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Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women

By: Arnold Bennett

Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women is one of the many self help books that Bennett wrote, the most famous of these being How to Live 24 Hours a Day. It is highly readable, amusing and offers wisdom in an extremely palatable form. Bennett's gift for analysis and his knowledge of philosophy and psychology make this book a valuable treasure trove of handy hints to improve our lives. Though it was first published in 1911, it remains as relevant, wise and useful as it did more than a hundred years ago.

Originally intended for American audiences, the book opens with a discussion on the nature of mental efficiency as opposed to physical efficiency that was, and still is, worshiped in America and many other countries today. The author presents his ideas in the form of correspondence between himself and various readers who have asked him certain questions regarding the problems they face in life. He recommends keeping a journal that will help people to perform what he calls “mental calisthenics.”


Bennett defines mental efficiency as the ability to read, write and think. He considers it to be one of the keystones of human contentment. Some of the other chapters deal with topics like “Expressing One's Individuality” “Breaking with the Past” “Settling down in Life” “Marriage” “Books” “Success” and many more such interesting subjects. The counsel and wisdom offered here are garnished by anecdotes and the author's own thoughts and opinions, making it an interesting read for young and old. Arnold Bennett's wonderful use of the English language, his witty and humorous asides, his easy conversational style and practical tips add to the appeal of the book.


Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women is indeed a timeless classic that can benefit readers of all ages.

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Bennett is best known for his novels and short stories, many of which are set in a fictionalised version of the Potteries, which he called The Five Towns. He strongly believed that literature should b...

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