2023 NAIWE Coffee Table Book Winner
Author: Erin Berkery
Life is filled with situations calling for small talk. Company meeting. Office holiday party. Family get together. Supermarket run in. Community event.
However, most people just aren’t good at participating in small talk. In this amusing book, Erin Berkery highlights the entertaining aspects of the pointless conversations people have almost every day.
The book began with an introduction that seemed a bit long for a quick read, but when the topic was introduced, the author’s enjoyable and humorous tone made this well-known human interaction an entertaining topic (rather than the mild agony of stepping on a Lego, the author’s metaphor for participating in some forms of small talk), setting the stage for the rest of the book.
Part 1 highlights some topics that should never be part of small talk conversations — some of which are! Erin provides reasons why each should not be a topic and includes sample conversations to highlight the points. The author even makes up statistics that almost sound plausible to add humor to the topic.
Erin’s numerous footnotes revel in the humorous tone, which add more personal thoughts on the topic and may stir up more smiles and laughter from the reader.
At the conclusion of each topic is a selection of three slightly horrible strategies to try. These small talk conversation starters never to try are witty and humorous. Although the selection seems a bit random and may have been more beneficial to the reader if the “horrible strategies” directly related to the topic that had just concluded.
The final section of the book includes several lists. First is a list of divisive small talk ideas, followed by a list of questions to confuse others. These lists are equally entertaining and include a few items the reader may want to try purely for the entertainment factor. The book concludes with a list of ways to end a conversation. While some may be a bit outrageous, others may be good ways to end a conversation that is dragging on.
This 95-page book with 57 witty footnotes makes for a fun read while waiting to be called into a doctor’s office or your boss’s office, preparing you for what not to say!
Congratulations, Erin Berkery’s How Not to Make Small Talk: The Unauthorized Rules for Inoffensive Small Talk for being a NAIWE 2023 Book Award winner!