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Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  307 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Intrigued by the romance of his own parents, who met in Washington Square Park, Ariel Sabar set off on a far-reaching search for other couples who married after first meeting in one of New York City’s iconic public spaces. Sabar conjures their big-city love stories in novel like detail, drawing us into the hearts of strangers just as their lives are about to change forever ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Da Capo Press (first published December 13th 2010)
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The worst part of this book was probably the rendering of Midwestern accents. Anytime someone was from the Midwest they sounded like a cross between characters in Fargo and Sarah Palin. Unfortunately the writing was often a little lackluster. Stories about people meeting in public places in New York should be compelling. They mostly weren't. My favorite part of the book was the section of the epilogue that caught up with two of the people who are now aged (and adorable) academics. One of them us ...more
Jul 30, 2014 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories are introduced as a study looking at how public places foster connections between people and the aspects that draw people together. The author then collected and put together stories of people meeting in public spaces around New York leading to marriage. The stories are more retelling from the actual people than story but a really interesting idea.
Jun 13, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
You must realize how excited I was when I saw this book. I'm surprised I didn't hear more about it before it came out. But as soon as I saw it I realized it would be the perfect book to review for Valentine's Day! And every story in this book takes place in my favorite place ever!.... NYC!!

Now, I've veered far from those romantic ideals I had as a young girl and the "love stories" you find in a lot of fiction. I feel like, despite being in a very happy marriage, that I'm far too cynical to enjoy
Nov 18, 2015 Georgie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of true stories about couples who met and started on lifelong relationships in New York City.
As with any collection, I enjoyed all the stories but some were better than others. I liked all the people in the stories, but again, some more than others I loved the setting of New York, and the variety of locations where the couples met - Central Park, Grand Central Station, on the street near Carnegie Hall, on the subway, in Times Square, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in Washington
May 13, 2011 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was picked by my book club, though I was planning to read it anyway. So far, about half way through, I am thoroughly enjoying it.


I really enjoyed this book. The author, struck by the role of Washington Square Park in his own parents' unlikely pairing, sought out stories across the decades of couples who met at NY landmarks like Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum. The result is quirky and charming. I thought the premise was adorable, the stories were interesting, and t
Kasa Cotugno
If you love New York and can't get enough of reading about it, this book will fit into a definite slot. Taking inspiration from his parents' first meeting in Washington Square Park, Sabar has chosen nine locations in the City and has managed to track down couples who have met in each and gone on to have fulfilling lives together. The City plays a huge part in this book, and those sections dealing with its history and the trivia about the locations make for the most compelling reading. There is a ...more
Jan 08, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I give this a 3.75. I enjoy Ariel Sabar's writing. His first book My Father's Paradise is in my top ten list of books I've read the last 10 years. When I saw he had written another book even though the subject matter was much different I had to read it.
Love Stories is about how complete strangers fall in love in public places in New York. Each of the nine stories is about twenty pages and Sabar gives us a postscript of each at the end. I found the stories light and charming, although predictabl
Nadine Jones
May book club pick.

True stories of (happily) married couples who met at various famous landmarks in New York City, inspired by the author's parents, who met in Washington Square Park. I started out completely charmed by this book, I loved the idea of relationships that never would have happened if it weren't for the specific PLACE, and I loved the first relationship. But then I found myself less fond of the second (or was it third?) couple, and I became frustrated with the stories, I wanted more
Apr 23, 2012 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The research done for this book was even less elegantly incorporated than in MWF Seeking BFF. A big chunk of social and environmental psychology research at the beginning comes across almost like a paper I would have written for one of my undergrad courses. It's not bad, and it's relevant to the book's general thesis examining how public spaces and emotional states contribute to human connectedness, but it doesn't scream "Give me a National Book Award!" either. And once the nine stories begin, t ...more
Jan 13, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ariel Sabar starts out with an intriguing concept, and though his introduction explains it in a slightly dry manner, it's kind of the nature of the topic and the studies he cites are interesting. I always love hearing how people meet, so reading nine love stories was like being a fly on the wall. Except I don't know what the couples look like, and had to wait until the end to find out what happened after Sabar left off. Because of that, I had to refresh my memory on who each couple was. To his c ...more
Jul 11, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love NYC and stories related to the city and this book was no exception.

Overall, I loved it. Granted, some stories I liked more than others, but thought the author did a really good job of finding interesting couples who met in NYC over a period of several decades and in a variety of public places and circumstances.

Like the real-life individuals in this book who met by accident, I found this book by accident, and was glad I did.

I even liked the very technical, and bit too-long prologue in the
Kevin McAllister
Mar 31, 2012 Kevin McAllister rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable read. Each story was sweetly romantic without being overly sappy. If there was was drawback to the stories it was that they all ended so abruptly. There was the meeting, then the courtship. But once the agreement to marry was made the narration just stopped. To make up for these abrupt endings the author include a chapter at the end of the book detailing how each couple made out with the rest of their lives. I would have rather these were weaved into each chapter rather ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd give this book 3.5 stars, if I could. I really enjoyed the introduction that explained all of the urban planning and psychology of the built environment. I also enjoyed hearing the "how they met" stories, set to the backdrop of NYC. However, knowing in advance that they all ended happily ever after sometimes made the book seem like it was lacking in depth. It was a quick read and definitely engaging, but I think the short story nature of it, made it seem like each story was shortchanged.

Aug 29, 2011 Libby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming book showing how the principle of environmental psychology makes it easier to meet people who are thrown together in a crowded place like New York City and exploring true stories of how couples met each other in various well-known New York City landmarks (the author's parents met in Washington Square Park)--Times Square, Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grand Central Station, Empire State Building, the subway, the street, Statue of Liberty, Washington Square Park. Would make a ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a great idea. It's about public places, all in NYC, and the couples who met in them and ended up marrying.
The introduction about what factors help promote a friendly public space and what ones don't was very interesting. You know a great spot in the city when you see it but what makes you feel that?
The actual stories weren't all winners. It seems it's hard to add drama and suspense to "we met, we fell in love, we married".
The follow-up on the couples after they married was fun howe
Mar 13, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non-fiction, yet again. Seems like most books are non-fiction these days. I am not a big fan of short stories, but I decided to take this collection on because of it's unique approach. Stories of random meetings of people in NY city who fell in love. Overall I really liked it. Interesting, chance meetings, mostly of people who had realistic up and down relationships given the way they met. If you like NY, you will find this at the very least interesting.
May 03, 2013 Jonah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Really interesting format: thirty some pages about theories about how spaces affect how we act, followed by nine stories (each of which is preceded by a one page introduction to the space they met in), and then at the end, some conclusion and where they are now.
Some of the stories I thought were really good and others were sappy. I read the introduction AFTER the stories, at which point the theory was more interesting.
Oct 16, 2011 Shari rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I don't like short stories. Once in a while a fantastic author like Jumpha Lahiri makes me a liar. Unfortunately, Sabar confirms my prejudice about short stories. This book is a collection of love stories set in New York. Sabar spends too mcuh time giving background information in these stories. The two people met and on the next page (a bit of exaggeration) they're getting married. Not enough time to develop a real story. Give me a novel any day.
Nov 29, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of nine short non-fiction stories about how couples met in New York City in public places and eventually got married was quite pleasant. It was fast, enjoyable reading. I read it because I had read another book by the author Ariel Sabar "My Father's Paradise." That book had a lot more to say and was a more interesting read than this one was. This one was entertaining without much deeper meaning than that.
Jul 31, 2011 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nine stories about real couples who met and fell in love in NYC. There were some older stories and contemporary ones and at the end is an epilogue. The first story was the most interesting and the others never really captured the magic of that one. Some of the stories seemed less interesting than what I would overhear in a restaurant about how two people met, but the backdrop was nice and it was well written so I did finish it.
Mar 19, 2011 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories within this book are so well written. The author has an wonderful cadence to his writing. Each story is charming, heartwarming and uplifting. What a wonderful premise for a story; places and the people who visit them and find, by pure happenstance, the one person they will spend the rest of their life loving. This is a must read, and all the more so if you have the good fortune to live in New York City near the fabulous places in this book.
Aug 24, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
My favorite stories were Green (Central Park) and Navigation (Grand Central Terminal), and while I certainly enjoyed some stories better than others, the book as whole was enjoyable. It makes me want to go out without my headphones more often and to really appreciate where I live and the people around me.
Kathy Barton
Jan 12, 2013 Kathy Barton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was reading this book for a challenge and I really loved it. There were 9 short stories and all had a place in NYC as where they met, such as Times Square, Grand Central Station, the statue of Liberty, and the subway. Each story was also set in a different time period. At the end of the book it gave an epilogue of each couple. Very well written and enjoyable!
Dec 03, 2011 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A book of 9 true tales of people who met and fell in love in NYC. Mostly, it's a fun and pleasant read. Some of the relationships seemed a little weird to me - not my cup of tea, I guess. I had to wonder if they actually had staying power. But maybe that's just me. Otherwise, I enjoyed the book a lot. Except I wish it had pictures of the couples. What was up with that?
Shallowreader VaVeros
Like many other romance readers, I love hearing about how people first met and fell in love. This book is a collection of 9 short stories based on real couples who met at specific places in New York City. They are all lovely stories, some of them had me catching my breath with their sweetness and love. A gorgeous read.
Mar 11, 2011 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
I think I liked the introduction the best. (Seriously it was an interesting one! Makes me want to read about the design of public spaces.) Cute stories, but I suppose short love stories in rapid succession are not my thing. It happens enough in real life! I'm bumping it up to 3 stars instead of 2 because it is always nice to be reminded of home. :)
Kris Wells
Jan 01, 2014 Kris Wells rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love New York City so I loved this book! Some stories were more interesting than others and some couples seemed more likeable than others but, overall, I enjoyed reading about how they met and how New York City played into their relationships. Nothing earth shattering happens. It's just a pleasant, happy book of love stories set in New York City.
Jan 06, 2013 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I really enjoyed all the stories throughout this book, if fact it would have been 5 stars if not for the psychology textbook introduction. Once you get past Psych 101 in the epilogue, the stories are heartwarming. I love that each couple is connected to a specific NY landmark and that it is as much part of their relationship as their counterpart.
Feb 14, 2012 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect for a Valentine's Day mood. This is a series of short stories about couples who met in public places, often on the street or in parks around NYC. Some of the stories are more substantial than others, but it's a sweet book.
May 18, 2011 Pia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although a bit on the cheesy side, it's a historical account of how people met on the streets. With the stories of "Oh, we met in a bar" or "we were introduced," these stories set New York City up as the ultimate matchmaker. The stories were well written and extremely well researched.
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Ariel Sabar won the National Book Critics Circle Award for his debut book, My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq (2008). His second book, Heart of the City (2011), was called a "beguiling romp" (New York Times) and an "engaging, moving and lively read" (Toronto Star). His Kindle Single, The Outsider: The Life and Times of Roger Barker (2014), was a best-selling n ...more
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“You could make mistakes when you lived together because you knew you'd wake up the next morning with another chance.” 12 likes
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