For a brief, nontechnical introduction to Proverbs, and wisdom literature in general, you will want this book. Longman discusses Proverbs in three sections: 1) General overview of Proverbs and wisdom; 2) How Proverbs fits into the overall theme of ancient wisdom (this includes the other wisdom books in the Bible and wisdom in other parts of the ancient world); and 3) Themes in Proverbs (money, love & marriage, wise and foolish words).
This book is not a verse by verse study of Proverbs. For that you will want a commentary, such as that by Dave Bland or Bruce Waltke (see my reviews). Instead, this book is an introduction to Proverbs and the nature of wisdom literature.
Chapter one is entitled "Why Read Proverbs?" Below are comments from that chapter:
"Wisdom is the skill of living." (P.14)
"Wisdom entails the ability to avoid problems, and the skill to handle them when they present themselves. Wisdom also includes the ability to interpret other people's speech and writing in order to react correctly to what they are saying to us." (Pp.14-15)
Proverbs is more about E.Q. (emotional quotient) than I.Q. (intelligent quotient). Proverbs uses stories of animals (Prov. 24-28). "These animals don't have a high I.Q., but the verses plainly describe a skill in living that is remarkable."
"People who have a high I.Q. know many facts; they can solve difficult mathematical equations. Their ability to reason and use logic is superior to others'. People with emotional intelligence have other abilities, including `self-control, zeal and persistence and the ability to motivate oneself ... to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one's moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think...'" (Longman quotes from Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence). Biblical wisdom is closer to EQ than IQ. (P.15-16)
"Wisdom is a skill, a `knowing how': it is not raw intellect, a `knowing that.'" "Why read Proverbs, then? To gain wisdom, which is an ability to navigate life." (P.16)
You'll appreciate the insights Longman's book will give you to get a handle on wisdom in general and Proverbs in particular. I recommend it.