Mark Twain's Helpful Hints for Good Living
Mark Twain

Book cover image

Narrated By: Grover Gardner

Duration: 4 hours and 23 minutes

What to expect

Irreverent, charming, and eminently quotable, this handbook—an eccentric etiquette guide for the human race—contains sixty-nine aphorisms, anecdotes, whimsical suggestions, maxims, and cautionary tales from Mark Twain’s private and published writings. It dispenses advice and reflections on family life and public manners; opinions on topics such as dress, health, food, and childrearing and safety; and more specialized tips, such as those for dealing with annoying salesmen and burglars. Culled from Twain’s personal letters, autobiographical writings, speeches, novels, and sketches, these pieces are delightfully fresh, witty, startlingly relevant, and bursting with Twain’s characteristic ebullience for life. They also remind us exactly how Mark Twain came to be the most distinctive and well-known American literary voice in the world. These texts, some of them new or out of print for decades, have been selected and meticulously prepared by the editors at the Mark Twain Project.


Anthologies: general, Humour, Anthologies: general, Literature: history and criticism

Listen to a sample

“This is a masterfully edited compendium that does Twain proud. It captures the note-taking, aphorism-creating, angry-letter-writing essence of Twain’s brain in a way essential, I think, to understanding the man, and by extension, the history of the United States and the nature of life on Earth.”

Dave Eggers

“Few collections could be wiser, funnier, or more, well, sane than Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living…Twain may have been dead for nearly a century, but the careful sting of his eminently quotable prose will continue to live long after the Sonic Youth concert has emptied out, instant messaging has fallen by the wayside, and the workplace fridge raider has been sternly warned away from your Black Forest ham sandwich.”

O, The Oprah Magazine

“This book is a delightful read all the way through.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“This wonderful book illustrates precisely why we can never have enough Twain. His humor is timeless, his wisdom about all things without equal.”

Ken Burns, American director and producer

“Twain came to understand himself as ‘a moralist in disguise,’ and this collection reveals that truth clearly, without jettisoning any of his humor. If you are wrestling with how to advance stimulating dinner conversation, what to do with unwanted magazine subscriptions, how to deal with the ‘odious flummery’ of fashion, or whether or not to bring your dog to the next funeral, Twain is here to offer his gentle guidance. Old chestnuts and surprising obscurities are provided in a refreshed context through the rich and illuminating annotations of the ever brilliant editorial team at the Mark Twain Papers.”

John Boyer, executive director of the Mark Twain House and Museum

“A delightful display of Mark Twain’s wit and humor loosely tied together under the guise of an advice book. Containing some things old, some things new, some things borrowed (in parody), but nothing blue, this charming collection of old favorites and new releases will guide you through life’s exigencies in fine spirits, if not in fine form. Twain’s advice occasionally touches the sublime, but only in the form of the ridiculous. This is the perfect gift book for any aficionado of Mark Twain, any connoisseur of the risible, or any stuffed-shirt who needs to lighten up.”

Gregg Camfield, author of The Oxford Companion to Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living is a real discovery as well as a delight. It brings us fresh material from an old friend and rediscovers great moments from the long shelves of his published writings. It’s the best, most reliable collection of Mark Twain as social observer, moralist, and comic genius.”

Bruce Michelson, author of Mark Twain on the Loose

“This book serves up an elegant taste of Mark Twain’s love for the food of the American South, spiced generously with his celebrated wit. Food lovers and humorists alike will revel in the timeless wisdom gathered here.”