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488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct by Kitty Flanagan

He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers and I are big fans of Australian comedian Kitty Flanagan. We’ve attended her shows at the Melbourne Comedy festival and are always delighted when she is scheduled to appear on our favourite television show, Have You Been Paying Attention? I recently snickered my way through Kitty’s most recent book, 488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct and whenever HWEAoOL and Miss S (neither of whom read books) questioned what I was laughing about, I read the rule I had just been laughing at to them.

My intention was to place a sticky note on each rule I particularly agreed with or those I found funniest, but I only got a few pages in when I realised that if I proceeded with my plan I would have a sticky note against nearly every rule. From rule #14, Do not leave one square of toilet paper on the roll to rule #322, Don’t leave a voicemail if it’s important, to rule #431, Read the room, know when the party is over, I agreed with nearly every rule in the book.

Loads of rules made me laugh. Rule #188, Never propose to someone in public because, as the author rightly points out, it put too much pressure on the other person to say yes. Rule #189, If someone proposes in public, say yes even in you don’t mean it explains that if you didn’t really want to say yes you can decline the offer privately later, so the other person isn’t publicly embarrassed. Together I think these two rules are hilarious, wise and kind.

Each of the rules included an explanation. While I found the rules clear, the explanations provide rule-breakers with more encouragement and reasons why they should follow these rules while adding enormously to my enjoyment of the book. Rule 67, No stinky foods in the office should be self-explanatory, but the explanation of why tuna or hot chips should never be eaten in an office made me smile and nod.

I was particularly grateful to finally learn a rule regarding greeting people in the office for the umpteenth time that I’ve encountered the other person during a single day. Rule #63, One proper greeting per day, after that a nod will suffice. Wondering what to say during these awkward meetings has been bothering me for years. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but by the third or fourth time I’ve met someone at the photocopier, staff kitchen or corridor in the past I’ve taken to commenting on what Kitty calls ‘Say what you see’, as in ‘Ooh, having a cup of tea’ or ‘Mm, chips. Good stuff’. Now that I know this rule I’ll never make this mistake again.

The book contained a section on Blogging. When I saw this I felt slightly apprehensive that I might have been unwittingly breaking some of Kitty’s rules or that heaven forbid, I might not agree with some of the rules, but I reassured myself with rule #1, If you don’t agree with a rule, forget about it, move on to the next one and continued reading.

Rule #335, Don’t assume people have hours to read your blog. Although I agree with this rule I’m not convinced I can consistently be concise. But I try.

Rule #336, Blogging won’t make you rich. Okay. I don’t monetize my blog, but will consider myself warned in case things change in future.

Rule #337, No topic, no blog. While I like reading other people’s meanderings, I’ve got a topic for each of my posts. Book reviews. Tick.

Rule #338, Give me the recipe, not the story of your life. Oh no. I finally found a rule that I disagreed with. I love the stories that go with people’s recipes. Especially family stories, or funny things that happened when the cook made the recipe for the sixteenth time and used a substitute ingredient and there was an unexpected result, or how someone’s great-uncle fell in love with their great-aunt over Apple Pie made using Grandma’s secret recipe.

Rule #339, Limit of one blog per person. Nope. Sorry, Kitty, I definitely disagree with this rule. In my opinion, fellow bloggers, fill your boots and have as many blogs as you like. Here are some new blogs I’m thinking of starting:

Rose Eats Donuts. Photos of donuts with descriptions of their flavour, size and my rating of the featured donut. You’re welcome.

Rose Discovers Mailboxes. Photos of unusual mailboxes, usually those I’ve spotted on country roads. Blog readers will be thrilled to see mail boxes made from gas bottles that have been painted up like Minions, Ned Kelly-style helmets welded out of rusty scrap metal, timber planes mounted on poles and more. There is a mailbox around the corner from me that has been painted with hotrod flames. It makes me smile. Clearly I’m not the only person who loves quirky mailboxes.

Rose Crochets Stuff. Photos of my projects and a link to the pattern of whatever I’ve just made. The special feature will be a photo of the grateful recipient wearing the item I’ve hand made especially for them. You’ll see HWEAoOL wearing his slightly oversized grey woollen beanie, Miss S modelling the rainbow-bright poncho which she swears she will never wear anywhere her friends might see her, Honey-Bunny wearing any of the many misshapen scarves and cowls I’ve made for her, and so on. Extended family and friends, watch out, because I won’t be satisfied until each of you have a beanie, scarf or poncho of your own. (Whoops. Just realised I’ve broken Rule #335 again. Be concise, Rose).

Anyway, despite finding a total of perhaps five rules that I disagreed with, I loved this book and think that everyone should read it. I found 488 Rules for Life: The Thankless Art of Being Correct to be completely relatable but if you don’t, there is a section in the back where you can write your own rules. In my opinion, Kitty and this book Rules O.K.!

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