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Talk to the Hand [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Lynne Truss
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 31 2005
This title is a hilarious rallying cry for courtesy, written and read by the bestselling author of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves". 'Talk to the hand, coz the face ain't listening', the saying goes. How did society get so rude? "Talk to the Hand" explores the boorishness of the modern world, and the sense of outrage that infects us when we discover that other people are - generally speaking - crass, selfish and inconsiderate. That man just dropped a cigarette packet on the floor. Should you do anything? You say to the shop assistant, 'Can you tell me the price of this? There doesn't appear to bea label' and she says, 'What do you think I am, psychic?'. In her follow-up to "Eats, Shoots & Leaves", Lynne Truss asks why rudeness is a universal flashpoint and examines specific sources of affront. What ever happened to 'please' and 'thank you'? Why does the customer have to do all the work? Why do people behave in public as if they are in private? Whatever happened to the idea of public-spiritedness? It's a big rant, essentially. But on the plus side, it's quite short and has virtually no hard facts to slow the argument. You are advised that there is nothing here about pandas or punctuation, and that anyone listening out for grammatical errors will be considered a bit of a bore.

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From Publishers Weekly

This isn't a book about good manners, per se. Instead, the British author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves sets out "to mourn... the apparent collapse of civility in all areas of our dealing with strangers; then to locate a tiny flame of hope in the rubble." It's a plea to show some consideration to others, especially in certain areas: (1) "Was That So Hard to Say?" ("thank you"); (2) "Why am I the One Doing This?" (e.g., punching doggedly through the automated switchboard); (3) "My Bubble, My Rules" (forcing others to listen to a private conversation on a mobile phone); (4) "The Universal Eff-Off Reflex" (outrage when antisocial behavior is pointed out); (5) "Booing the Judges" (active disrespect for the umpire, the older person, anyone in authority); and (6) "Someone Else Will Clean It Up" (e.g., rubbish tossed out the car window). Truss expounds on these themes with fine ire, mordant humor and many examples, but it must be said that the result is not so much a book as a heavily padded magazine article. Not that this will bother the many book buyers who will tuck it lovingly into the Christmas stockings of their somewhat discomfited nearest and dearest.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'So lively, so witty, so exhilaratingly splenetic' Mail on Sunday 'Highly perceptive, passionately argued and extremely funny... a brilliantly nailed truth about contemporary life' Sunday Telegraph 'Trademark Truss... (very) readable, (very) funny, (very) engaging' Observer 'Bloody funny and an effin good read' Sunday Independent, Dublin" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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4.0 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end of civility May 25 2006
Format:Hardcover
There are many books today that bemoan the end of manners and civility in an era on selfish me-first society driven by the mindless consumerism of TV and pop culture. Few of them have any humour, none of them (that I've read) have the wit Truss imparts.
Just as the Internet is killing grammar and punctuation, TV is killing social graces. We're being taught to be rude, ignorant and insufferable as well as demanding and impatient. Many people toay seem to use Beavis and Butthead as their role models and more will learn from that and similar shows. Given that the average North American watches 22-25 hours of TV a week, and the vast amount of popular programming is dreck, that's not surprising.
Truss doesn't offer us any quick-fix answers; hers is more a gentle screed on our cultural development. And, of course, how bloody awful we are in the way we interact. We all know that we've arrived in some social hell in the proverbial handbasket, but she says it so much better than most of us.
She does suggest that by following a few simple rules of engagement we might lower the annoyance level a bit - use of forgotten terms like please and thank you, a little more social deference instead of the enforced familiarity foisted on us by customer service manuals, and in a very Buddhist sense, taking responsibility for your own actions, rather than leaving your mess for others to clean up.
An important point is that Truss delineates between "posh" manners which are rules of etiquette for their own sake (social graces which are usually intertwined with class structure), and social manners which govern and mitigate the way we interact at the street level.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For whom the bell tolls April 12 2006
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a superb and important book. Those hoping to find an amusing follow-up to Ms. Truss's previous work on punctuation will naturally be disappointed; as will those who cannot understand what she's talking about because they commit the very offences she describes and see nothing wrong with them.
This brief book is nothing less than a treatise on the decline of western civilisation, and as the bibliography demonstrates, it is amazingly well researched. It sets out the types of 'rudeness' that are really forms of attack in the guise of personal freedom, such as a lack of inhibition in public no matter how much others are distressed by it, a lack of civility in customer relations, and the failure any longer to recognize anyone else's right to respect if it conflicts with your own immediate, impulsive need. Good manners may be seen as an outdated inconvenience to some, but they are a mark of how harmoniously a society functions. As Ms. Truss points out, no one any longer wants to be corrected in any way since correction is taken as personal criticism. People no longer understand the concept of shame. If they want to do or say anything, that is all the authority they need to do or say that thing, no matter how rude or inappropriate it is. Pointing out how someone's inconsiderateness is disturbing you can lead to a punch in the face, or worse.
There have been other times in history when people have claimed that the end of civilization is nigh, but I think for sheer degeneracy our current era will be hard to beat. Pendulums have a habit of swinging back, usually farther than anyone likes. It won't surprise me a bit if eventually some draconian authority takes power in the West and ensures that we not only don't chew any more gum but that we conform in ways that will make today's Singapore look like a paradise of liberality. We will only have ourselves to blame.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I guess I'm too rude. Jan. 3 2006
Format:Hardcover
I expected the same humour and "I agree!" moments that Truss's last book, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves," afforded me. I was disappointed. I found myself disagreeing with her repeatedly, and the anger that seemed more on the joking side in "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" came out much less funny this time around. Perhaps I'm just rude, but many of the things she claims to be terrible breaches of manners don't seem that big of a deal to me.
However, she lends a few interesting insights into the realm of why we think certain things are rude, and why we desire recognition for being polite. It is these occasional tidbits that earn this two stars, rather than one. Still, they are not a redeeming aspect, so I would recommend that a potential buyer (a) borrow this from a friend/the library or (b) find something else to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars We are not alone! Dec 21 2011
Format:Paperback
Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss is an easy and delightful read, similar to her previous book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. The only problem I had was that many of the mannerisms were very "English" and even the way she speaks is very "English", not that this is all that bad. The English are known for a kind of humour that mocks their "proper behavious" in a rather raunchy way. Truss reverses this process. She gives hilarious examples of rude behavior that is very much in line with our new technological era, but is very serious about her disappointment in the human race for being unaware that there are other people in the room. I fully agreed with almost all of her issues, although I am hardly a man who is fixated on manners. I do, however, see that if we do not do something about improving our manners, we will simply lose sight of anyone else in the room but us, and that would indeed be a tragedy. This book very skillfully points out where we are heading and how we can stop the stupidity by just stopping the behavior. We need not be rude by nature; it is a matter of being aware of the simple fact: "We are not alone". And this is not just to refer to having a God hanging about.

My advice to all is not just to enjoy the humour but to look at your behavior. The next time that cell phone rings in the middle of a conversation with another, do you a) answer it, b) answer it with an apology, c) dont't answer it and let it ring d) don't answer and let it ring with an apology, e) shut it off or f) shut the damn thing off with an apology? What is even more important is to examine why you have it in your pocket in the first place. What does that say about you and your relationship with OTHERS around you? Are you able to cope with "delayed gratification"?
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  151 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk to the Hand and Look into the Mirror July 30 2006
By Thomas M. Loarie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lynn Truss has written another witty book that will stick well beyond the initial read. "Talk to the Hand" is a good whack to the head. In "Talk," Truss defines and analyzes six areas in which our dealings with strangers seem to be getting more unpleasant and inhuman.

Truss highlights the loss of punctuation signaling the vast and under-acknowledged problem of illiteracy in "Eats, Shoots, & Leaves." In "Talk," she addresses the collapse of manners and the vast and under-acknowledged problem of social immorality.

In Chapter 3, "My bubble, my rules," Truss goes after the issue of personal space and a person's right to be left alone, unmolested, undisturbed, that is until the arrival of the cell phone! Now, we are forced to listen to another's intimate conversation in restaurants, grocery stores, and even in the john...The tension between public and private space is a growing flashpoint.

Have you ever asked someone to move outside with their cell phone? If not, proceed immediately to Chapter 4, "The Universal Eff-off Reflex," and learn about the lash-back reflex of shocking proportions which your are about to receive for pointing out bad manners.

According to Truss, you can equate good manners not only with virtue in today's environment but also with positive heroism. "Talk" is a good mirror for all of us to look into.
53 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I bailed by page 86 Jan. 21 2006
By K. W. Schreiter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Familiar with the author's 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves', I saw this small book in our library's new release section. While there are a few thoughtful passages, the book mainly contains inconsistent rants about the decline of polite society. These include a puzzling, embarassing attack on the gluten and lactose intolerant and a passage comparing online banking to 'doing you own dental work' (sic) and 'DIY funerals: the modern way'. Truss laments our lack of 'please' and 'thank you' but then disavows 'the enforced perkiness of American service workers'. She acknowledges the empowering effect of the availability of choices to modern women, then complains that too many choices exist in today's society. My outrage at the $20.00 hardcover list price for 200 pages further contributed to the low rating, especially considering each page barely contains a half-dozen sentences.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truss Comes Back Fighting the Extinction of Etiquette March 19 2008
By Ed Uyeshima - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Embittered albeit bemused finger-wagging appears to be author Lynne Truss' specialty, and I have to say I find her newest little tome on the global lack of respect and good manners even more cutting than her bad grammar colonic, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Both books reflect her British sense of civility with lacerating wit and shrewd observation, but this one feels more like a rant than a how-to manual on how to improve upon such social breeches. However, she does a clear-eyed job in analyzing the origins of such barbaric behavior.

In her previous book, Truss saw the decline of punctuation as indicative of the increasing spread of illiteracy. Here she suggests that the collapse of manners is the tip of what she calls a "social immorality iceberg", i.e., a decreasing competency in building community and using manners as a sign of mutual respect. In fact, there will definitely many who view her definition of what used to be considered basic good manners as elitist. For example, she may be a member of a shrinking populace who bristle when there is the absence of a simple "Thank you," and "You're welcome" when a door is held open. I happen to be in her camp, so I am quite amenable to her observations. Inevitably, there will be the impolite thinkers who demand quantitative data to back up her arguments. However, because so little data is available on long-term trends, Truss doesn't bother with statistics, and instead devotes six short chapters to examples of how behavior that was unthinkable a generation ago has become normal.

The weakness of the book is that she offers no actionable solutions. Her examples are entertaining but beyond hoping that someone will recognize the problem, she doesn't anticipate that things will improve. In fact, it seems like a missed opportunity to lay out a plan for how people really ought to behave in social situations with tangible steps for her readers (or more appropriately, the rude friends of her readers) to follow. Her reason for this omission is that she doesn't want to be held up to such constant scrutiny which seems like an unnecessary concession. Yet, Truss's concern for the morality of our everyday interactions is thorough and affecting, and to her credit, she never tries to simplify the subject given its political and moral dimensions. She celebrates intolerance and does attempt to set out a manifesto toward the end of the book. Just like the basis of the rising Labor movement in her homeland, Truss believes that manners are connected to the common good, and I have to agree that acts of kindness ennoble the world in which we live.
57 of 73 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So bad it's rude.... Jan. 7 2006
By P. Clarke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Upon reading this book I can only conclude that the publishers persuaded (forced)Truss to write another book as any rubbish she churned out would ride sweetly on the back of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. The very concept of the book has literally been done to death and it has definitely been done a great deal more entertainingly.

Her choice of topics used for examples frankly beggars belief. Mobile phones on trains, call centre automated answering systems, discourteous drivers and so on, oh hillarious, I never thought of those!!! - not only does she use these mind numbingly dull themes, totally void of any originality, but she uses them over and over and over again.

She has also invested an inordinate amount of text space promoting her previous success, there is barely a paragraph that doesn't remind you how jolly clever she was writing her best seller.

The most irritating thing about this book is that most of the "rude" things she describes are not even vaguely rude; instead they are just annoying.... Actually one thing is more irritating and that is the fact that she will no doubt make a huge wad of cash from this crap. Basically the book is really, really weak. She is incredibly fortunate to have some influential chums who wanted this book to succeed.

If a stand up comic came up with even a snippet of this they would be immediately booed off stage.

Not funny, not clever.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, But Not as Good as Her Previous Book Dec 30 2007
By Barry Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is Truss' followup to her immensely successful "Eats, Shoots and Leaves. According to the cover it's also a New York Times best seller, but I'm sure I hasn't done as well as her first book. She was ranting about poor punctuation in her earlier book; in this she's ranting about poor manners. And I will agree with much of what she says. The book is a delight to read and she still has a lot of humor in it, but it doesn't measure up to her earlier book. Her writng style is quite similar and she is still fun to read, but perhaps she's a little more angry in this book and that takes the edge off it. Nevertheless the book is worth buying.
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