I am not one for Self Help books. I always eyed that section of the bookstore with disdain. How can a book help me? Books are for pleasure, an escape, not to lecture me about my flaws. When I heard that Tim Gunn released a new book, I was intrigued. I always looked up to Tim Gunn. I have hardly watched “Project Runway.” (I’ve been meaning to catch a season one day.) But from what I have seen from him in various talk shows, I always liked what he had to say and instantly held a high respect for him. So of course, a book where he gives advice on various life situations automatically interested me. I just wasn’t expecting that I would have to go through three different Borders’ Self Help sections to find “Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work.”
For those who haven’t heard of Tim Gunn, here’s a little bit about him: He was the chair of the fashion design department at Parsons The New School for Design (One of the top design schools in the world). He has co-host “Project Runway” with Heidi Klum for all of its 8 seasons. In addition, he is the chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne Inc. Suffice to say, the guy KNOWS fashion. As being a prominent member of the fashion world, Gunn has experienced all the societal highs and lows that come from being in such a business. That gives him a new level of interest and more of a right to offer advice to people who simply want to succeed.
In his book, Gunn offers 18 rules that we should live by. Those rules range from “taking the high road” to “taking risks” to “just being nice.” Each chapter is a rule and those chapters are filled with anecdotes from Gunn’s family and professional life. The book may call the rules “golden,” but the stories he shares are pure platinum. If you are knowledgeable or intrigued by the fashion world, his stories about certain designers and fashion events are hilarious and ridiculous. (Anna Wintour being carried down 5 flights of stairs because she didn’t want to take the elevator with anyone is only just one of them.) He also mentions his childhood and family throughout the book, offering little anecdotes that are vary from being funny, happy, sad and heartwarming. (One of the most interesting facts about Gunn is that his father was a FBI agent and J. Edgar Hoover’s ghostwriter.)
The tone of the book is just right. You instantly love Gunn from only the first few pages. I never felt lectured or told what to do while reading this book. By the end of each chapter, I agreed with everything Gunn said. He emphasizes the importance of education and culture in our lives:
“…I also believe culture can genuinely improve your life. You can be too rich and too thin, but you can never be too well read or too curious about the world.”
It’s hard to disagree with him there.
He puts everything in the right perspective, and it made me feel better about myself: I’m still young, and I have so much work to do, but it is all completely worth it. (And thank God, my parents raised me cultured!) In essence, he says that the people who work hardest doing what they love to do are the best people.
I finished this book feeling great and refreshed. I didn’t leave the book memorizing every etiquette rule and detail. I don’t remember all of them. But I do remember the stories and feelings, and if ever I am in the same situation, I feel like I’ll know better. Thinking now, I wish this book was around when I was a little younger; I keep remembering all the instances where I should have taken the high road or looked harder for inspiration. This book is a must read for young adults everywhere. For every shy, confused young folk out there, Tim Gunn was once like you. And if you don’t want to grow up to be just like Tim Gunn, its okay but still read the book. This book is about making you realize that you can succeed by being yourself and being open and considerate to the people and things around us. And as hard as it is for me to admit, that also includes me being open and considerate to the Self Help section at the bookstore.
“Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work” is now available in stores. (Go get it or you’ll regret it!)