The undeniable charms of Anne Lamott.
Always wanted to attend a library conference?

Misled by a subtitle.

Weirdly enough, shortly after I got Across the Pond from the library, I also got Henry Hitchings's cultural history Sorry!: The English and Their Manners

I was very, very disappointed in it.

The problems began with the introduction. Which, at eight pages long, is about six pages longer than it needs to be*, since this is pretty much his whole thesis: "In the pages that follow, I examine English manners. I also examine Englishness." (p. 3.) Thereafter the narrative swings into (well, limps slowly along into, actually) a history of British manners, starting in medieval times and moving up through the twentieth century (and a bit beyond). It's not terribly written, and it actually has a nice notes section and an index, but it's on the crusty side of dry. It's also not so much a commentary on British manners as it is a HISTORY of British manners, which I don't think the subtitle was clear about.

I didn't finish this book, and I didn't find much to bookmark. I did mark this sentence as representative of the author's style: "If greeting people has become more relaxed (and thus in fact more awkward), the language of parting remains comparatively clear-cut, despite the rise of alternatives to a straightforward 'goodbye.' "(p. 48.) That's not even a very complicated sentence, but even re-reading it now my eye (and train of thought) tends to wander before I make it to the end.

*And, in all fairness, it is marked as chapter 1, although it functions as an introduction, laying out Hitchings's plan for the book. Hilariously, before I started writing this post, my memory of this first chapter was that it was at least 30 pages long. That's how long it felt.