My favourite genre in books is usually a psychological thriller. Some serial killer on the loose, some unknown mystery and twist in the tale. But in recent years, my reading habits have reduced dramatically which I admit is not a good thing for someone who aspires to be a writer.
Ironically, of the few books I read this year, the one that I enjoyed the most had no monsters, villains or even detectives. It was just an old man giving speeches and talking about life. But it is an old man who I have respected since the first time I saw him as an actor and that respect has only grown with time as I found out more about his philanthropic, broad-minded, feminist views in an era when it was deemed weird.
"Things I Overhead While Talking To Myself" is, at it's essence, a collection of speeches given by the extremely articulate and witty actor Alan Alda. Some are speeches given at graduation ceremonies, some are eulogies while others are addresses given at memorials.
It could have been just that - a bunch of speeches - but with Alan Alda's creative narration, you get so much more. He begins each chapter with a heartfelt anecdote - how he nearly died atop a mountain in Chile, how he dealt with his mother's illness, his own polio, his impoverished beginnings or the decision to say no to easy money as a struggling actor while he was doing part time jobs to feed his family - and then connects it to a speech he has given at some future point of his life before a larger audience, showcasing the life lesson he learned along the way and how it related to us all.
There is a reason he was so inspirational as an actor in M*A*S*H* and was called upon to deliver so many motivational speeches across the world in his lifetime. You get to see how life has moulded him and how he has chosen to react to adversity and therein lies the brilliance of this man.