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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  ·  Rating Details ·  3,338 Ratings  ·  716 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 goo ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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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
Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
Short piece with questions and answers from a variety of individuals. It was interesting to hear what people had to say in their own words but these are really short pieces and I have to admit that I wanted a bit more.
Malbadeen
Jan 02, 2012 Malbadeen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Feb 25, 2008 Mollypae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
People aren't all that bad.
Kat
Dec 29, 2007 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eyeopening, delights
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
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
Valerie
Jan 31, 2008 Valerie rated it liked it  ·  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
Elizabeth
Jan 18, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura
Feb 24, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Cheri
Dec 17, 2007 Cheri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheri by: Jeff Giles
These stories will bring out every emotion in you. They may remind you of your parents or your grandparents, or others, friends, or you may learn things about different places, different life views. Some are heartbreaking. All are worth reading. They all will tug at your heartstrings.

“In some houses maybe there’s music playing in the background. I don’t remember any music ever playing in the background because the music of our lives was the voices.”
“They were able to turn the ordinary into som
...more
Jim
Jan 15, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 (Heather)
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.
Sayantani Dasgupta
I appreciate the idea behind the project. Everyone does have an important story to tell. Some of the stories included here were powerful otherwise bordered on the sweet and sentimental.
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
Teresa
May 13, 2015 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Maggie Campbell
Nov 25, 2007 Maggie Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...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
Laura
May 20, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Justin Jaeger
Nov 19, 2008 Justin Jaeger rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jim B
Jun 28, 2015 Jim B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
I love StoryCorps. This book has some very good stories from the series, and in a variety that shows the kinds of stories that have developed. At the end of the book, Dave Isay adds information on doing interviews that every family should make part of their family reunions!

I'm not a short story reader. Dave Isay says at the end of the book that the StoryCorps stories included in this book vary from the original format because instead of being listeners, we become readers. The stories still have
...more
Kerry
Mar 26, 2008 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  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
megan
Dec 27, 2007 megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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
nicole
Feb 26, 2012 nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
Nov 23, 2012 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
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.
Phil Overeem
Dec 09, 2012 Phil Overeem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Rob
Jan 13, 2008 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Elly
I loved reading this book. It was such a personal, engaging look into the stories and lives of what we'd consider "typical" Americans. The fact that you can relate to or have feelings toward a person who you have only "known" for two pages or so is the mark of a great collection of stories.
Pamela
Oct 22, 2008 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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