The Book Jam Blog
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As we face the reality technology often separates us as much as it unites us, we found some books that inspired us to have a few more dinner gatherings and a lot more interesting, meaningful, and ideally fun conversations. We hope they inspire you to put down the phone (after reading our reviews first – and yes, we recognize the irony) and talk to people who are sitting next to you or across from you or who live next door or…
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker (2018). Have you ever wondered what’s in that special sauce, the one that makes one get-together meaningful or even transformative while another can fall flat and lack energy, even if the guests are A-List? If so, this is the book for you. Author Priya Parker is a professional facilitator who writes from a vantage point of over thirty years of experience of bringing people together for wide-ranging events, from meetings, to conferences, to dinner parties, and even funerals. Not only does she understand how to create this special “sauce” but her prose is elegant and lucid, her insights about group dynamics illuminating while also fascinating. Each chapter is important, and not to be skipped over. Parker’s writing encourage us would-be gatherers to consider the purpose of our parties, the goal of our gatherings, the size of our meetings, the role of the host (don’t slack on this one), and the architecture of our space. This is the kind of work that compels readers to underline its energy-filled sentences with offerings like the following: “We gather to solve problems we can’t solve on our own. We gather to celebrate, to mourn, and to mark transitions. We gather to make decisions. We gather because we need one another. We gather to show strength. “ If you are looking to elevate your gatherings to an art in 2019 – something that I think we all need and even crave very much right now – look no further than this extremely important work. ~Lisa Cadow
We Need to Talk by Celeste Headlee (2017) – Honestly, I can’t review this book more accurately than indie bookstore reviewers did, so I am totally copying their review here. I will say, I think this book – once I actually incorporate some of its advice – may change my life. So from the indie bookstores’ review, “today most of us communicate from behind electronic screens, and studies show that Americans feel less connected and more divided than ever before. The blame for some of this disconnect can be attributed to our political landscape, but the erosion of our conversational skills as a society lies with us as individuals. And the only way forward, says Headlee, is to start talking to each other. In We Need to Talk, she outlines the strategies that have made her a better conversationalist—and offers simple tools that can improve anyone’s communication.” I add this book here to help you have great conversations during all those gatherings you will host and attend in 2019, and because I think we all could use some help having better conversations.
~ Lisa Christie
Brunch is Hell by Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newman (2017) – A humorous look at how to throw a dinner party, and save the world in the process, by the hosts of the public radio show The Dinner Party Download. Disclaimer — I have only perused this guide, but I plan to use it as a reference the next time I invite people into my home; perhaps for no other reason than this physical reminder of their lighthearted approach to important matters on their radio show may help me feel less stressed about any gathering. Besides, the authors’ major claim is — “if we revive the fading art of throwing dinner parties the world will be better off, and our country might heal its wounds of endless division” — and I’d like to believe they are correct. Note: The audio book version is read by the authors and is most likely very entertaining.
~ Lisa Christie
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