You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives
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You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives

3.17 of 5 stars 3.17  ·  rating details  ·  340 ratings  ·  90 reviews
"I love her to death. I can't imagine life without her," a woman says about her sister. Another remarks, "I don't want anyone to kill my sister because I want to have that privilege myself." With these two comments, begins this eye-opening and entertaining new book.

New York Timesbestselling author Deborah Tannen is renowned for illuminating the way we communicate–and revol...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Random House
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Tanya
As the oldest of four sisters (and a brother) I was interested to hear what Tannen had to say. I recognized myself in so many of her stories, and found myself wanting to talk to my mom and sisters as I went through the book. "Did you feel like that?" "Can you see now why I would act that way?" and so forth. There was one paragraph that for me encapsulated the conflicts I've had with my sisters, past and present:

"Sisters are inescapably in competition even as they are companions traveling down th...more
Leslie
The title doesn't quite fit - thankfully, it's all about sisters' relationships, the heirarchy, the connections, the competition, how the parents play into it, how the relationships often stay the same, etc. The stories are so relatable - I kept thinking of my family and my friends' too. The author interviewed and analyzed many sister relationships and situations, including her own. Some of the anecdotes are wacky, but most of the situations described seem mundane (which sometimes felt a little...more
Carin
The holidays are always rough. As Sally says in "When Harry Met Sally": “A lot of suicides.” And while family is supposed to make things better, they can often make things worse. I have two younger sisters, and we’ve had difficult relationships at times. (We get along currently and I’d like things to stay that way.) So in preparation for Christmas, I downloaded Deborah Tannen’s You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! (do I even need to give you the subtitle? That title is so perfect, you’ve got to alrea...more
Eliza
Neal A. Maxwell quoted another author once that "We learn to cope with the people of this world because we learn to cope with the members of our family." I thought of that as I read this book.

I recommend this book to any woman who has sisters. I enjoyed D. Tannen's most recent book as well--"You're Wearing THAT?" (about mother-daughter relationships)--and this one is in the same vein. She listens in on various sister-sister conversations, whether reported secondhand or experienced firsthand, and...more
Meghann
May 18, 2012 Meghann rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one.
Recommended to Meghann by: Erin Currin
This may be the most useless book I have ever read. I gave it a star b/c it is, in fact, a book. :) Apparently this author has written several books with catchy titles (I know this b/c she plugs them all extensively in this one). Going off the titles, I would have been interested in reading them but based on this book, I fear she has only clever titles with no substance.
Ketti
If you have sisters...and I have 3....you should read this book. I listened to it on cd, it was so interesting. Deborah Tannen is one smart lady. This is a self-help book but she's really not telling you what to do or what to change, she simply tells what is! btw - I am not mom's favorite :)
Kelly
I loved it! It was super interesting to think about my own younger sister, and how our interactions have changed and moved around throughout life. It also opened my eyes to other relationships I have - with aunts and my mom and dad especially.
Dawn H
Jul 06, 2012 Dawn H added it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
So far, not the best work on the subject of sister communication, but I will finish it to see if additional insights unfold. (Update: couldn't finish it.)

Some interesting case studies could pique the interest of women with sisters and testimonials abound, but there's just not enough objectivity as I would expect from this scholar.

However, Tannen's effort still deserves respect as she takes on this daunting task. It's a bit more than anyone could expect in a single volume on the subject of "sist...more
Kristin Harkins
I've been exposed to Deborah Tannen's linguistical prowess in various forms since graduate school. What is most awe inspiring to me is Tannen's down to earth, conversational writing style. No matter the complexity of the subject, Tannen manages to make readers feel as if they are chatting with an old friend. Despite my previous exposure to Tannen's research, I had never read one of her book length studies. I spotted You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives...more
Deb
When sisters' family relationships are able to muddle along and maintain emotional closeness through the many stages of life, Deborah Tannen's book may seem almost superfluous. Insight isn't always sought when everyone appears to be comfortable, content and free of undercurrents of conflict. However, for those sisters' connections hobbled by misunderstanding, misplaced rivalry, assumptions of motives of behaviour based on role assignment by parents, trickle down expectations and beliefs held by...more
Rebecca
I liked this one better than the other book on sister relationships that I recently read. The writing was less dense and less jargon-heavy, and the examples were good. I'm not sure the "sisters in conversation" subtitle is quite accurate, though, since I didn't feel like it was really an analysis of the *language* sisters use with each other. It was more psychology than linguistics, I felt, focused on women's attitudes and biases but not really getting at those things via their words and languag...more
Patty
Feb 12, 2010 Patty rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Patty by: galanski book discussion
Shelves: non-fiction, readin10
I didn't really read this book. I skimmed through and picked out the chapters or parts that I thought were interesting. I don't have a sister but wanted to participate in an extended-family book discussion. I am a sister though and know many sisters. I think there is much in this book that could be helpful.

Deborah Tannen is a Professor of Linguistics and she helped me understand, once again, that it's not so much what you say but how you say it. I thought the stories that Tannen related to make...more
Kaitlyn
My mother gave me this book to read years ago. Three moves later, I decided I needed to read it. I'm glad I read it. It was an interesting read about how sisters specifically communicate with each other. I have two younger sisters so I could identify with the overarching themes of the book. I don't think that the book heightened my awareness on any matters. There was no 'aha' moment for me through out the book. If you have sisters you will be able to relate to this book and it may help provide s...more
Nancy
I had hoped for more from Deborah Tannen's latest foray into the hidden messages we convey in conversation. While I enjoy Tannen's ideas and writing style, I found this book disorganized; I had to keept rechecking the table of contents to see which section I was reading. Was it about older sisters? Wait, then why does she keep talking about younger sisters? With each new section, I hoped for a new, organized set of insights; instead it seemed like she kept saying the same things over and over. I...more
Danielle
This book was pretty interesting for anyone who grew up with a sister I think. I'm not sure how much you would get out of it if you didn't. The author is a linguist who used her training in human interaction to research the relationships between sisters. She used her own experiences with her own two sisters plus the relationships between sisters from around the world to illustrate her points. There of course many things I could relate to in my relationship with my own sister, but also many other...more
Yvonne
I thought the book was too "text-bookish." It contained a lot of anecdotes and the stories were entertaining but it was often the same story lines told in different voices. The over-all feel of the book is comforting because it lets the reader know that your sister can be your best friend, or your worst enemy.
Paula
Having recently taken a 4-day vacation with my two sisters, the timing for reading this book was perfect. I've read other of Tannen's books and always find them interesting, but also find that my family doesn't really fit the typical conversational mode that she describes. I don't remember my eldest sister "mothering" me - my next oldest sister tended to do that more, but even she didn't do it that much once I got to be about 8 or so. Tannen's take on the "meta-message" that sisters (and indeed,...more
Robyn
Dec 27, 2013 Robyn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Dear Dad,
It's your 100th birthday today. You may not be here to celebrate it, but you are remembered for all the things you taught us and the person that you were. You taught me the meaning of integrity, as you lived it. you taught me that love is a doing word , not just by saying I love you but by the thoughtful things you do for others. You taught me to care about others across the world who have so little, because you were prepared to leave your home and family to help in a practical way.
You...more
Gail
I actually finished this book just before Thanksgiving. If you are going to read a book about sisters, reading it while a bunch of sisters are planning a long-distance Thanksgiving dinner is definitely the way to go. Tannen's work, of course, is pop psychology, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have some recognition points.

I am in the middle of 5 sisters...two older and two younger. One brother (older) is also in the mix. I have always thought of myself as a middle child, which I am, with all of...more
Nicole
Oct 19, 2009 Nicole rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nicole by: NPR
I think I was expecting a few less stories and a lot more insight from this book. Maybe it's just that I didn't want to pay for a therapist, but I could've used a little more psycho-babble to help me understand my own relationship with my sister, and this one just didn't offer much except gentle stories from the author's own (good) relationships with her own sisters. So it's definitely not all bad, but not the manual I was looking for to traverse the rocky relationship I have with my own sister....more
Alice
I reread this book, since it was 2 months that I first read some chapters. I wanted to refresh my memory since we are discussing this book. She had some good stories about sisters, but I found that it didn`t pertain to our family that much. My sisters and I were spaced apart by many years, so that could say that we were raised like only childs.
Chapter 2, We`re close but we`re different was my favorite chapter. The section titled Lost Sisters, lost selves brought back the most memories, since we...more
Jackie
Apr 17, 2014 Jackie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ro Silvestri
I found this book to be very insightful and found myself laughing out loud when I saw myself in some of the examples. If you have a sister or especially if you come from a family or three sisters this book is worth the read.
Cheryl
This book deepened my well of compassion for my sisters, my brother, my parents and myself. I changed my thinking, healed wounds, grew in gratitude and understanding, and let a lot go that wasn't serving me or my family relationships. I read it with a group of gal pals. The book inspired rich, open, brave and honest conversations.
Jeannine
This was an extremely enjoyable read and it presents a very interesting and different perspective on relationships between sisters by looking at language and culture. I believe that anyone who has a sister can identify with any one of the situations that the author presents through her research. Coming from someone who is not only one of 6 sisters, but who is the fifth of 6 sisters (my twin sister is the youngest), I could identify a great deal with a lot of Deborah Tannen's research findings. I...more
Debbie
This book took me a while, because I was only reading a little before bed, but I finally sat down and finished it, because I found it so interesting. The author, a linguist who has written several other books about relationships and language, looks at sisters, and how they talk to and about each others. She gives insights into the varied aspects and types of relationships between sisters, based on interviews with women, while also not making them seem prescriptive. I wanted to have my sister rea...more
Laura
This book took me forever to get through. While she offers some interesting analysis on sister (and family) relationships, the book reads like a Communications textbook. Her writing style is very dry, and I wished her anecdotes had been more conversational, and that she had given us more background on the speakers.

On the plus side, I liked that she was subjective - she just presented her analysis, but didn't really project her own opinions on the work.

I'm looking forward to getting back to my fi...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
This book is about sisters and being one of three, I thought it might be a good book to read. The book started out kind of slow and I almost put it down after about 35-40 pages. Luckily for the book and myself, I believe in the Rule of 50, meaning that I give a book at least 50 pages before putting it down.

The book had a lot of truth to it and I could see it being helpful for someone who has trouble dealing with their sisters. I'm very lucky in that I have a good relationship with both of my sis...more
Elisabethmarie
not a book for someone who has a good relationship with her sister(s). she would explain that sisters have these intense, negative realtionships and then add as a sidelight that it's not the csae for everyone but not go into happy relationships. it stirred up past hurts between my sister and i that had already been dealt with. i got 25 pages in and then stopped because i wanted to still love my sister. sister relationships are complex, but not always negative. i would have appreciated it if she...more
Shana
With hopes of understanding sister bonds and relationships, I picked up Deborah Tannen’s You were Always Mom’s Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives. After completing it, I was no more enlightened than before. I’m not sure that anyone would be. The entire book felt a little obvious, like the points she made about communication between sisters and rivalries and all that seemed like basic stuff. I’m no expert on sisters whatsoever (I only have a younger brother), so perhaps peo...more
Theresa
This book contained a lot of stories gathered through conversations with sisters. Many times I saw myself or one of my sisters in the stories, and it did help me better understand some aspects of my "place" with my sisters. All in all it was a good book. It was hard, at times, however, to stay focused. She rambles a lot. But, if you can keep focused throughout the book, I think you can learn alot about how you interact with yoru sisters, and possibly find some explanations as to why your sisters...more
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Deborah Tannen is best known as the author of You Just Don't Understand, which was on The New York Times Best Seller list for nearly four years years, including eight months as No. 1, and has been translated into 29 languages. It was also on best seller lists in Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, and Hong Kong. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the...more
More about Deborah Tannen...
You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation That's Not What I Meant! Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work I Only Say This Because I Love You: How the Way We Talk Can Make or Break Family Relationships Throughout Our Lives

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