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Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself Hardcover – 4 Sep 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st Edition edition (4 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066174
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066179
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

From the bestselling author of NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED comes a book that is candid, wise and as questioning as it is incisive. Alan Alda amuses and moves us with his uniquely witty meditations on questions great and small. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

‘The message is consistent: it’s not what you do in life, but how you do it. Notice everything. Always be open to new ideas, new experiences. Alda is chatty, easygoing and humble … His words of inspiration would be a perfect gift.’ Publishers Weekly Acclaimed actor and internationally bestselling author Alan Alda has written a shrewd and funny account of some impossible questions he’s asked himself over the years: what do I value? What, exactly, is the good life? (And what does that even mean?) Here, Alda listens in on things he’s heard himself saying at critical points in his life – from the turbulence of the 60s, to his first Broadway show, to the birth of his children, and to the ache of September 11. He notices that ‘doorways are where the truth is told’, and wonders what one thing – art, activism, family, money, fame – could lead to a ‘life of meaning’. In a book that is candid, wise and as questioning as it is incisive, Alda amuses and moves us with his uniquely witty meditations on questions great and small. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger on 3 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF is a great example of recycling done right. Each of the sixteen chapters is built around a commencement speech or other talk given by Alan Alda, but with a wealth of new material from him on the Meaning Of Life.

It's a difficult topic but Alda has as much right as anyone to give it a crack. He builds on his near-death experience in Chile and tells stories of his childhood, his family, his career, and people who touched his life. In each case the story is entwined with the speech to illustrate a life lesson. The editing may be a bit loose in some cases, and the book meanders toward a conclusion, as if you were taking a leisurely stroll with a wise and confident friend.

An example of Alda's meandering is the chapter named "A Passion for Reason." For reasons not made entirely clear, he was asked to give a talk on Thomas Jefferson to a group of historians, Jefferson scholars, and trustees of Monticello. Also for reasons not clear to him at the time ("Sure ... That sounds like fun"), he accepted.

Alda came to understand that he accepted because the prospect terrified him. "Nothing feels as good to me as doing something I know how to do. But if I do it too many times, it feels easy and a little slick; it loses some of its pleasure." In the end he found a key to the meaning of Jefferson's life through the work of a scientist in China. I was interested in the way Alda challenged himself and coped with his fears, even if for me there was no "a-ha! moment" in the connection between Jefferson and the Chinese rice paddy.

In the chapter "Celebrity and its Discontents," Alda writes about his Grand Rounds lecture at Cornell Medical School.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this on the back of his life story, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed' which was an absolute joy from beginning to end.

Alan Alda is clearly a man with a wise head on his shoulders and he builds each chapter around speeches he has given throughout his life.

There is definitely plenty of good things to take from his words of wisdom (he is a man of great morals and a very deep thinker), but as a read, I found it didn't always hold my attention.

Different, clever and interesting, but not the easiest of reads.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. Cartmel on 15 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This books okay, but there's too much similar to his first book, and it's a bit too disjointed. If you like Alan Alda buy his first book "Never have your dog stuffed" in preference.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Oct. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I bought this on the back of his life story, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed' which was an absolute joy from beginning to end.

Alan Alda is clearly a man with a wise head on his shoulders and he builds each chapter around speeches he has given throughout his life.

There is definitely plenty of good things to take from his words of wisdom (he is a man of great morals and a very deep thinker), but as a read, I found it didn't always hold my attention.

Different, clever and interesting, but not the easiest of reads.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Graceann Macleod on 5 Jun. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps I would have enjoyed Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself if I had listened to it, rather than reading it cold. Unfortunately, the book is not what I was expecting. I was hoping to read more anecdotes such as what he presented in Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, but this is a recitation of his various speeches, commencement addresses and eulogies, with some personal information used as set-up for those orations.

The set-ups to the speeches are the best part of the book. The stories of his first daughter when she was an infant; the heartbreaking story of the rabbits; his friendships with Ossie Davis, Peter Jennings and Anne Bancroft. This is the Alan Alda I wanted to read. I wasn't particularly interested in the advice he had for college graduates, scientists, or even other actors. His life as he's lived it is infinitely interesting, and I would have liked to have learned more about it.

It's certainly a worthwhile read for fans of Alan Alda (and I definitely count myself in that number). It is not the compelling read that I was counting on, however, and this is a pity.
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By Adam Pearce on 11 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any fans of Alan Alda should definitely go out and buy this book. It's a little shorter than his first book, but it's a good read nonetheless.
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