2016 Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Humans of New York: Stories

Brandon Stanton, author and curator of the wildly popular HUMANS OF NEW YORK Facebook page (and following books), is very much your normal white American man. I made an exception to my challenge to look through HUMANS OF NEW YORK: STORIES. I randomly picked it up and my library and decided that this book more or less fits my challenge since the only stories are real life accounts from normal people on the street. I want to read diversely in order to hear stories from people that are different than me and this book seemed to be the perfect way to do so.

51MITeDsQlL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Reading this book was a humbling experience. Each story is coupled with an image of the person Stanton was speaking with. It’s usually a full facial shot, but sometimes it’s just a pair of hands or a scarf when the speaker doesn’t want anyone to know their identity. To see people and then hear their stories was a continual reminder that we come from all walks and we all have a story worth telling. As I turned the pages I found myself inspired by those who are working hard to achieve their dreams, heartbroken over those who are struggling, and laughing at the joy found on faces of children and the love of couples married for years. HUMANS OF NEW YORK: STORIES reminded me of how delightful and painful it can be to human.

But a small part of me wonders if I’ve gotten the full story. In the introduction, Stanton commented that he often talks with these people for 15-20 minutes, yet usually only a paragraph or two accompanies each photograph. What else was said? How many of these stories are taken out of context? Were certain clips selected because they fit an image or a mood that Stanton wanted to set?

This only reinforced for me the value of hearing stories about people from different backgrounds from those people. There is nothing more powerful than hearing someone tell their own story.

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