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Book How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)


How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck).pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Michael Wex(Author)

    Book details

Sure to resonate with Jewish and Gentile readers alike, How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck) is a wise and witty self-help manual for pursuing happiness while still acting with integrity, honor, and compassion. Michael Wex, New York Times bestselling author of Born to Kvetch and Just Say Nu, draws on sources that range from the Talmud and Yiddish proverbs to contemporary music and movies in this insightful guide that explores not only human nature and psychology but our duties to ourselves and one another.

Starred Review. Yes, the Yiddish words "schmuck" and (to a lesser extent) "mentsh" have entered the popular English lexicon, but few people in the general population have a more than cursory understanding of their meanings. Novelist, professor and performer Wex (Born to Kvetch) has an intimate knowledge of the Yiddish language and Jewish culture, and here explains both terms in the context of Jewish and non-Jewish life. Though its title might suggest a satirical self-help, Wex is a committed Yiddish revivalist, and this lesson in language and culture is rooted in a shocking degree of scholarship; happily, it's also blessed with humor, grace and a well-developed sense of contemporary pop culture (references range from Genesis to Groundhog Day). The end result is a consistent pleasure: entertaining, educational and only minimally pedantic, with more than a few thought-provoking suggestions for achieving mentsh-hood (or at least avoiding shmuck-itude). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. “Funny...astute and relevant.” (San Francisco Chronicle)“…blessed with humor, grace and a well-developed sense of contemporary pop culture (references range from Genesis to Groundhog Day) ... a consistent pleasure: entertaining, educational…with more than a few thought-provoking suggestions for achieving mentsh-hood (or at least avoiding shmuck-itude).” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))“The Sneaky Chef of contemporary Jewish culture…Wex writes books that look and read like snacks, but he hides scholarly vegetables between the covers…Wex has achieved on the bookshelf what Hillel advised that we all do in life: In a place where there are no mentshn, try to be a mentsh.” (Forward)“Just superb….The book is funny, too, and is certainly the finest explanation of the religious significance of The Apartment and Groundhog Day. Talmud, Torah, Jack Lemmon, Bill Murray--need I say more?” (Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day: The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Across America)“[A]n often humorous and frequently provocative guide to being a good person, a mentsh....This book reflects extensive learning, serious thought, a sense of the absurd and the unfair, as well as an impish willingness to play the mazik (scamp).” (Jewish Book World)“[S]uperb...brilliant...[O]ne of the leading lights in the Yiddish revival, Michael Wex distills the age-old principles that have been the nucleus of Jewish survival...into some relevant lessons, delightful anecdotes, and real-world applications for not just Judaism but all faiths.” (Sacramento Book Review)

3.2 (10090)
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Book details

  • PDF | 240 pages
  • Michael Wex(Author)
  • Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (August 24, 2010)
  • English
  • 7
  • Humor & Entertainment

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Review Text

  • By Steven Weintraub on September 15, 2009

    Michael Wex's new book "How to be a Mentsh (& not a Shmuck) couldn't be more timely. Not only is it the perfect read for those doing the spiritual house cleaning that goes with the imminent Jewish New Year, it also lets one appreciate the poetic justice of an item like this (culled from a CNN news story):"By early Thursday, genuine tweets about Wilson were interspersed with ads for male erectile dysfunction: "Joe Wilson Cialis $1.9 Viagra $1.1 (Web site address)"In the book, we learn that the word "shmuck" is a highly nuanced synonym for the membrum virilis, so its comically appropriate that the medicine for a dysfunctional shmuck should accrue to someone who acted like a shmuck.In fact, that's what this book does- like all really good books, it gives you a new lens with which to view the world. It installs in your consciousness a virtual Mentsh-O-Meter (or shmuckometer) and you may find yourself, like I have, observing the needle waver from Shmuck to Mentsh with every character you meet, whether in fiction, the news, or in your life. And, most significantly, it has a way of interposing itself on your own actions and decisions.All in all, a fun read, with the encyclopedic insight and wit that Wex brought to his previous works.

  • By Ed in California on February 17, 2017

    Superb! the Groundhog Day movie analogy is appropriate. This book helpsus realize how many opportunites we have to help others in everyday circumstaces and thereby also help ourselves.

  • By M. Segelstein on September 9, 2009

    This book has actually already had an influence on my life. First of all, I love the cover. The retro colors and design are amazing and fit the contents of the book, which has actually helped me already to solve some issues I've had with some frenemies of mine. The book takes you through a journey of "how to be" in the world. Like, how to live among other people. But its NOT a self-help book at all. Its actually a hilarious read from start to finish. Its the kind of book you can give your teenager's teachers to use in class, because it combines humor with etymology with Jewish history. I was amazed at how much I loved it. Well, not totally amazed. I read Born to Kvetch too after hearing Terry Gross interview Michael Wex on NPR and loved that and gave it to lots of my friends as a gift. This book is a wonderful sequel to that, the connecting points being Jews, language and lots of fun. I am also really impressed with Mr/ Wex's knowledge of history and Jewish ethics. I will buy a bunch of these as gifts this year, for sure.

  • By Guest on October 10, 2009

    In the 18th century, Freiherr Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig Knigge wrote a sociological and social-psychological book on "Interaction with Men" which is actually better than its reputation. In German, "Knigge" has become a standard phrase for these kind of works. For me, I will substitute "Knigge" with "Wex." "How to Be a Mentsh (& Not a Shmuck)" is not just a work by a gifted enlightener like Knigge has been; it's the work of a scholar who sums up the essence of his knowledge to analyse human interaction -- and it is the work of an exceptional entertainer. Grounded in the talmud and the commentaries, the book is a great ride through many fields on the way to understand what happens when one human being encounters another. It is very well written, funny and an intellectual challenge at the same time. And it's not a guide (although it can be read as one). From what I've read by the author since the mid-nineties, there's only one challenge left for him; the hardest: Michael Wex should write a book for kids. Five stars and my highest recommendations.

  • By Budowitz on September 9, 2009

    The best book on the subject since Dale Carnegie's "How to win friends and influence people." This book is a must read on so many levels. First, for social misfits who can't seem to figure out why folks avoid them, and breath mints turn out not to be the answer: Read this. You'll learn why. Dilemmas of the daily kind are solved with historical and cultural details. And for linguists, this book will tell you where your favorite words come from, but not only that, you'll learn why. The book masquerades as a coffee table novelty (read bathroom mainstay), but is in fact a treatise on how to be human in a world of mush heads. It balances beautifully the intellectual with the fun. And if you start with this, you won't want to miss Born to Kvetch. For Jews and Gentiles alike. Nope, I'm not paid to write this. These books are simply great.

  • By Rod McHugh on January 13, 2013

    The book is missing nearly a hundred pages in the middle! Besides that, I love the book..., but now I'll never be a mentsh! Free the missing pages!

  • By Cindy on August 24, 2010

    Have not read it yet, but look forward to a good read.The purchasing process was uneventful.

  • By Joseph Spiegel on January 2, 2012

    This is one of the most influential books I've read in many years. I've already sent copies to friends and family and it is always a source of discussion when we're together.

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