- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400066174
- ISBN-13: 978-1400066179
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself Hardcover – September 4, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
After actor Alda (Never Have Your Dog Stuffed) recovered from a nearly fatal intestinal obstruction, he decided to live as if he'd been given a second life. To make his new life as meaningful as possible, he wanted to remember those rare moments when a special stillness had come over him, the kind that hits you when you hear something that goes to the core of who you think you are. These were moments when he'd had some understanding about the meaning of his life, his reason for living—the central questions that Alda grapples with, as he looks back over his life. While poking good-natured fun at some of his earlier rhetoric (the ravings of a naïve Hollywood liberal) he shares highlights of the various commencement speeches and keynote addresses he's given to future doctors and physicists, or even to the odd group of Jefferson scholars. He phrases it differently for each audience, but the message is consistent: It's not what you do in life, but how you do it. Notice everything. Always be open to new ideas, new experiences. Alda is chatty, easygoing and humble, rather like a Mr. Rogers for grownups. His words of inspiration would be a perfect gift for a college grad or for anyone facing major life changes. (Sept.)
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About the Author
Alan Alda is the author of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed. He is the winner of numerous awards, including six Emmys and six Golden Globes, and has been nominated for an Academy Award. He played Hawkeye Pierce for eleven years on the television series M*A*S*H, has acted in, written, and directed many feature films, and has appeared often on Broadway. His avid interest in science has led to his hosting PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers for eleven years. He is married to the children’s book author and photographer Arlene Alda. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
Top Customer Reviews
The title of Alda's book alludes to the approach he adopted in trying to come up with an answer to that question. Alda dug up speeches he had delivered on various occasions over the years, talks which he'd attempted to infuse with some wisdom pertinent to the occasion. Many of these speeches were delivered at commencement ceremonies, but Alda also talked to historians at Monticello and to psychiatrists at Cornell. He spoke at a ceremony honoring Simon Wiesenthal. He delivered eulogies for Ozzie Davis and Peter Jennings and Anne Bancroft. He spoke over the grave of his grandchildren's dead rabbit.
Alda structures the book around excerpted passages from these speeches, but Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself is by no means wholly or even primarily a collection of excerpts. Rather, Alda uses the excerpts as writing prompts, wrapping stories from his life around them. In one chapter, for example, Alda excerpts passages from a talk he delivered at Emerson College in 1977 on the subject of living up to one's values.Read more ›
In an excerpt from Alan Alda's commencement address at Eve's graduation, he talked about the need for people to question their "assumptions" because our assumptions are our windows through which we view the world...he also talked about the happiness found in existentialism because life is what you make of it. For those of you who have read the books of Barry Neil Kaufman, you will likely find a delightful synergy of outlook.
Most of one chapter is about Alda's fascination with Richard Feynman....the chapter is so intriguing that the next book I plan to read is about Richard Feynman. In the this book, you learn about Alan, but also about things that you didn't expect, like when Alan went in search of a greater understanding of Thomas Jefferson by talking to scientists in China. He reaches into the dark and pulls out something magnificent that nobody else would have found.
"Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself" starts you thinking about what you value and what excites you. As much as I loved "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed", I LOVE this new book even more! This book is clearly from Alan Alda's heart and it goes straight to the reader's heart...Read more ›
Alan Alda looks at his own writings from the past -- his speeches -- in which he has publicly declared his philosophies of life. He quotes from those speeches he has selected as representative of his quest for meaning in life. And he intersperses them with relevant vignettes from his experience. In that way, he examines his own values and the sources of those values.
He reveals himself as a lifelong learner, a man of insatiable curiosity engaged in an incessant search for knowledge and understanding -- especially self-knowledge -- and insight. He shows his penchant for rigorous research in his gathering facts and statistical support for his ideas and conclusions. It is easy to see how he might have wished to be a scientist at times, since he proceeds so much like one in preparing speeches. (And I'm sure his 11 years of interviewing scientists for Scientific American Frontiers contributed to his methodological and empirical approach.) He does what he has suggested scientists do. He takes complex information, ideas and analyses and converts them into stories, analogies and mental images that make them understandable and relevant to the average guy or gal.
So, he models for you how to approach the search for meaning and values in life and how to think about what you find in that search.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alan writes with a flair and with warmth like his Hawkeye character...brilliantPublished 1 month ago by Greg Simpson
I found the book entertaining. I've never seen Mr Alda as an actor except on the hit series MASH. He was excellent. Read morePublished 2 months ago by G. ONeill
As good as "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed...etc.." - sorry, the full exact title escapes me right this moment. If you liked one you'll enjoy both. Read morePublished 3 months ago by amazonalto
Incredible insight, humility, humor, and good advice. Highly recommend!!Published 3 months ago by Lucy Denzin
Disappointed that the dust cover was missing. Other than that it was in nice quality.Published 9 months ago by Alisha
This is one that I will listen to multiple times, I've already loaned it out to my daughter.Published 13 months ago by Dave Rosene