Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Good Talk Book Review and 5 Book Giveaway


This review is now closed. Thanks for stopping by!

I often wondered how some people can talk a blue streak, where others, like myself are usually not very gabby. At times, I have questioned myself as to whether or I was too boring or asking too many questions in a conversation. Is conversation an actual art form that can be learned? Is there a history behind conversation?

Daniel Menaker tackles these questions as he explores the history of conversation and dissects one of his own conversations in a humorous way in his latest book, A Good Talk.

About The Author: (from the book's DJ) Daniel Menaker has written for many publications including the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Slate.com, and he has authored several works of fiction-two of them New York Times notable books. Well known in the literary community for his career in magazines and book publishing, he is widely read and well versed in psychological theories and practices. You can visit his website at www.danielmenaker.com.

About the Book: (from the book's DJ) After discussing the origins of language and social talk, this concise and often hilarious take on the most exclusively human of all activities (along with calculus) explains how good conversations work. Focusing on first encounters and a single recorded exchange, the author shows that such talks have four stages: Survey, Discovery, Risk and Roles. He then addresses the deeper concerns that underlie conversations and their common social dilemmas and opportunities, from insults to instant messaging, from dating to dinner-ordering, from the value of humor to the handling of hubris. A Good Talk considers the physical benefits of conversation and its indispensable place in our social, moral and political lives.

The Review: I admit, I was drawn to read this book in search of some tips and skills for better conversations. The author provides advice on changing the subject and tips for dealing with bores - like top tens. Discussing top 10 movies, books, foods, which he says, often leads to amusing and sometimes heated discussions. But the book goes far beyond conversational tips.

I was surprised to read what studies reveal about gossip. Menaker discusses gossip as a "real and respectable form of converstion". According to social psychologist Nicholas Emler, more than 80 percent of our talk is about other specific and named individuals. This is how humans "examine their own in-bounds and out-of-bounds behavior. Gossip is respectable, universal and essential." Communication, for no immediate reason is the most human of all of our behaviors.

He discusses some interesting aspects of conversation. Gaffes, for example, can destroy a conversation "more violently" than anything else and gives an example of his own gaffe in conversation. (Have you heard some of our Vice President's gaffes? We're laughing at you Joe!)

Menaker refers to some conversations as "dieseling" where the conversation sputters away longer than it should. I could identify with sputtering conversations, I usually try to get out of them when I am on the phone!

Menaker described conversation as a play. As a conversation develops the two people often take on defined rolls, such as confessor and confessee, advisor and advisee, pursuer and pursuee, and so on.

I found the chapter called Talking History informative. In the book, Menaker cites how Socrates challenged political, moral and philisophical wisdom by his "fiendishly leading questions", thus re-defining conversation.

In 44 B.C. Cicero, a powerful Roman elder wrote the essay De Officiis (On Duties) in the form of a letter to his son. Menaker quotes from Cicero's De Officiis because it basically sums up all the rules of conversation. Conversation should be easy, witty, allow others to participate, and take the subject matter seriously, if serious, humorously if humorous. Most importantly, the conversation should not betray some defect in his character, referring to taking delight in making malicious and slanderous statements about people behind their back. These conversational rules easily apply today.

I enjoyed reading the actual conversation that he had with another young writer. Even though the conversation flowed nicely, it took many surprising turns. The two talked about writing, work, teaching, music, age, marriage and dating. (I was most interested in the young writer's story about how she was discovered by a successful agent who had read her simple story on pet sitting in New York. She talked about her insecurities as well as her goals and dreams for her writing. )

The book section called Frequently Arising Quandries (not frequently asked questions!) explores subjects like prepared remarks, conversations when dating and kidding around in conversation.

Menaker believes that we don't have physical conversations as much as we should. Out-of-person communications, like email and cell phones always lack one or more of the real dimensions of real conversation. So much of our "intercourse" does take place electronically these days. He says, "I believe that every time people talk together in a social and mutually gratifying way, the world becomes a better place." In his book, Menaker makes the case for conversation and its vital place in our social and moral lives with cleverness and humor.

Check it Out: Read a few lines of A Good Talk with the Open book browser below.


Buy It: A Good Talk is available on Amazon.com for $13.60.



This review is now closed. Thanks for stopping by!


GIVEAWAY: Thank you to Anna and the Hachette Book Group for providing five copies of A Good Talk for this giveaway.

THE RULES:

--U.S. and Canadian residents only.
--NO P. O. BOXES, PLEASE
--One comment is needed for each entry.
--Include your email address in your comments.

1. Mandatory entry - Think about the last really great conversation you had. Comment on who was it with and (unless it's too personal) what it was about. My last great conversation was with my good friend Jane. (We were talking about blogging!)

Extra Entries:

2. Follow my blog. (2 entries)
3. Grab my button and put it on your site and add a link in your comment telling me where it is. (3 entries)
4. Tweet about this giveaway and leave the Tweet URL in a comment. (2 entries)
5. Subscribe via email. (3 entries)
6. Sign up for Networked Blogs (Facebook - located on the right side) (2 entries)


This Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada and will end on Wednesday, 3/03/10 at 12:00 pm EST. Please include your email address in all comments. The winners will be selected using Random.org and I will post the winners names by 5:00 pm EST on Wed. 3/03/10. Thank you to all who enter and good luck!

This review is now closed. Thanks for stopping by!


56 comments:

Linda Kish said...

My last really good conversation was with my sister who has been having problems with depression and just came out of treatment for same.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

rss subscriber

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Jennifer said...

Mine was with my mom about my oldest starting kindergarten!!

Jennifer said...

I follow your blog #1

Jennifer said...

I follow your blog #2

Jennifer said...

I tweeted #1: https://twitter.com/jkgorcery/status/8928644467

Jennifer said...

I tweeted #2: https://twitter.com/jkgorcery/status/8928644467

Jennifer said...

I have your button in my blog #1: http://whateverandbeyond.blogspot.com

Jennifer said...

I have your button in my blog #2: http://whateverandbeyond.blogspot.com

Jennifer said...

I have your button in my blog #3: http://whateverandbeyond.blogspot.com

Jennifer said...

I subscribe via email #1

Jennifer said...

I subscribe via email #2

Jennifer said...

I subscribe via email #3

Katy~The Country Blossom said...

Well...I had two last great conversations....one~last night with my husband..it was a beautiful conversation with love and communication! :) (I love moments like that...don't you?) and another one I had was with one of my closest friends who just had a baby a lil over a month ago. We were talking about the changes to a woman's body after giving birth...ahahahah!

thecountryblossom AT hotmail DOT com

Busy Working Mama said...

My last good conversation was with my husband. He's job searching and we discussed his career plans. I love planning with him.
aleksa91(at)hotmail.com

Busy Working Mama said...

#1 email subscriber

Busy Working Mama said...

#2 email subscriber

Busy Working Mama said...

#3 email subscriber

one frugal lady said...

My last good conversation was with my mom, a few weeks ago, when she was at my house. We have been putting off some important issues that had to be delt with concerning my grandmother and her old age. I felt good that it was over though!
onecheaplady@yahoo.com

one frugal lady said...

I follow moms own words on blogger!
entry #1
onecheaplady@yahoo.com

one frugal lady said...

I follow moms own words on blogger!
entry #2
onecheaplady@yahoo.com

one frugal lady said...

I subscribe to mom's own words via e-mail!
entry #1
onecheaplady@yahoo.com

one frugal lady said...

I subscribe to mom's own words via e-mail!
entry #2
onecheaplady@yahoo.com

one frugal lady said...

I subscribe to mom's own words via e-mail!
entry #3
onecheaplady@yahoo.com

Kjun said...

My last great conversation was with my one year old. I don't know what he was saying, but it's all about the way he said it ;).
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com
Kristin M.

Kjun said...

I'm a blog follower. #1
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com

Kjun said...

I'm a blog follower #2.
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com

Kjun said...

I'm an email subscriber #1.
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com

Kjun said...

I'm an email subscriber #2.
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com

Kjun said...

I'm an email subscriber #3.
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com

Kjun said...

I'm a networked blogs follower #1.
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com

Kjun said...

I'm a networked blogs follower #2.
teachinaggie354@hotmail.com

Mass Hole Mommy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rhonda said...

It was with my friend and we were catching up with each other

rhondastruthers at yahoo dot ca

Rhonda said...

I follow

rhondastruthers at yahoo dot ca

Rhonda said...

I subscribe

Michelle said...

My last great conversation was with a co-worker - talking about Valentine's Day and the true meaning of love.

mandm_2002 at hotmail dot com

stiletto storytime said...

I follow!

stilettostorytiime(at)gmail(dot) com

stiletto storytime said...

My last great conversation was with my husband about how our son has become our entire world and we could not live without him. (He just turned one.)

Busy Working Mama said...

1 blog follower
aleksa91@hotmail.com

Busy Working Mama said...

2 blog follower
aleksa91@hotmail.com

clmartin said...

My last good talk was with my husband about having a second child :)

clmartin said...

now following on networked blogs 1

clmartin said...

now following on networked blogs 2

clmartin said...

email follower 1
feketecl@hotmail.com

clmartin said...

email follower 2
feketecl@hotmail.com

clmartin said...

email follower 3
feketecl@hotmail.com

Perfect Blue Moon said...

last good conversation would have had to be online with a couple people, a religious discussion, scary I know eh?!

Anna
perfectbluemoon@gmail[dot]com

Perfect Blue Moon said...

I tweeted about this giveaway! (1)
http://twitter.com/perfectbluemoon/status/9828590633

Anna
perfectbluemoon@gmail[dot]com

Perfect Blue Moon said...

I tweeted about this giveaway! (2)
http://twitter.com/perfectbluemoon/status/9828590633

Anna
perfectbluemoon@gmail[dot]com

jceko77 said...

My last good converstaion was with my father-in-law and we were discussing my nephew
jceko77@yahoo.com

K said...

My last good conversation was with a friend who had a very similar labor and delivery to my own. We were talking about how the experience impacted us.

romancingthestork at gmail

K said...

Google friend follower! (1)

romancingthestork at gmail

K said...

Google friend follower! (2)

romancingthestork at gmail

Lady V dZine said...

The last really good talk I had was with my friend Marcella, and it was about the history and polity of church.
ladyvdzine[at]yahoo[dot]com

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