Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What to Talk About: On a Plane, at a Cocktail Party, in a Tiny Elevator with Your Boss's Boss” as Want to Read:
What to Talk About: On a Plane, at a Cocktail Party, in a Tiny Elevator with Your Boss's Boss
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What to Talk About: On a Plane, at a Cocktail Party, in a Tiny Elevator with Your Boss's Boss

2.79  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Homo sapiens have been speaking for hundreds of years—and yet basic communication still stymies us. We freeze up in elevators, on dates, at parties, under Dumpsters. We stagger through our exchanges merely hoping not to crash, never considering that we might soar. We go home sweaty and eat a birthday cake in the shower.

But no more. With What to Talk About you'll learn to s
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Chronicle Books (first published March 25th 2014)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What to Talk About, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about What to Talk About

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
2.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  292 ratings  ·  53 reviews

Sort order
Tammie Maloney
Cute book but not overly serious about the topic. Best use: to finish that 50 book reading challenge you set for yourself on New Years.
Jun 19, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014, ebook, owned
This book was not at all what I was expecting. I spent most of it with a confused look on my face, inwardly wondering, "Is this for real? Am I being trolled?" This was sold to me (via a segment on WBUR) as a book on improving your social skills, but it's so full of zany, absurd humor that there's nary a useful tip to be found in the whole thing.

I think if it had been presented to me as humorous, I could have dealt with it, and might have even appreciated the humor, but I went into it expecting a
Adam Wells
Apr 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
Trite, shallow, and primarily composed of a mix of bad advice and socially-awkward humor. A good example of what NOT to do in most cases.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it
In 2008, during the beginning of a friendship, I found myself combing the lower levels of Strand Bookstore in New York City. My friend and I found a self-help book that was filled with hilariously earnest advice. The only thing I recall is that central to the piece on flirting and crushes was a point to make intimate physical contact with their ear. Just a light touch.

We didn't buy the book. Foolishly.

I've been searching since then to recapture the magic that was that book. Of which I remember
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I am OK at conversations, but this book, part of me wants to take it out and really try it. My people will look at me in horror.
Hlyan Htet Oo
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was happy reading this book and often laughed out loud. I finished it just in a day. This book is entertaining, funny, and it really gives you practical advice on what to talk about.
Landon Stuart
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Thought this would be more helpful than it was. It was funny occasionally and I enjoyed the funky illustrations but other than that it doesn't have much helpful info.
Maeve McMahon
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My mother finds herself funny and so she'll always give me "subtle" hints on what she wants me to work on through the presents she'll give me. For my 12th birthday she gave me a pencil case that literally said "stay focused". This book was another not-so-subtle hint that I can be horrendous when it comes to carrying a conversation. Now, I'll admit I thought this book was going to be a boring how-to with some confidence builders thrown in, but it was so much better. I would read this book wheneve ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how much of this book is a joke a how much is just terrible advice. There might be a few nuggets of really good advice in here but if you're reading a book like this you probably don't want to trust yourself to pick them out. Definitely do not read this if you're actually trying to improve your social skills--your time is better spent on any number of other books--but if you're like me the humor will be right up your alley.
Eva Pimentel
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
When I first saw it I just couldn't believe there's a book for that. It was funny reading it but I always had the WTF look on my face.
Vannara Sadie
Aug 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Coffee table books. Visually appealing, valuable it is not. Please don't waste your dollars! xx
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
an enjoyable read with uncommon reminders about conversation. Good humour in expressing ideas, easy to implement methods.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was not sure of the tips where a koje or not
Kristina Variano
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
It was funny, but I wish it had more advice on how to talk to people.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
It started out funny, but slowly revealed itself to be a waste of time.
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I read another review that said this book is best used as a quick read to finish your reading challenge for the year, and that’s pretty much what I did.

I struggle with small talk, and generally abhor it, but I also recognize its strategic value in relationships and networking, so it is an area where I need improvement.

One thing this book does well is humor. It’s engaging and random, and that helps the book to go fast. Many of the conversational tips rely on surprise, using some out-of-left-fiel
Kaleena Rheeya
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This Goodreads First Reads book was a quick, easy read. I really enjoyed the humor in this book overall. While the advice is sometimes quite silly, it does raise an important point--people need to stop being concerned so much about how they appear when they talk to others and focus more instead on being the wacky selves they are (although it is fun every once in a while to pretend you are someone else for a little while when the right moment strikes.) I am glad I read this book and look forward ...more
Oct 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
… I wasn't expecting this. At all..
I was really hoping for a book more… "academic", with real ideas to help people with sociability issues, but the propositions are so absurd ! They tried to make it smart and witty, and it totally failed. I smiled twice, during the romance part, and that's all..
I won't remember or use any of their sentences.. They are stupid and shallow.
Really disappointed (even though I didn't have much expectations in this book.. but I was hoping for something helpful and funn
Apr 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: goodreads-wins, owned
I didn't know what to think of this book. Just looking at the title, I first thought that this was a true self-help book, but once I started reading it I quickly new that this was more of a comedic-type gift book. There were some real hints for real situations, but most of the book was an outlandish approach to conversation starters. My favorite part of the book was the "conversation piñata" at the end of the book. In compliance with FTC guidelines, I received the book for free through Goodreads ...more
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A humorous book about what to say.

You know the saying "it's funny because it's true". This book has that, and useful advice, but be careful - the authors take the subject matter very lightly and if you are not a careful reader you might mistake their own brand of humour for advice (in that case the joke's on you).

I find humour makes advice more memorable and I enjoyed this book. Regardless of what other reviews say.
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
If it were possible, I would give this book three and a half stars, mainly because it is really silly, occasionally very funny, and sometimes, yes, actually useful. I think if you read it as a humor book and not in any way an actual guide to small talk, it probably warrants the fourth star. I did laugh out loud, and some things (like the list of conversational topics for talking to children eight and under) were genuinely hilarious. It is also a very quick read.
Apr 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had grabbed this to preview as a book for teenager or college student, thinking of something for my own son or a new go to gift item with $ for grad gifts. The examples & suggestions are very sarcastic & witty - many of which in the wrong tone/delivery/environment could be horrible. I appreciated their effort to get people to laugh and get past the basics but definitely not a book I'd recommend.
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2014
Cute, but not too practically. Many of the "advice" is pretty goofy. There is a little food for thought in there so it's not a waste of time, plus it is pretty short. I find myself often thinking, "Definitely written by men (and probably for men)". Would I recommend it? Go for it, it's at least good for a couple laughs.

*I received this free as a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a review."
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Clever ways to open up conversation with anyone. Provides small adjustments such as not just asking "How was your day?" but "What was the most interesting thing that happen at work today?". Not asking "How are you?" but instead "What are you thinking about right now?" The idea is to start a story and get a conversation going instead of just asking for a answer.
Jun 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, naah, dnf
Now that my dad is here, he goes to the library quite often. He picked this book thinking I might find it interesting. Unfortunately, I did not like this book. I am pretty sure people will think I am a nutcase, if I start saying some of the example sentences given in the book. Tips given are impractical.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
I picked it up due to the title and the fact that I struggle with the small talk. My expectations? Funny, fresh, insightfull and easy reading for my commutes. However, it was a waste of time. Haven't been amused almost not at all. Sort of very different taste of humour than mine or so sarcastic that I did not get it.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it
I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. It was a quick read, finished in about an hour. It was quite humorous but not very practical in my opinion. If you your looking for a light read and a good laugh this isn't a bad choice.
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a charming, snarky little book filled with some useful and some not-so-useful tips on how to talk to people. It did kick-start some intriguing conversations, particularly using the reference section containing "conversation piñata" of grab-bag topics for any occasion.
Aug 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Nice. Provides conversation solutions for almost every situation, except for meeting my old maths teacher outside a rap concert. I would probably try sth like this: "What's the history of awkwardness?" and then proceed with "Were cavemen ever awkward?"
Apr 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: working-smart
there are a few useful tips in here, but for the most part, it's filled with ridiculous humor and bad ideas as conversation starters. it sounds like it's written by a scummy guy who drives women away. the illustrations are also terrible.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Activist's Handbook: A Primer
  • Get-It-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More
  • Puzzles to Puzzle You
  • 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child
  • Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words
  • Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide to Successful Meetings, Corporate Events, Fundraising Galas, Conferences, Conventions, Incentives and Other Special Events
  • Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems
  • Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education
  • Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research
  • Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets, Speculation and the State
  • Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write
  • Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World
  • A Treatise on Probability
  • The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications
  • The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts
  • The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lessons from Japan's Great Recession
  • Common Mistakes in English
  • Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order