For all the good advice Caroline Tiger offers on how to endure louts and the dreadful situations they put us in, I finished her miniature disquisition on decorum, How to Behave: A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged, still pondering a most galling (and perhaps wholly unresolvable) curiosity: How can people be so oblivious? Just what is—or isn’t—going through the mind of the woman repeatedly kicking the back of an occupied seat in a movie theater? Or the guy gripping an enormous golf umbrella on a narrow city sidewalk? Or the horror who snatches a cab away from someone on crutches? We may never know just what motivates such boorishness, but Tiger readies us to meet the mooncalves with an army of retorts and reactions that are often helpful, intermittently clever, and unfailingly amusing. She covers a lot of territory in a little book, from department-store perfume spritzers to yoga-class transgressors, and speaks to both the violated and the potential violator alternately—who among us has not overlooked proper escalator etiquette? The advice ranges from the practical (“Guests should tip chambermaids at least a dollar a day for every day they’ve stayed in the room”) to the inventive (“In a voice loud enough so the pole hugger can hear, say that researchers took samples from the poles and handrails of a bunch of subway cars and found traces of feces”) to the axiomatic (“Wash your hands with soap before returning to work”) to the vengeful (“Create a voodoo doll of your cubicle neighbor”). In the introduction, Tiger asserts that “people need some guidelines to keep from being inexcusably rude.” She executes this mission superbly, for example, in a section on supermarket shopping (“Park the cart to the side of the aisle, as close to the shelves as possible, when you pause to pick up a food item”), but elsewhere, Tiger’s charge is less explicit: How does including an inventory of “How to Know You Love Someone” (“Your heart beats faster at the prospect of seeing him or her”) combat social barbarism? Regardless, How to Behave is a reassuring read for those who believe they’re the only ones driven to madness by the incivility of others—even enough consolation to inspire some refined magnanimity: To the beast who grabbed that cab and left me flailing on the street corner for another 10 minutes, I’m sure your unseemly self-regard was thoroughly unintentional. —Jennifer Agresta