Nice is the secret ingredient to a better life. It makes us happy. It may even be what makes us civilized--when we say thank you, shake hands, send flowers, we're doing the nice things that bring people together.
?A compulsive and chunky book for lovers of trivia, popular history, customs, and culture--and a perfect gift to say "you're nice"--The Book of Nice is an entertaining, quirky compendium of those signs, traditions, and expressions that we so often take for granted, yet turn out to be quite fascinating. It's about why we cover a yawn (originally to prevent evil spirits from entering our bodies, now to hide the impression that something's boring us). About holiday traditions--it's thanks to Guy Lombardo's December 31 broadcast in 1929 that we now sing "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve. About customary offerings--the wedding cake evolved out of the Roman use of wheat as a symbol of fertility (and it's much tastier than bits of grain). And about those simple yet essential niceties--how Thomas Edison championed an obscure term, "hello" (if Alexander Graham Bell had gotten his way, we'd all be saying "ahoy").
Josh Chetwynd is the author of The Secret History of Balls (named a “Best Book of 2011” by NPR), How the Hot Dog Found Its Bun, and other books. He is a former reporter for USA Today and U.S. News & World Report, and a contributor to Variety, The Times (London), and the BBC. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
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