do the authors. They give solid advice about how to be authentic, how to give, and how to listen...all steps to making your contacts count. If you want to learn how to make a memorable entrance, how to deal when you forget someone's name, how to follow-up with a potential client, and how to move conversation away from the weather, this is your book. Whether you sell Arbonne or are thinking about switching to a PT job or are looking to get back into the workforce after an extended time away, this book will give you some starting points. It's not the most thrilling ride of your life (it doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat, I can tell you that right now. In fact, to be quite honest, I skimmed through the text, which I don't often do). That said, I feel like the authors left me with some fantastic take-away points that will serve me well in the future.
Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets: Sound Like a Genius at any Social Gathering by Mental Floss (Mental Floss, 2006)
I was originally attracted to this book at Borders because of its quirky title/cover and its easy format. Divided into 44 sections of four pages each, the book features important people, places, and events throughout history that smart people know. You'll find a brief synopsis about Alexander the Great, Beethoven, Buddha, Dead Sea Scrolls, The Hundred Years War, John Locke (no, not THAT John Locke...), The Qur'an, Voltaire, and more...so that you'll be prepared to "sound like a genius in any social setting." The tone of the book is slightly irreverent and a bit snobby - you might imagine that the authors are graduates from Brown University or are well-studied on many-a-subject (or, wait, maybe that's just what they want us to think...). If you want to refresh yourself on important facts about history that have shaped our current culture in a non-serious and non-threatening way, this book might be the ticket because it is small and "chunked" into easy-to-read-in-between-other-duties chapters. I found that I read about 2 sections per night during bathtime sitting next to the bathtub, while my daughter was splish-splashing (don't worry, I do my fair share of splashing with her, but she loves to stay in the water and she almost always points at the counter and says, "Book!" because she knows that I'll read a page or two while she reads her bath books and pastes her alphabet letters on the bath wall happily). P.S. You can read a full review of the book at BlogCritics Magazine.
WIN IT! There will be three winners, one winner for each book. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post stating which book you would prefer to win (and why it appeals to you) prior to Saturday, May 17 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Sunday, May 18. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
*UPDATE* The winner of "Looks" is #44 Cheryl Free. The winner of "Make Your Contacts Count" is #89 flaredone. The winner of "Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets" is #58 Danielle S. Congratulations!