Humans of New York Book Review

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I have been to New York City only once, when I was 7 years old. I barely remember it. On top of that, as a lifelong resident of “flyover country” I’ve always felt a certain resentment at the amount of screen and page time devoted to stories about the city, at the expense of almost every other American city but LA (and perhaps Washington DC), and even worse, the common (though not universal) attitude of New Yorkers themselves that their city is the center of the world and anyone not lucky enough to live there (or at least visit regularly) is blighted, uncultured, and backwards. I mean, I’d like to go back some day, just so I can say I have, but it’s substantially lower on my list than, you know, visiting all 59 national parks or something like that. I have exactly ZERO interest in living there, even for a year. Big cities are not my forte to begin with and New York is both populous and compact. The very thought of all that humanity piled on top of itself practically makes me break out in hives.

So it was much to my own surprise that I found myself pulled in by the popular blog Humans of New York, by photographer Brandon Stanton. I think what makes the blog so wonderful (for me) is how it distills the essence of all that humanity – the wit and wisdom, the beauty and eccentricity, the stories – without the stench and noise and claustrophobia of it all.

If the blog is distilled essence of humanity, the book is distilled essence of blog – 400 of Stanton’s best and favorite photos from his first three years of photoblogging. It’s a beautiful book – by turns uplifting, thought-provoking, and funny. Not bad to look at either.

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My rating: (4 / 5)