Although it's a book about creating portraits, it's not about lightening patterns, or poses or anything like that, it's more about how to create images of people that go a little bit deeper. As you have probably guessed from the title, the book is divided into 30 exercises, all tackling a different way to show your subject. For example, there are exercises for working with the light available, creating candids, bringing the environment into the frame to add support to the portrait, how changing perspective can alter how the image is viewed, some different compositions, and so on. There is only a few pages of text in each chapter / exercise, so it's not full on and is easily digested. I should point out that It's not really a technical book - it's definitely not about which aperture or shutter speed to use, or how to set up your camera, it is really aimed more at those who are happy enough with the basics.
What I like best about it is that it is that you don't have to read from beginning to end: you can read a chapter, go out and try the exercise and then, when you are ready, or just feel in need of some inspiration, you can come back and try another one. It doesn't even matter if you do them in order - you can just read and try the exercises that you want to. This is great for me because I never really seem to find the time to sit and quietly leaf through a photography book from beginning to end, so being able to dip in and out of it when I want to is great. Sometimes somebody just telling you what to shoot is a good thing!
My original concern about this book was whether it could be used for family / child / lifestyle photography - as I mainly take pictures of children and not really traditional portraits. Although it only has one chapter specifically aimed at taking pictures of children, and one on family, I think ALL of the exercises could be used in that way. That's certainly how i've been doing it! Whether your subject is a child or an adult doesn't really matter, the principle is the same.
In short, this is not a book for beginners who want to learn the basics or get more technical information about taking portraits, so it's definitely best for those who have an understanding of their camera. Although there is advice on light and lenses etc within the context of the exercise, it is a really more a source of inspiration and a guide for helping you experiment - if you find yourself taking the same pictures over and over again, or are doing a P52 / 365 and want to have something that you can use for ideas, then this book is ideal for you.
All in all, I think this is a gem of a book, and definitely not one I would not have initially considered (my husband picked this up for me) but it's one I have found myself dipping into time and time again.