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The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude
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The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  69 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Known as an ‘anthropologist of everyday life,’ Margaret Visser has, in five award-winning books, uncovered and illuminated the intriguing and unexpected meanings of everyday objects and habits. Now she turns her keen eye to another custom so frequently encountered that it often escapes notice: saying ‘Thank you.’ What do we really mean by these two simple words?

This fascin
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 19th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published August 22nd 2008)
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Jan 22, 2013 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: oxford
Brilliantly insightful, researched, and scholarly--and yet practical, fun, and accessible. This is one of the three or four best books I have read in 2012. More thoughts forthcoming when I have access to a real keyboard.
VillaPark Public Library
Nov 02, 2011 VillaPark Public Library rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-bites
The concept was good but it got very overwhelming fast. It's always interesting to read how our North American culture measures up against other cultures and how one simple word can mean so much (or so little).
Apr 18, 2014 Enikő rated it liked it
I borrowed this book from the library because one of my professors had us read an article by Margaret Visser about suntanning, and said that Visser was la crème de la crème as far as good writing was concerned. I must say that I found the article to be richer linguistically than the book, but it was still a good read, in the end.

At first, I found the writing to be rather dry, and the book repetitive. Perhaps it was because I was reading late at night, my brain rather tired from the stress of th
Feb 10, 2010 David rated it it was ok
wide-ranging historical/sociological/literary/cultural treatise on gratitude and the rituals surrounding expression of thanks.

Some interesting angles on cultural differences in whether to wrap gifts, some cute linguistic points (e.g., in the situation in which an American would say approximately "no thanks, I'm fine", Greeks say something that translates as "It's going beautifully" -- I think I need to start using that one), some incisive distinctions (e.g., a tip is not a gift because there is
Jan 07, 2012 Maggie rated it it was ok
Dense and scholarly. I confess to having skimmed great swaths in the middle.

I was, though, amused by a passage on breastfeeding, which implied that breastfed children learn gratitude at the breast. "Klein, in short, makes satisfaction at the breast as an infant determine the adult's ability to enjoy, and this capacity provides the likelihood of his being able to be grateful." My amusement was mostly borne of my envisioning of the flame wars that this would start in the formuala-okay vs. breast-i
Aug 18, 2011 caty rated it liked it
This was really repetitive. From the blurb I was expecting a lot more. But essentially, this book is limited to gift-giving. Towards the end it becomes a little… Christian. I wanted it to stay more detached so I could form my own opinion. I wanted more anthropological evidence. The best thing is that 150 pages of this book were footnotes, so it’s not really as daunting as you first think. (That’s not much of a recommendation, is it?)
Alethea Bothwell
Feb 28, 2016 Alethea Bothwell rated it liked it
Margaret Visser takes as her subjects common, everyday things - things we don't bother to think about - and thinks about them. This time, the subject is gratitude.

When I first started, I thought, "This is her best yet!" and it is pretty good. But for me, it went on a little too long, and got a little too repetitive.

Still, it was NOT a waste of time!
Sep 30, 2013 Natasha rated it liked it
Hmmm. I'd read "Much Depends Upon Dinner" and looked forward to this one but either my taste has changed or this isn't as entertaining as the other. I'm liking it but wouldn't highly recommend it. Reads more like a university text than a pleasurable read.
Skai Leja
Dec 26, 2009 Skai Leja rated it it was ok
Interesting but too much for me- got about one quarter of the way into the book and lost interest, despite a promising start. This would require either a passion for the topic or a great deal of time to read and digest
Mar 21, 2012 Maddy rated it really liked it
This took me a long time to get through (about 6 months) because it's so dense, so I probably forgot the beginning by the end, but it's a great, informative read. Sometimes Visser seems like she could benefit from some editing, but you'll always learn approximately three million interesting facts.
Jun 28, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ms Visser always finds much to say about simple things. She encourages you to look at the gift of thanks in a new way
Just picked it up at the library. Could be interesting...

Update:: didn't grab me once I started, then I had to return it.
Jessie B.
An interesting look at giving and receiving , from a primitive urge, the variations of meaning and the philosophical and even spiritual dimensions
Mary Margaret
Mary Margaret rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2014
Jennifer Lahotski
Jennifer Lahotski rated it liked it
Jan 23, 2012
Dec 03, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: not-finished
Too much info. I couldn't finish it. Almost too thorough. Seems wordy and redundant.
Aaron Cummings
Aaron Cummings rated it it was amazing
Mar 06, 2012
Louanne Enns
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May 04, 2013
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Apr 06, 2012
Linda rated it it was ok
Jun 08, 2014
Gourav Singh
Gourav Singh rated it it was amazing
Jun 16, 2016
Helene rated it it was ok
Jan 11, 2012
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Aug 23, 2010
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Sep 23, 2014
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May 27, 2010
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Margaret Visser writes on the history, anthropology, and mythology of
everyday life. Her most recent book is The Gift of Thanks, published by HarperCollins. Her previous books, Much Depends on Dinner, The Rituals of Dinner, The Way We Are, and The Geometry of Love, have all been best sellers and have won major international awards, including the Glenfiddich Award for Foodbook of the Year in Britain
More about Margaret Visser...

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