The first book I finished in 2008 is Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most -- by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. This book is terrific if somewhat overwhelming. The thesis is that in order to communicate effectively, you have to understand what's not being said in the average conversation: the feelings involved, the identity issues. They have a lot of good advice for delving into what's really going on, asking questions, listening carefully, and so on. It's very important stuff, but it definitely paints a picture of even the smallest human interaction as amazingly complex. One begins to consider the benefits of a hermit-like lifestyle, engaging only in monologues with animals and plants. But, barring that, this information will probably make life easier in the end, if I can screw up my courage to put it into action. Yay!