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Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Do you want better conversations with your lover, your colleagues at work, your family, friends or strangers, or yourself? Conversation explains what kind of talk charmed and excited people in the past, and why we talk differently today. It explores the art and the history of conversation and how it can be the key to a happier, more interesting future. It shows how women h ...more
Hardcover, 103 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by HiddenSpring (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  267 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: dissatisfied conversationalists
Recommended to Wayne by: monologists and poor listeners and correspondents
I stopped reading this some time ago because it depressed me.

NOW, I have just entered into the final chapter.
So, WHAT has changed ????
Obviously the book hasn't, so obviously (yet AGAIN) it MUST BE ME!!!!

18th November ,2012

How could I have left readers hanging like THAT!!??
Why did it depress me, for a start??!!

Because I was aware of how rarely one comes across Good Listeners.

Just the other day I went to visit my barber.
I love barbers because they have you trapped in a c
Jun 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, fp
This is a quirky little book, half text and half art painted by the author himself, all as a way to try and stimulate conversation between us (the generic us, the great seething mass of general humanity). Conversation, Zeldin says, is not just talk - conversation is a skilled exchange of ideas, betraying our curiousity about others, and a particular open-mindedness, a willingness to be changed by the act of sitting and listening as much as putting things into words. Defensiveness, wanting to win ...more
Kent Winward
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I picked up this little book because the author was mentioned by Alain de Botton in his NYT Book Review Interview. I was intrigued by the idea of generating new and more vibrant conversations, but in the end the book fell flat. Certainly didn't rise to its subtitle of providing a prescription for changing lives. I had the sense the author was trying much too hard and oddly, (because the author is a historian) lacked a broad historical perspective. Good conversation has always been rare and it ha ...more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Pretty words, some beautiful sentences, but nothing applicable. No meat, all sugar.
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the few books I rate as five stars, and one that I want to give to so many friends. Brilliant and accurate and perfect.
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was ok
This is not a self-help book. It is not teaching you how to converse. He wants the focus to be in having sincere conversations. A tool used to meet with others from different backgrounds and allow yourself to see from other peoples perspectives and learn from it. Not a new idea.

Made me want to have dinner with my neighbors.

He mentioned some interesting parts about conversations at work. How it can become monotonous. He asks, "What job offers the most enchanting and surprising conversations? Alm
Hendrik Borginon
Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn't quite know what to make of it. It certainly contains some nice anecdotes and reflections and the book serves as a decent appetiser to thinking about conversation's significance in areas from romance to the satisfaction of one's daily life. It fails to deliver beyond posing these questions however and falls flat. I was perhaps hoping for it to be more, but that might not be a fair expectation of a book that is ultimately just a transcription of a BBC radio show. I enjoyed it though and t ...more
Jul 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This sliver of a book left almost no impression on me. Interspersed with paintings of abstract ideas the text is maybe 40 tiny pages in large font. I like the idea of the tiny book because an author can really cut the fat out and hone the polemic. Conversation, is none of that. Like a weak-wristed handshake it, kinda, if you please, like, suggests to you that, you know, conversation is sort-of a dying art-form, and maybe, if it doesn't trouble you too much, we should, you know, maybe think about ...more
Laura Hartmark
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elise Steele
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was hoping for a how-to book, which it wasn't, but I think it's helpful all the same. I appreciated his comments about being a specialist in your profession and a generalist in life. I appreciated his recognition of what we can learn from children and from people of many different backgrounds and professions. As he says, travel abroad is an essential part of education, which is never complete.
The author shaped my opinions and gave me a lot to consider. I think that's a great conversation.
Peter P.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Snappy little book about the evolution of conversation. Contains a few gems such as, "Wit has been humanity's liberator against the boredom that most conversation has induced, humanity's protector against speakers who get drunk on their own verbosity." Very enjoyable. ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Little touching book about great meaning of deep conversation in present day. Author speaks about different kinds of conversation - at home, at work, with loved ones and with ourselfes convincing that true and meaningful conversation can really start changes in our private and common lifes.
Noelia C. Sanz
No me ha gustado nada, salvo el primer capítulo. Viene poco contenido, ya que la mitad son cuadros abstractos del propio autor. No me ha resultado útil en absoluto, aunque pasé un buen rato sacando algunos temas de conversación de los que vienen al final. No lo recomiendo.
John Smith
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very good
Marcos Junior
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Uma meditação sobre uma nova forma de conversação, uma que transforma vidas.
Tiina Tan
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Tore lugemine, toredad mõtted. Illustratsioonid meeldisid.
Inga Pizāne
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brīnišķīga lasāmviela par sarunāšanos kā ļoti nozīmīgu dzīves un attiecību virzītāju. Darbā, pāra attiecībās, ģimenē. Vairāk atziņu manā blogā: ...more
Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I saw this on a colleague's shelf and borrowed it, and it sat on the shelf until I came across it in an odd moment, sat down and skimmed as much of it as I need to read. It was originally talks on BBC4, by “a fellow and former dean” at Oxford – doesn’t say what department or subject, they probably don’t have those at Oxford – but philosophy was a big part of his preparation, however it happened. Gorgeous paintings by the author all the way through this tiny little almost exactly 100 book, and at ...more
Apr 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A British philosopher looks at the demise of conversation and the implications for society at large.

The most ominous result is that no one talks to strangers and we confine our conversations almost exclusively to those who are like-minded. This creates an insular and warped version of the world. Not too long ago, it was inconceivable to spend any period of time with a stranger and not talk to them. Now, it is commonplace for strangers to spend hours at a time together and never exchange a singl
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Tiny little book, but thought provoking. Check out his project/organization "the muse" (google it) which grew out of this and "intimate history", is on a mission to inspire more meaningful conversations between people of all walks of life. ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Thought-provoking book on the role conversation plays in our happiness and sense of connectedness to others, and about how talking to each other broadens our understanding and helps us grow. Also contains beautiful art and questions designed to deepen our conversations.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Cute book of ideas and pretty illustrations. I think the title is misleading, maybe it's more about how the right kind of conversation can enhance our lives. It's a lovely additional read to whichever novel and non-fiction books you have going on. ...more
Aug 31, 2012 rated it liked it
I really like the idea of this book, and it certainly offers some very encouraging ideas about the benefits afforded by a greater commitment to the pursuit of good conversation...I wish there was a bit more of it though!
David Sasaki
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
"So often I had an urge to converse with others like I did with my journal." ...more
Ron Powell
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
T. Zeldin points out how talking is not conversation. Where conversation is what allows us to change one's own or others feelings and or ideas. ...more
Oct 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Best little book! I inspires you to want to have conversation with a new intent and appreciation.

Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This interesting book got me rethinking about the purposes of conversations and how I conversed with others. It will be of most value to those who value some deeper thinking.
Jan 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: social-studies
he says in chapter 1 that if you have a Conflict Theorist's view of the world then this book is pointless to you... he was right. ...more
rated it it was amazing
May 04, 2010
Lisa Nosal
rated it liked it
Jul 05, 2014
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Theodore Zeldin CBE, President of the Oxford Muse Foundation, is a Palestinean philosopher, sociologist, historian, writer and public speaker. Zeldin was first known as a historian of France but is today probably most famous internationally as the author of An Intimate History of Humanity (1994), a book which probes the personal preoccupations of people in many different civilisations, both in the ...more

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