Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: How to Talk with Practically Anybody about Practically Anything

41xuA7EsoQL._AA160_[1]There’s so much I love about this book that I don’t even know where to start.  How about with the cover.  Beneath the insanely long title, of which only the first word is capitalized, the author is credited as “Barbara Walters of the ‘Today’ Show.”  Not only did I not know Barbara Walters had once been on the Today Show, I never thought of the Today Show as a serious interview program.  It’s morning fluff for housewives while they wait for the Price is Right to start.  My, how times of changed.

Oh, and of course seeing Barbara Walters 20 years younger than I remember her from 20/20 was also pretty neat.  Her cheekbones haven’t changed.

How to talk with practically anybody about practically anything is partly an etiquette book in disguise.  Little tidbits such as how to address place cards or when to offer speakers alcohol are scattered throughout the book.  Though the book doesn’t state an intended audience anywhere, one gets the distinct idea it was written for women.  However, the advice in the book, the tips and the general methods are applicable to anyone.

Breaking talks down into categories of who else is in the conversation, Walters addresses common missteps, ice breakers and preparation steps.  The 1970s publication date comes out all over.  Sometimes subtly in something like the mention of female bosses understanding a woman’s need to take time away from the office to visit a hairdresser, sometimes it’s far more over, such as in the section under the subheading “Special Circumstances” that addresses specifically talking with “a Negro celebrity.” 

This dated-ness doesn’t hurt the usefulness of the book at all.  In fact, it makes it an even more enjoyable read because it also turns it into a bit of a cultural study.  The one exception may be for younger readers who aren’t up on older famous people.  References to the likes of Aristotle Onassis and Truman Capote might go over their heads.

If you’re heading to a dinner party anytime soon, or perhaps something more common these days, like a networking event, I’d recommend reading through Barbara Walter’s short guide.  At less than 200 pages, with well-placed headings throughout, it’s easy to find the information you’d need.  Apparently, there’s also a 1983 version.  I think that’d also be interesting to see.


Jeannie said...

id you 'borrow' this from the hallway bookshelf at home? I remember getting that book from a book lcub years ago - and reading it. Not sure it really helped me. ;)

Jeannie said...

Argh - what happened to my first letter? That should have been "Did ..." and "book club...". Bad editing job on my part.

goldenrail said...

maybe... ;)