Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
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Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  1,665 ratings  ·  305 reviews
On the heels of his acclaimed memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, beloved actor and bestselling author Alan Alda has written Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, an insightful and funny look at some of the 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?)
Picking up where his bes...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Random House Audio (first published 2007)
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Amy
This book pulls out all the stops and sets your emotions rolling. I cried during the chapter about 9/11 when a lady in Kansas not knowing what else to do baked a cake or the gentleman who said what they really missed at ground zero was something as simple as a candy bar. You could feel the immense feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the people represented in this chapter.

I laughed out loud about a conversation that he and Peter Jennings had one evening when Peter said that "Yes, and I think I...more
Lisa
In the spirit of full disclosure, Alan Alda has always reminded me of my own father; As such, I think I would enthusiastically applaud his reading of the yellow pages. I knew that Mr. Alda was a talented actor and his turns in M*A*S*H, ER, and West Wing always thrilled me, but I didn't realize how multi-faceted he really is until this book. He was funny and introspective and provocative and warm. His words made me think: Is my life meaningful and what IS my definition of a meaningful life? I had...more
Stephanie
"And that's something else I want to tell you as we stand in this doorway today. Love your work. If you always put your heart into everything you do, you can't lose. Whether or not you wind up making a lot of money, you will have had a wonderful time, and no one will ever be able to take that away from you." ......

Throughout the decades that make up his nearly sixty-year tenure in the acting industry, Alan Alda has been asked to give countless motivational speeches at places at which he will be...more
Cate
Jan 16, 2008 Cate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cate by: npr
Got it from the library -- want a copy so I can underline all the funny and so-true quotes.

On the back of the book it says it's a great celebrity memoir, and that's true.

He's a great guy who could be a total snot and totally reclusive now that he's showing his age, BUT he doesn't! What a cool guy. Humble, honest, out there -- way out there; on top of mountains, interviewing all kinds of "little" people who are interesting. And funny -- oh so funny -- with heart.

I'm inspired and encouraged; somet...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
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.

Th...more
Jennifer
I read Alda’s Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and was entertained, but it was not life changing. Therefore, I approached this book with few expectations. I was VERY pleasantly surprised with his second book. Instead of a chronology of his life since the last book, each chapter dealt with a different facet of the question, “What is life all about?.” Alda used his earlier commencement speeches, eulogies, and script writing to examine this question. I thought it was fantastic. I especially liked his ch...more
Maryellen
Having seen umpteen episodes of M*A*S*H, I was surprised that Alda actually wrote with depth.

He reveals much about himself in this Memoir, mostly through the speeches he gave where he always left his audience much to think about. He was a comic through and through, and he looked at life with optimism. He passed on his positive outlook in every speech. He spoke at unlikely functions to persons who were experts in their field. He was surprised and scared when he was asked to speak to the graduati...more
Andrea
I listened to this on CD on a road trip this past weekend. I was astounded at the number of times Alan Alda has spoken at commencement exercises or other public forums. A lot of the book was excerpts from these "talks" he had given. I enjoyed it, though some aspects of his life he repeated many times (like his mother being schizophrenic). Not that that is a problem, but listening to it it came off as being repetitive. If I had actually been reading the book I would have highlighted several thing...more
David
I liked what Alda did with this book. It picked up right where his last book ended, but took off in a completely different direction. The book incorporated a number of speeches that Alda has given to various crowds. He not only does a great job explaining the speeches, what they mean to him, and what he thinks they can mean to others, but also gives wonderful descriptions of how nervous he was to give individual speeches and the work he did to overcome these nerves. More than taking any individu...more
Jeanette
I've very much enjoyed Alan Alda as a actor. Not so much as a writer. There's nothing bad about his writing in the technical sense, but his stories are mostly pretty dry. I guess I expected something more dynamic, based on his screen persona.

One great quote from the book:

"Name recognition is so powerful that every few years an election is won by someone whose name is well-known, but who at the time is actually dead. Which isn't all that bad, because the dead ones do less damage than the live o...more
Mandy
Alda does a wonderful job of mixing his speeches with his ruminations on life all with a sprinkling of memoir. It really worked. It was inspirational, sweet, and a little sad. I just loved it. I think it would be a great gift for a graduate.
Vivian Valvano
I would not have read this if it hadn't been assigned for one of my book groups for June. And the day that I finished reading (it only took 2 days of a couple of hours here and there), the June facilitator decided to change her book to GONE BABY, GONE! Anyway, I love Alan Alda as an actor (I have easily seen every single episode of M*A*S*H at least 5 times) and as a good person and humanitarian. But as a writer-distiller of his thoughts and reflections, he can tend to get a bit full of himself,...more
Casey
I enjoyed this even more than Never Have Your Dog Stuffed. His first autobiography was more a retelling of his life's major events and his thoughts on them. This in and of itself was both fun and insightful. This book, however, is more a collection of ponderings in the framework of various speeches and talks he's given over the years. I have come to greatly admire Alda as I read his books. I love that he's a gentle, loving person. I love that he's eternally a child at heart. I love that he cheri...more
The_Mad_Swede
Earlier this year, I read Alda's book Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned , which I really enjoyed.

Because of my appreciation of that first, wonderful and thoughtful memoir, I picked up the sequel, as it were, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, and it doesn't disappoint. Not by a long shot.

Following his near death encounter in South America and the book it caused him to write, Alda ponders on the meaning of life. He chooses to do so by looking at various speeches...more
Rach
Another truly enjoyable book by Alan Alda, and the audio book of this one has the benefit of being read by the man himself. While Alda's first book definitely falls into the genre of memoir, this one can more accurately be described as inspiration and advice. Every chapter is based around a speech Alda has given, whether it be a public commencement speech or a private conversation with family. This isn't just a transcript of those speeches, though. Alda takes the time to set up the circumstances...more
Shonna Froebel
This book is a collection of sorts. Alda has brought together some of the public addresses that he has given over his life (commencement addresses, memorial talks, etc.) and looked at what drew him to say the things he did, how successful he felt he was at conveying the meaning he wanted to convey, and what he thinks of them in hindsight. He also talks about the philosophical questions he has asked himself over his life, and how many of these talks relate in some way to those questions. Througho...more
Danielle
I like Alan Alda so much. I'm in love with him from "The West Wing" where I had to keep reminding myself that I couldn't actually vote for him, more's the pity. Anyway, I also like his voice quite a bit, so I figured I'd enjoy his reading of this book on CD, regardless of the content. As it turns out, I did, and the content was only so-so.
This book is basically a collection of talks (mostly commencement addresses) Alda has given throughout the years. So, it's heavy on the "Let's pause and get so...more
Molly
I listened to this on CD - read by Alda, who is very good, giving you the sense he's telling this story just to you. I enjoyed it, but had a few minor issues. For one, it seems to ramble somewhat at times. The other was more with the format (the audio) than the book itself; the book is a collection of Alda's speeches, as well as his reflections on them. Because sometimes he reflects in the middle of a speech - which I'm sure in the book form is expressed through formatting or paragraph breaks, b...more
Melody
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...more
Lori McLellan
Like a lot of us my opinion and image of Alan Alda was caught up in his character that he played on M*A*S*H, Hawkeye Pierce. Thankfully both his books were recommended to me and following are the things I learnt while reading Mr. Alda's books: He is funny (I guess that's a given), intelligent, compassionate, creative, caring, kind, respectful, extremely curious, introspective and insightful. He loves his family and shares his curiosity and enthusiasm with his grandchildren. And he takes time to...more
Angelique Jurd
Loved it. Alda is my favourite actor and only half way through this was already one of my favourite authors :)
He has a lovely way of writing - often funny (which I expecte) and several times made me cry (which I didn't expect) - especially when talking about his wife and children.
This is not a tell all biography - it's more a sharing of his thoughts and some of his more private moments.
I found it a joy to read and now want to read his first book - Never Have Your Dog Stuffed.
Kyla
My feelings are utterly influenced by my long-term crush on Alan Alda - stick him and Steve Martin in a blender and you have a creepy mix of either my ideal husband or Father. I said it was creepy! Collections of random writings by actors are not usually top of my hit parade but I found his collected speeches to be particularly well written and thoughtful. As someone who ponders "What does it all mean?" often, it was a nice light snack of philosophy.
Jon
This man is deeper than you think. Most people know him as a wisecracking Army surgeon on M*A*S*H but he is more than that. Not only is a great actor but a scientific thinker, a motivational speaker a father, grandfather and a long-term husband.
Although I don't agree with all his stances, I admire his deep heart and words of wisdom. The book gave me enlightenment.
Elysa
After reading Alan Alda's first book, I couldn't wait to read the second one! His writing is so enjoyable and his books are very insightful, but still entertaining. I have always loved Alan Alda as an actor and now I can say he is one of my favorite authors too!
Matt
It was okay. The book consists of old speeches Alda delivered to various audiences (funerals, professional societies, commencements, etc.) interspersed with reflections and context. Since all of these talks were ripped out of their emotion context, it's not surprising many fall flat when re-delivered. Also, given that Alda often spoke outside of his area of expertise, the speeches usually verge into the cliche and trite despite Alda pointing out over and over, in so many words, that he doesn't w...more
Rachel

Disappointing. I guess I wanted Hawkeye Pierce, not Alan Alda.
Zach
Not great. MASH is still (in my opinion) one of the greatest TV shows and when I was a kid, I was sure Hawkeye Pierce was based on my dad (later learned Korea/Vietnam--different) I had heard good things about Alda's previous book, however the library only had this available.

Most of the book are parts from speeches Alda has given, mostly at college commencements and the book is very similar to most commencement speeches I have heard--it tries to impart lofty guidance about how to live life to th...more
Dawn Frost
While I was surprised at the abrupt beginning of this book, I was amazed at how much could be gleaned from the talks Alan Alda has presented during his adult life. For those who are old enough to remember him as Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H and even before that for his roles both acting, writing, and directing in various films, and his later runs on Broadway, this is a personal look into the private life of an acclaimed actor as he tries to discover the meaning of life through the various commencem...more
Paula
Alda's first book was better than his second, but since he writes the way he speaks (and I like the way he speaks) I still rated this fairly high. It almost seems like this book was an excuse to print graduation speeches Alda gave over the course of his life, since all but two or three of the anecdotal stories contain, in full, graduation speeches he gave over the last thirty or so years. But there is one chapter where he recorded three eulogies, and two others where he simply talks about his fa...more
Paula Dembeck
After suffering from an intestinal obstruction while on a mountain top in Chilie, Alda lost a couple of feet of intestine and almost died. That adventure complete with its compelling and very critical life moment led him to think more about life and also made him very determined to make the best of the time he has left on this earth. He ponders not only his own life but life in general and poses the question: What exactly is a life well lived?

Searching for meaning, he goes back to things he has...more
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43587
Full name: Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo
Son of actor Robert Alda
Husband of children's book author Arlene Alda

Best known from role of Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce from M*A*S*H* (TV series)
More about Alan Alda...
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie Sweet Liberty (A Martin Bregman Production) This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

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“So that's it. I've told you everything I know. Think clearly and think for yourself. Learn to use language to express those thoughts. Love somebody with all your heart. And with everyone, whether you love them or not, find out if you can be helpful. But really, it's even simpler than that. After all this time, and all these talks in public and in private, I think I get it now. If I were taking my friend Arnold's suggestion and spoke from my deathbed, I think I know what I'd say. I see now that I had my meaning all along, I just had to notice it. The meaning of life... is life. Not noticing life is what's meaningless, even down to the last second.” 27 likes
“Here's my Golden Rule for a tarnished age: Be fair with others, but keep after them until they're fair with you.” 26 likes
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