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Publisher's Summary

Renowned media scholar Sherry Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity - and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.

We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

Preeminent author and researcher Sherry Turkle has been studying digital culture for over 30 years. Long an enthusiast for its possibilities, here she investigates a troubling consequence: at work, at home, in politics, and in love, we find ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don't have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves.

We develop a taste for what mere connection offers. The dinner table falls silent as children compete with phones for their parents' attention. Friends learn strategies to keep conversations going when only a few people are looking up from their phones. At work we retreat to our screens although it is conversation at the water cooler that increases not only productivity but commitment to work. Online we want to share only opinions that our followers will agree with - a politics that shies away from the real conflicts and solutions of the public square.

The case for conversation begins with the necessary conversations of solitude and self-reflection. They are endangered: These days, always connected, we see loneliness as a problem that technology should solve. Afraid of being alone, we rely on other people to give us a sense of ourselves, and our capacity for empathy and relationship suffers. We see the costs of the flight from conversation everywhere: Conversation is the cornerstone for democracy, and in business it is good for the bottom line. In the private sphere, it builds empathy, friendship, love, learning, and productivity.

But there is good news: We are resilient. Conversation cures.

©2015 Sherry Turkle (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Low-key urgency flows steadily beneath Kirsten Potter's appealing interpretation of this important audiobook about our diminishing ability to connect with people in intimate ways. Her clear phrasing, full of texture and sonority, makes listeners want to hear every syllable and comprehend every idea." (AudioFile)

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Average Customer Ratings

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So good, I had to stop listening.

What made the experience of listening to Reclaiming Conversation the most enjoyable?

I thought I was buying an audio book about conversation (hints for conversation starters at parties, etc.). That was my mistake. This book details how families, parents, teens, young adults are so distracted by phones and apps that they can't have a face to face conversation. I liked hearing how families are dealing with the digital onslaught.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Couldn't take it anymore. It is a long book and I really didn't want to hear anymore about families and couples that fight, eat dinner, spend time with each other while constantly being on their phones. I hate to see it in real life and so found it too irritating to listen to for the whole book.

Have you listened to any of Kirsten Potter’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

I can't believe families have fights on text, group text apps. I am worried about us.

Any additional comments?

Ugh. In a way I guess I am glad to know this info, but I really wish I didn't.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Obvious and redundant

While I typically enjoy writings such as these, I found this book to be incredibly obvious and horribly redundant chapter to chapter. The message and information contained is both important and practical, but was drawn out to 50+ chapters in what could have just as easily been fully elucidated in more concise form.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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As a young individual in the workforce, I loved it

What a fun way to look through that lense. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommended it to many people at work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Repetitive

Couldn't finish it. Too boring. Horribly repetitive. Wasted hours hoping the author would say something new, but no luck.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Most important book of our age

Literally the most important book of our age. Very worthwhile. But it for all your friends and family. Talk about it. Teach, converse.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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repetitive but interesting

I think this could have been about half the length. The book seemed repetitive with references to the same things too often. I liked how the book brought up how much we ignore people and situations to be 'in our phone' and online and how we use it to avoid silence and are therefore making it more difficult to just socialize and get to know each other as strangers in society.

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Important Book for our times, but repetitive.

Turkle's work and perspective are vital for our time, this book was a bit tough to get through in audio form as it's very repetitive.

  • Overall
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Really makes you think

This was very well written with multiple examples across multiple areas to show where we are lacking in communication as a society. It gives recommendations for how to make change without going back to a primitive time, and engage with our family, peers, customers, and coworkers.

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  • kd
  • 05-02-16

Powerful - and a bit scary.

I really enjoy listening to Dr. Turkle's books. I think a lot about the loss of conversation in our society, and what may result. If you do as well, give a listen.

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Well worth reading

Very timely very thought-provoking and everyone under 30 and over 30 should read it. While it gets a little repetitive at times, its main points are extremely important at this point in our existence. Finding the balance between relationships with real people and using our technology for our good is not an easy task

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • K. Goldschmitt
  • 06-14-16

Better as a TED talk or podcast

I found this to be a very repetitive book with a few really compelling points. Turkle seems to buy into the premise that Autism is about a lack of empathy in her statements that our love for technology is turning the next generation into a bunch of autistics. The same goes with her statements about engineers as administrators. I find that and her comments about 'normal' social interactions to be off-putting. What I like is the evidence she provides that our addiction to our devices are making meaningful connection more difficult. And I will also implement some of her suggestions as a friend, partner, teacher, and colleague.