Reading guide for Chatter by Ethan Kross

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It

by Ethan Kross

Chatter by Ethan Kross X
Chatter by Ethan Kross
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2021, 272 pages

    Feb 2022, 288 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Nichole Brazelton
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Discuss a time when you felt you were impacted by your own mental chatter. Were you able to work your way through it? If so, what tactics did you use? Were any of those tactics similar to those described by Kross?
  2. Kross explains that our childhood caretakers can have a strong influence on our internal voice as we develop. Do you recognize the influence of your childhood caretakers on your inner voice now? Why or why not?
  3. In Andrew Irving 's study of New Yorkers' recorded internal speech, he observed that people's inner monologues "often landed on negative content with utterly no transition, like a gaping pothole appearing suddenly on the unspooling road of thought." Why do you think people are often drawn to the negative?
  4. According to a study cited in chapter one, what people are thinking about at a given time is often "a better predictor of their happiness than what they [are] actually doing." Did this surprise you? Why or why not?
  5. After an incredible high school baseball career, pitcher Rick Ankiel was drafted by the Cardinals. During his first full year in the majors, at age 21, Ankiel was the starting pitcher against the Braves in game one of the playoffs. Despite having pitched at an elite level for nearly his whole life, Ankiel struggled during that high-stress game. He began to throw wild pitch after wild pitch—something he had never done before—due in part to the stress he was experiencing. Have you ever experienced a time when chatter undermined your ability to perform well? Were you able to overcome your mental block? Why or why not?
  6. In chapter two, Kross outlines a set of studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s by Bernard Rimé in which he uncovered that, regardless of gender, age, culture, or geographical location, people are very strongly motivated to talk to others about most of their negative experiences. Why do you think this is the case? Who do you most often turn to when you're looking to share your negative experiences? Does talking to them make you feel better or worse?
  7. With the advent of social media, human beings "overshare more than ever before," according to Kross. How has social media changed the way that you express your thoughts and emotions to your friends, family, and peers? Do you think it has had a positive or negative impact on your relationships? Does observing other people share their emotions on social media impact you in any way?
  8. In 2011, Kross and his colleagues conducted a study that discovered that brain regions involved in physical pain also play a role in people's experience of emotional pain. The findings suggested that when people say their "feelings hurt" they may actually be referring to physical pain in their body. Have you had the experience of feeling emotional pain in your body? Can you describe it?
  9. In chapter three, Kross writes, "We can't see ourselves with the same distance and insight with which we see others." Does this ring true to you? Can you recall any examples of this from your own life?
  10. Kross describes the phenomenon of the "shrinking of the self," or moments "when you feel smaller in the midst of awe-inspiring sights ... [and] so do your problems." Have you ever experienced this shrinking of the self? When? Did you notice an impact on your chatter in that moment?
  11. Kross defines ritual and routine di!erently, describing rituals—which help to quiet chatter—as actions that "consist of a rigid sequence of behaviors often performed in the same order" and which "are infused with meaning." What are some rituals you have in your life? Do you see them as different from your routines? How do you and your family benefit from rituals?
  12. Many of us would like to have an inner voice that is consistently positive and uplifting. However, Kross argues that "you wouldn't want to live a life without an inner voice that upsets you some of the time. It would be like braving the sea in a boat with no rudder." Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  13. In what ways do you think changing the conversations you have with yourself has the potential to change your life?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Crown. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Rick Ankiel

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Mystery of Mysteries
    A Mystery of Mysteries
    by Mark Dawidziak
    Edgar Allan Poe biographers have an advantage over other writers because they don't have to come up ...
  • Book Jacket: Moonrise Over New Jessup
    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    by Jamila Minnicks
    Jamila Minnicks' debut novel Moonrise Over New Jessup received the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially...
  • Book Jacket
    The Magician's Daughter
    by H.G. Parry
    "Magic isn't there to be hoarded like dragon's treasure. Magic is kind. It comes into ...
  • Book Jacket: The Great Displacement
    The Great Displacement
    by Jake Bittle
    On August 4, 2021, California's largest single wildfire to date torched through the small mountain ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Nurse's Secret
by Amanda Skenandore
A fascinating historical novel based on the little-known story of America's first nursing school.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Once We Were Home
    by Jennifer Rosner

    From the author of The Yellow Bird Sings, a novel based on the true stories of children stolen in the wake of World War II.

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Russian Doll
    by Kristen Loesch

    A haunting epic of betrayal, revenge, and redemption following three generations of Russian women.

Who Said...

At times, our own light goes out, and is rekindled by a spark from another person.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!


Solve this clue:

R Peter T P P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.