I highly recommend the book to anyone who'd like to better understand the sounds of speech. It's clear and engaging, and it's a model of how to teach through direct experience. Here's how Catford puts it in the book's preface:
Readers are introduced to the phonetic classification of the sounds of speech by means of a series of simple introspective experiments carried out inside their own vocal tracts, their own throats and mouths. By actually making sounds (very often silently) and attending to the muscular sensations that accompany their production one can discover how they are produced and learn how to describe and classify them.
At first sight 'making sounds silently' may appear contradictory, but, as Abercrombie (1967) has aptly pointed out, speech is 'audible gesture' and the principal aim of this book is to enable the reader to discover and to analyse the gestural aspect of speech (upon which most phonetic classification is based) and to bring it under conscious control.
I find phonetics fascinating and fun and a huge help in learning languages. You develop a familiarity with the vocal tract and a precise understanding of how to shape it to produce different sounds and how those "audible gestures" transition one into the next.
One benefit is not having to rely on vague descriptions like "this sound is somewhere in between English b and v." You can instead use precise phonetic terminology and IPA symbols, and after a while it takes little effort to know what they represent. And sometimes you can skip terms and symbols completely and just hear new sounds and have a good sense of what's happening in the vocal tract to produce them.
If there's interest, here are a couple possibilities for how the thread could work. One is, we could have a reading group and go through the book together at a certain pace. Perhaps a chapter a week? At that pace, we would finish in about two and a half months. Or, if there isn't so much interest in coordinating things that way, the thread could just remain open, and anyone reading the book at any time could ask questions here.
The book is designed for self-study, so a thread like this is by no means necessary. But it can be helpful to read along with others and be able to ask questions and clarify things.
And this is very much open to everyone. If you're totally new to phonetics, I really think this book is a great way to start.
And I also wholeheartedly encourage other phonetics buffs on the forum to participate. The thread would definitely benefit from your knowledge and experience, and it would be good to have multiple perspectives on things. And I think this book is great for folks who've already studied phonetics too. I've read it a couple times already, and I expect I would still learn a lot from a reread.
Incidentally (since if I was considering participating in something like this, I would want to know), my background is three years of grad school in linguistics. I finished the coursework for an MA, including three phonetics classes, and my thesis is also focused on phonetics, but I still haven't finished the thesis, and I don't know if I will. I would say I have a good knowledge of phonetics, but I didn't end up pursuing a career in it, and I'm not an expert. But hopefully I and other forum members who know about phonetics could help clarify anything that might come up.
Anyway, I highly recommend the book and would be happy to read it as a group if there's interest or else to leave the thread open to any questions about it. And very open to any other ideas on how the thread could be most helpful.
Oh, and you can preview the book here on Amazon. That's the second edition, which has updates to the "further reading" section and to some of the figures. Other than that, I think the two editions are quite close, so either could be used.