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Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project
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Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project

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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  2,798 ratings  ·  657 reviews
As heard on NPR?a wondrous nationwide celebration of our shared humanity

StoryCorps founder and legendary radio producer Dave Isay selects the most memorable stories from StoryCorps? collection, creating a moving portrait of American life.

The voices here connect us to real people and their lives?to their experiences of profound joy, sadness, courage, and despair, to good
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bee
*I edited this* Listening is an act of love. Even if I weren't already a huge fan of NPR's StoryCorps, that statement alone would have caught my eye. Nine times out of ten I come into work on Friday mornings sniffly and red-eyed from having listened to StoryCorps during Morning Edition. Just getting 100 pages into the book today during my lunch hour already had me tearing up, so maybe I'll have to restrict reading it to only occasions when I won't look like a lunatic from weeping over a book. Wh ...more
Malbadeen
You need to know somethings about my family and me before I tell you what I thought about this book. We are TALKERS. We are debaters, theorizers, and lamenters. I mean we can REALLY TALK *A LOT*. So much so, that I am considered the down to earth* one because It's not uncommon for me to announce that "I'm not interested in talking about that anymore, that topic bores me, you're being too theoretical for me to follow you anymore" etc, etc, etc

*I'm replacing "down to earth" with the sentiment tha
...more
Mollypae
People aren't all that bad.
Kat
I am making my way through this extraordinary book - we saw the Storycorps booth in NYC in Grand Central and thought that it was a wonderful idea and then moved on with the crowd. I suppose that is what strikes me as I read this - if we don't consciously sit down and map out the foundation of our roots through the sharing of stories with loved ones then we are lost on the road. I wish I had asked so many more questions of my grandmother. She emanated such light and some striking dark tones. I am ...more
Laura
Aug 02, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Laura by: NPR, StoryCorps
Shelves: favorites
Actually, I'm listening to this via audiobook. I wanted to hear the people's voices tell their own stories.
***

I finally sat down and listened to the entire CD. I am in awe of these stories, of the people who lived them, and who were brave enough to tell them on tape and submit them to the Library of Congress.

The story that affected me most was from a Brooklyn man talking about his fiance who died in the World Trade Center towers on September 11th. You can hear the love in his voice for her and t
...more
Elizabeth
This book earned 5 stars in my mind for reasons other than the typical ones for which I give a high rating. (I have recently repented of giving too many 5 stars in the past and am now experimenting with being more discrimating in my ratings). Usually a 5 star book for me includes masterful use of the English language (most anything by Nabokov) or incredible insight into human nature and the human condition (Tolstoy or George Eliot) or a wonderful mix of wit, style, brilliant storytelling and inc ...more
Valerie
Sep 18, 2008 Valerie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Barbara
Listening Is an Act of Love is a book of short stories that are filled with slices of everyday life, from normal, everyday people, just like you and me. The only difference between us is that they visited a StoryCorps booth (in New York city or a mobile recording booth) and committed their story to audio CDs. The CDs are then archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Excerpts from their stories (which are in interview format) are played on NPR's Morning Edition. This b ...more
David
The StoryCorps Project is dedicated to collecting and preserving the stories of ordinary Americans for future generations. People participate by being interviewed at the Storycorps booth in New York City or at one of the mobile recording booths traveling the country - they can choose to be interviewed by a relative or friend, or by a Storycorps facilitator. Selected stories are read on NPR every Friday morning and all are stored in the Library of Congress (subject to the participant's signing a ...more
Jim
This is a very charming companion to the radio series run on NPR that allows two people to interview one another and share their own personal stories (there's a booth in Grand Central Station and many others around the country -- go sign up!).

You can read the individual stories very quickly. This is absolutely a book that can be picked up and put down all the time. I can't say it's quite the same as hearing the on-air segments -- where the power of the human voice can move you to tears. The real
...more
Logophile
Wow,
unless you have a heart of solid stone do not attempt to read this in public. The stories people shared with their loved ones and the rest of us are so sweet, so tragic, so simple, so profound...
This is an amazingly uplifting look at the heart of humanity and it is well worth reading.
Kate Savage
When they opened up the first StoryCorps booth they flew in a 91-year-old Studs Terkel to cut the ribbon: "We're in Grand Central Station. We know there was an architect, but who hung the iron? Who were the brick masons? Who swept the floors? These are the noncelebrated people of our country. In this booth the noncelebrated will speak their lives [. . .] And suddenly they will realize that they are the ones who have built this country!"

And see I BELIEVE in that vision. Which is what made my imme
...more
Katie Brown
I have not been a StoryCorps listener, but after reading this book, I'm planning to become one!

My book club selected this book, but there actually wasn't much to discuss, unlike other books we've read. I'd say it's a great book to read, not a great book for book club.

I had several favorite stories, but the interviews in the last portion of the book ("Fire and Water") were the most moving and memorable. Four of them were very touching: a story from a survivor who made it out of one of the WTC To
...more
Laura
I hadn't heard of StoryCorps' mission before, but I do love to watch BTU TV's series called TheTurning Point and The Story Trek, which are similar ideas. The book is a compilation of interviews done by two people who know each other. One person asks the questions and then listens to their friend's responses. The idea is that the details of the lives of ordinary human beings--any random human being--are more compelling than the best Hollywood movie or TV show. StoryCorps gives a copy of the inter ...more
Justin Jaeger
Feb 10, 2009 Justin Jaeger rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NPR Addicts and people who watch news or reality programming for the stories
I'm not so sure that everyone will enjoy this book as much as I did, but it is an inspiring look in the lives of everyday Americans and their history, memories, and most importantly their stories.

By design it is fragmented into anecdotal excerpts that are transcribed from the best bites of NPR's Storycorps. Specifically, the author compiled those stories that would work well on paper. While some of the stories focus on major events in an individual's life, there are a number of sections of the
...more
Maggie Campbell
"...if we take the time to listen, we'll find wisdom, wonder, and poetry in the lives and stories of the people all around us. That we all want to know our lives have mattered and we won't ever be forgotten. That listening is an act of love."

"One of the things that has accompanied me, followed me, surrounded me, wrapped me, is that feeling of gratitude for whatever happens. The event was like beig picked up by the scruff of the neck and shaken. And God says, "This is your only life! Just be grat
...more
megan
(Thanks, Kate!)
A selection of narratives from the StoryCorps Project that were compartmentalized into chapters based on what the person was talking about. This book does seem to make truth of the idea that every ordinary and even extraordinary person has something worthwhile to say. My favorite chapter was "History & Struggle", particularly the story within the chapter about the young woman and her "odiferous" year in North Dakota. Of course, the stories in the chapter "Fire & Ice" surro
...more
Kerry
Mar 26, 2008 Kerry rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
First of all, let me say that StoryCorps could very well be one of my most favorite things about NPR.

It feels like a gift to read these intimate moments in peoples' lives.

Who would think that opening up to another person and recording it for prosperity could be such a captivating thing. Maybe it just goes to show in this hectic world how seldom we really do listen to one another or share stories about what is important to us.

Most of all this book makes me happy that personal accounts of all t
...more
Lisa
I thought this was a "self help" book about listening better. I was surprised that it was more like an NPR story where people give different life short snippets of their life stories. It was good but far to short. The stories were wonderful to hear but I wanted more.
nicole
I've only discovered public radio in the past few years, as I began making the bi-monthly drive to-and-from South Jersey. As with the other great things in life -- becoming an avid library user, learning to operate a motor vehicle -- I'm pretty late to the game.

I love the idea of the Storycorp, but I'm not sure what I was looking for when I picked up this book. It has a wide range of stories from all different strokes of life, including a section on 9/11 and Katrina that reduced me to tears on
...more
Kimberly
I am a huge fan of StoryCorps on NPR! I'm making my way through the three collections. I gave this book four stars because while there are many incredibly powerful stories that touched me deeply, there were just as many with which I just couldn't connect, and it takes away from the experience a little bit when you're not drawn into the story. The Journey and the Fire & Water sections are tearjerkers, and my favorite sections. The Work section was pretty dynamic too. Be sure to check out the ...more
Teresa
NPR StoryCorps collected the stories of everyday Americans from across the country recording memories from every walk of life. The project is remarkable and truly supports the phrase that "everyone has a story to tell." I loved this book and the title ~ "Listening is an Act of Love." American's hectic lifestyle and constant distractions rarely allow the time to really sit and listen to one another. People are basically good. We have universal experiences and unique experiences. This book is a be ...more
Margaret
I found these stories absolutely fascinating. Wow, it's a little astounding how touching and moving the stories of ordinary people are. We are really all in this together and so much more alike than we think. And not only a wonderful book but a fantastic program of listening and recording oral histories. I am bookmarking the website. I feel very grateful for finding this book and will find a way to good way to pass it on for others to enjoy.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Listening is what I did in my job at the federal government. I loved that job. I loved listening to the stories of people. People are good, I discovered, much better than you’d think from the media.

This was a book of everyday stories, the stories of people’s lives. It was taken from the project created after 9/11 of traveling around the country and asking people to tell their stories.
I can’t wait for book two.
Phil Overeem
Like my wife wrote after she read it, I'd give it more stars than five if possible. I feel bad for being, oh, NINE years late to the StoryCorps table, but better late than never; this book has been the perfect antidote to much of the sadness, rancor, and lunacy swirling in the American air. And it's given me a TON of ideas that seem easy to get off the ground. I'd like to thank Nicole for pushing me to read it.
Rob
Snoooooooze. There are two or three wonderful stories ... but honestly, this book is a huge snoozer. Boring boring boring. A HUGE disappointment, because the Story Corps project is so fantastic. Whoever edited this book should be slapped ... virtually all of the selected stories are about "My family grew up poor in the midwest, and I am happy today." Snooze city.
Joyce Mandeville

I've always loved StoryCorps, but somehow it didn't occur to me that any of the interviews had been put into a book until I heard an interview with Dave Isay on NPR.

It is so easy to despair about the state of the world, but this book is a wonderful reminder of how extraordinary people really are. From the Auschwitz survivor who told his children he had been in the 'other Auschwitz', which he described as 'not so bad' and filled with boyish hijinks to the woman caring for her beloved brother who
...more
Pamela
What a joy to read this book - thank you Andrea for the thoughtful Christmas gift! It is a special experience to be able to have a glimpse into others' life story. This book evolved out of the StoryCorps mission of recording everyday Americans' stories, intimately, from one to another.
Frank Inserra
This is basically a sales pitch from a company that makes good quality audio recordings of personal biographies, which it then copyrights. The Copyright Office archive copy serves as a geneological record for later generations. Some of the sample personal stories are interesting. For example, there is a woman recording certain memories as she enters advanced Alzheimers. Other people record their experiences with historic events (Pearl Harbor, Katrina). Others record information from newly discov ...more
Barbara
StoryCorps is one of my favorite things; you can hear a story each Friday on NPR's Morning Edition. This book has stories that I've heard before and some that I hadn't. So many of them take my breath away--extraordinary stories from ordinary people.
Kathy Sebesta
Storycorps is an organization that runs recording booths, both fixed and mobile, where people come and tell stories. Any stories. Stories about their lives, stories about their experiences large and small, stories about their hopes and loves: this book contains snippets from a number of them. All are worth reading, whether they're talking about escaping Hurricane Katrina or watching mom and dad work so hard to keep the family together. Copies of the recordings are given to the people who made th ...more
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