Recently, I received a copy of As A Lady Would Say: Responses to Life's Important (and Sometimes Awkward) Situations. I was drawn to it because it specifically deals with uncomfortable situations, something most other etiquette books tend to gloss over.
I have to say, much of this could be lumped into common sense. But there are some unique situations that I found myself thinking, "Say x!" when actually, x is something you ought not say. The format of the book makes it very easy to read: it starts with "61 Things Every Well-Spoken Lady Knows" - things like Unless she is teaching an English class, a lady does not correct another person's grammar or A lady never begins a statement with "I don't mean to embarrass you but..." It then moves on to a Situation, What Not to Say, What to Say, and Explanation format:
When an acquaintance asks a lady how much she has paid for an item of clothing or some other personal property...
She does not say:
"Why are you asking?"
"I can't believe you'd ask that."
"Probably more than you could afford."
But she does say:
"Gee, I'm not sure I remember."
Whether this response is accurate or simply a means of escaping an awkward situation, it may short-circuit any further probing. If the nosy acquaintance continues to push, saying, "Oh, come now, that dress must have cost $750," a lady may simply close the discussion by saying, "I'm sorry, but I'd rather not talk about that."
Sometimes the "do not says" are totally outlandish and rude - something anyone with even a tiny bit of tact or grace, or with a bare minimal etiquette knowledge, would know not to say. But there are genuinely good and interesting examples in there (When a loved one of a lady's friend or coworker has committed suicide; when a friend asks to borrow an item that a lady does not wish to lend; when a lady must ask the lady in the next stall in a public restroom for some toilet paper... XD).
I didn't agree 100% with everything, and some of her responses seem a bit stiff, but they give you the general jist, and she always provides an explanation of why something should be said. I was also happy to see that apologizing needlessly or being pushed over was very much a no-no according to this book; no apologizing for the rude actions of a guest you bring to a party, no apologizing if your date doesn't like the movie you chose for the two of you to watch, no responding to inflammatory comments someone might make about your significant other. Instead, just acknowledge that the person behaved badly to the host and promise not to bring them again, or next time you want to see a movie you know your date will hate ask a friend, or direct the maker of ill comments about your S.O. to go take it up with your S.O. and not bother you with such talk.
So, if you're like me and find yourself with ungracious habits and drawing a blank sometimes at life's more uncomfortable moments, I would recommend giving this a read.