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Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Alan Alda

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4321324,401 (3.44)8
Member:clamairy
Title:Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
Authors:Alan Alda
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Audio, Listened to
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Audio, Listened 2012

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Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda (2007)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I should have a shelf called "I knew better". This audiobook would go right in the center, if I had.

Alda's passionate, articulate, engaging but somehow I still found this book both fatuous and smarmy. I don't think it's intentional, of course. I found it desperately annoying. Maybe it's my own bias showing- if I'm deeply touched, I generally respond with humor or sarcasm (preferably both at once), and I think I am embarrassed in the presence of ingenuous emotions like Alda's. And a little voice in my head adds gratuitously, "especially at his age". It's a sincerely sentimental book full of earnestly sweet and genuinely good advice. Nevertheless, I couldn't wait for it to be over. That's more about me than Alda, isn't it? ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Though I should have been reading other books, I simply had to sit and listen to Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. My parents raised me to appreciate M*A*S*H, and so I've always had an interest in Alan Alda. Of course, as Alda discusses, celebrity is a strange thing, and celebrities often disappoint on closer inspection. I will probably never meet Alan Alda, so I can't say whether he would disappoint if I did meet him, but listening to this audiobook has only made me admire him more.

The title is a strange one, and means exactly what it says. In Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, Alan Alda considers various speeches he gave throughout his life, such as commencements and eulogies. He looks back at what he said then and tries to boil down them down to what he really believes and what he really wants to pass on to people about living life. While initially skeptical about this construct, it proves to be an incredibly fascinating pursuit, as he learns from his past self.

No doubt this book will also lose him fans. Alan Alda is a very political man. He has very strong opinions on things like equal rights and the environment and the arms race. I happen to agree with him on pretty much all of this, so I appreciate his candor, but those staunchly on the other side of the spectrum will likely be offended.

Alda makes several basic observations and then looks at them again and again. Still, the book managed not to come across as repetitive, though it might seem that way to those less interested in continual philosophical musings. His thoughts on the divide between the humanities and science are especially compelling.

For those looking for an in depth look at Alan Alda's life, this is not the place to get it. He does mention his family quite often and famous friends too, but they are not the point of the book. They are sometimes illustrative of an argument he's trying to make, but this is not a biography. The subjects covered are those dealt with in speeches to a public audience, so he mostly skims the surface of private life.

If you read Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, I recommend the audio highly, because, hello, you can listen to Alan Alda. He has a unique and delightful voice, so immediately recognizable as him. He's a delight to listen to, and who better to tell his story than him? ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Title: Haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but this has got to be the best title ever for a memoir/autobiography.
  lonepalm | Dec 8, 2011 |
Fantastic book about a fantastic actor and all round nice human being. ( )
  strtrek | Jan 3, 2011 |
I love Alan Alda, and loved hearing him read this audiobook. I wasn't thrilled with his previous memoir, but this one was somewhat better. A bit too much of a rehashing of talks he's given, linked together with anecdotes, but still fun.
1 vote mochap | Nov 25, 2009 |
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I was so glad not to have died that day that I made it my new birthday.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812977521, Paperback)

Picking up where his bestselling memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed left off–having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile–beloved actor and acclaimed author Alan Alda offers an insightful and funny look at 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 sixties, to his first Broadway show, to the birth of his children, to the ache of September 11, and beyond. Reflecting on the transitions in his life and in all our lives, he notices that “doorways are where the truth is told,” and wonders if there’s one thing–art, activism, family, money, fame–that 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 hilarious meditations on questions great and small.

Praise for Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

“Engagingly thoughtful and thought-provoking . . . [Alan Alda] candidly shares many stories of his life, so easily and wittily you can hear him speak as you read.”
Sydney Sun Herald

“Alda is chatty, easygoing and humble, rather like a Mr. Rogers for grownups. His words of inspiration would be a perfect gift for a college grad or for anyone facing major life changes.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Smart, engaged, funny and observant.”
San Antonio Express-News

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The popular actor looks back to reassess the meaning of his own life and the paths he has taken, from the turbulent 1960s to the tragedy of September 11, and to answer such questions as "What do I value?" and "What, exactly, is the good life?"

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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