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The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure Paperback – December 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"The Art of Conversation will make your next foray into a bar or business reception much more entertaining [...] it will help both wallflowers and those lost in cyberspace achieve conversational connections."
-Los Angeles Times
"Witty, eloquent and insightful, Blyth's books is a delightful encouragement to rediscover conversation as the best communication technology."
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Two other observations: The author, Catherine Blyth, is as beautiful as a fashion model, judging by the photograph on the dust jacket, and perhaps for her the art of conversation is not as fraught as it is for the rest of us. Also, she is English and occasionally uses phrases that must be clear on her side of the Atlantic but that puzzle me.
This is an advice book. Do not expect any in-depth reflections on the philosophy, psychology, anthropology, or sociology of conversation. The best that can be said of it is that there is a lot crammed into its 288 sparse pages and many readers may find some small part helpful. We have all fumbled conversations, and as I read Blyth's book I had some shocks of recognition of mistakes I have made far too often.
Her attempt to fit in so much is also the book's chief weakness. I counted 95 "rules" strewn throughout, and that only scratches the surface of her advice precepts. There are also "principles," "maxims," "guidelines," "commandments," and other kinds of lists, adding dozens (if not hundreds) of further directives. Little space is left for meaningful discussion of any of these (although illustrative anecdotes and quotations appear with many of her rules). The Art of Conversation is broad and shallow.
There is no way that I, for one, could possibly remember more than a few of Blyth's guidelines when I am caught in, say, a tedious cocktail party conversation. It might be best just to focus on some common sense, such as "don't embarrass anyone" or "listen more than you talk." The author does not overlook such fundamentals as these, but they are buried into all of her other material. After reading the book I was unsure of what she might consider to be the three or four most helpful things she had to say.
I find her sections on listening and knowing when to speak as well as the proper use of silence particularly important. Too often is this overlooked in favor of always finding something interesting to force down someone else's throat. These sections alone make it worthwhile to check this book out.
Also, her free-flowing openness leaves room for you to experiment while less confident speakers will get helpful straightforward tips. She not only has helpful step by step sections juxtaposed with (supposedly) real-life experiences, she has a sense of humor that most anyone can appreciate from time to time.
Finally, it is always a positive when the author is accessible and helpful, personally to the average reader. At the end of her book she leaves her web address to her blog and really does value your input individually. The art of Conversation is a brief but worthwhile glimpse into the mind of an expert conversationalist that promises to teach you a thing or two that you do not already know or think you know.
I found the book difficult to read. The author rarely stayed focused or on topic, as she went off on many tangents. Some of the examples given seemed to contradict the point she was trying to make instead of supporting it.
The need for conversation is well established throughout the book and especially in the first chapter. Humans love to talk. We crave interaction and news and discussions. The age we find ourselves in, however, has stymied our ability to have a face to face conversation. Much of Blyth's book covers this lack of desire to actually talk to others. She is adept at making her reader aware that we are silent when in a crowd but talkative on our cell phones and online. Her ability to place us in a situation that screams for consideration and decorum is fun to ponder.
After establishing this conversational need, Ms. Blyth gives her reader some how-to pointers. She encourages one to say "hello" and put oneself out there. Introduction and conversation starters are also plentilly provided. Her chapters are easily broken down into steps of what to do and, graciously, what not to do.
Although conversation can be a light topic, the book has the potential to drag. Blyth's prose and her quotes from a variety of societal figures keep the pages turning. Two topics which are key needs of instruction are proper navigation techniques for conversation and the art of flattery. Her navigation recommendations provide wit and smiles. I personally love the humor of social engineering topics.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a waste of your reading time, . . ., if you really are challenged in having meaningful conversations with other people. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Leighton L. Smith
Didnt' like it,...the book had so many unfamiliar words that will confuse you, like it juggles an idea it's trying to teach you that it gets confusing, this book is supposed to... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jason autentico
A good read, although I would give her more recent book, The Art of Marriage, a five-star rating and highly recommend that book as a unique wedding gift.Published 14 months ago by Kimberly P Reaves
I thought this book would be more helpful than it was. It was poorly written although it did have some ideas that were usable.Published 16 months ago by Charles
It has some good information but it's written funny. Maybe because the writer is from England but I found it hard to understand everything she was saying be cause of the way her... Read morePublished 18 months ago by K. Killen
“Sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind,” is how John Dryden described it in 1700.
And I had a very entertaining time at Blyth's banquet of pleasures. Read more
If you're looking (as I was) for a book to help you become better at conversation, keep looking. This book does not do that. Read morePublished on September 4, 2013 by Bobby B
This is a disjointed book on manners, and it is so poorly written that one wonders how the author could lay claim to being a great conversationalist. Read morePublished on August 30, 2013 by McFly