It’s a typical day in the northwest – it’s raining cats and dogs…and mice and bunnies and elephants. Seriously, it’s been overcast and pouring all day. On days like this I like to head to Borders or Barnes and Noble and spend hours browsing through the books, magazines, greeting cards, and all the fun little extras they carry like journals and planners. On one of these such trips to Barnes and Noble I ran across the cutest little book called Better than Beauty: A Guide to Charm by Helen Valentine and Alice Thompson.
The book gives advice on how to engage in creative and intelligent conversation in social situations, how to dress for your figure and accessorize tastefully, and how to “be kind to atrocious people.” Better than Beauty was first published in 1938 so the illustrations are a bit old fashioned and they use words like “frock” and talk about having several different collars for your basic black dress, but the general concept of the book applies throughout all generations. As I flipped through the book and skimmed the timeless advice on graciousness, healthy eating, and first impressions I knew this was a book I needed to add to my library. In an age where women leave little to the imagination in low-cut spaghetti strap tops and people text in the checkout line it was refreshing to read tips on how to keep your bra straps discreetly out of sight and what topics are appropriate for casual conversation. If you’ve ever had to sit through a casual acquantaince’s recap of their terrible day that started with an arugment with their spouse over finances and ended with the gory details of their nightmare root canal, you’ll appreciate the practical advice to keep your personal troubles to yourself when conversing with the person next to you on the bus. I enjoy reading Better than Beauty every so often to remind myself that charm and grace never go out of style.