Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know” as Want to Read:
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,426 ratings  ·  247 reviews
In July 2015, a young black woman named Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation in rural Texas. Minutes later she was arrested and jailed. Three days later, she committed suicide in her cell. What went wrong? Talking to Strangers is all about what happens when we encounter people we don't know, why it often goes awry, and what it says about us.

How do we
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Talking to Strangers, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Cindy Schneider Malcolm Gladwell has a gift for taking the seemingly mundane, or invisible, and showing us the major influence it has in our lives.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,426 ratings  ·  247 reviews

More filters
Sort order
As I sat at the airport, head deep in a book, I suddenly heard, "Hi!" What? To my left stood a handsome man. "I just thought I should say hi since I see you're reading Talking to Strangers."

I too thought Malcolm Gladwell's new book was going to teach me how to literally talk with people I don't know, but as always he turns all my assumptions on their head with this book. If that's what the book was about, that stranger and I might be on a date by now.

If I can convince you of one thing in this
Gretchen Rubin
I always feel lucky when I get to read a book before its official publication date. A fascinating, accessible examination of the miscommunications that can arise when we talk to strangers. We're going to interview Malcolm Gladwell for the Happier podcast, can't wait for that.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sociology, canadian
Never Trust a Blood Relative

Talking to Strangers is an elaboration of a simple (trivial?) idea: It’s very difficult to tell when people are lying. According to Timothy Levine, the academic psychologist on whom Gladwell relies for his basic argument, the presumption that people tell the truth is almost universal, a few Holy Fools (and, I suppose, Judge Judy) excepted. Levine calls this his Truth Default Theory. Gladwell applies it entertainingly, if rather repetitively, to cases of duplicity rang
Emily May
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
I was trying to work through my thoughts on this book when Goodreads did an interview with Malcolm Gladwell and this one thing he said just made everything clear for me:
“I've never been a writer who's looked to persuade his readers; I'm more interested in capturing their interest and curiosity.”

Because, truthfully, I don't know that Gladwell did fully convince me of his way of thinking with this book. I don't know that I actually agree that he can draw a link between the police officer “misund
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
9/2/2019--I'm knocking this down to two stars. Gladwell's really bad takes on things like race and sexual assault just don't deserve an okay rating.

Wow, does this book ever suffer from a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease!

I almost didn’t make it past the introduction. In my pre-publication copy, Gladwell writes, “The Sandra Bland case came in the middle of a strange interlude in American public life” and then goes on to discuss a series of cases of police violence against black people that ha
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-psychology
I'm glad that those nice people at Goodreads chose me randomly to receive an old-school paper copy of this book, free of charge. It will be a novel feeling to actually have read a controversial book before it hits the shelves and generates the predictably shallow hot takes in the few moments before the world's attention moves onto something else.

Perhaps I'm engaging in a display of unwarranted optimism to think that a mere book can have an effect on the way people think, but this is what Talking
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-2019
In Talking to Strangers, I believe all Malcolm really wants to tell us, is everything our parents use to tell us: 1. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers (or in magazines, or the internet.) 2. Trust only family, not strangers; but be careful everywhere. 3. Don’t believe anything anyone tells you until you check it out first. (This could’ve meant, ask Mom and/or Dad, go to the library, ask someone we know and is smart.)
Most people have their default setting at TRUST; we want to believe
Thanks so much for choosing me as winner in the giveaway !

I loved this book !! I always thought about the disparity of meeting someone who seemed 'so nice' and someone you wanted to develop a friendship or relationship with, only to have an opposite view shortly after. Did I misjudge ? Am I too picky, critical and judgmental ? Are they really a sociopath ?

This book explains a lot of that thru mismatching, which is basically how someone appears at a given time as opposed to who they really are. A
What I love about Gladwell's books is the thing that I think many people find frustrating: I don't agree with everything he says. But what brings me back is that he finds interesting threads and premises and manages to weave them together in such a way that it makes me think about my own beliefs a little different.

This book begins with the Sandra Bland case. Why did she die? Why did this situation even occur? It then goes into looking at a series of incidents of the CIA overlooking spies from C
David Wineberg
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Malcolm Gladwell’s latest foray into human folly is its seemingly innate trust in strangers. We assume strangers are transparent, and can take what they do and say at face value. Sometimes we are wrong, but assuming everyone is evil is far worse. Talking To Strangers focuses (mostly) on a number of very high profile criminal cases we are all likely to be familiar with. They include the Amanda Knox case, the Jerry Sandusky case, the Brock Turner case, the Sandra Bland case, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, ...more
Megan Bell
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was my first Malcolm Gladwell, and now I have to go read everything else! In Talking to Strangers, Gladwell investigates what goes wrong when we interact with people we don’t know, using dramatic scenarios ripped from the headlines, history, psychology, and criminology. Gladwell begins and ends with the tragic death of Sandra Bland, and it’s impossible to ignore how urgently we need better strategies of understanding strangers.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m always fascinated and provoked by Gladwell’s work—this book is no exception. But there are some big leaps here that make me itchy. Still processing.

Bottom line: We’re generally terrible at understanding the actions of strangers, and when things take a turn for the worse/unexpected, we blame the stranger.

Got it. Feel it. And I like how Gladwell sheds light on the Sandra Bland case. The section on Brock Turner? It troubled me.
In Gladwell's latest work, he explores our misconception and often mistakably inconsistence of innocence or guilt, happy or sad, trustworthy or criminal. Reflecting on historic situations, from Hitler to Sylvia Plath, Bernie Madoff to Amanda Knox, humankind has made slow efforts to uncover what someone else is really feeling or who they truly are. This book does not offer any advice for a quick fix but reminds us all how terribly difficult it is to really "see" the person sitting next to you. I ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a sample of this book that I obtained as an employee of Hachette book group. Longer review closer to pub date.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended, with a lot of inner conflict and trigger warnings

[Thank you to and Hachette Audio for my free copy of the audiobook for review]

I am a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan, and I jumped at the chance to listen to his newest release. Gladwell is an excellent reader of his own work, and he takes it up a notch here by translating his book into a full audio production with music, news clips, and voice reenactments. Fans of his podcast, Revisionist History, or other radio shows like This A
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
This is certainly a provocative book, enough so that despite my anger and frustration I finished reading it in the hope it would conclude with a complex and thoughtful analysis of why our differences and history result in so much misunderstanding when strangers interact with each other.

Sadly my expectations were not realized. The real life examples that he used were not truly examined in depth and the lack of complexity often left me frustrated. I may just be unable to feel any sympathy for a c
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When we meet people for the first time - a stranger - we are programmed to want a positive interaction with that person. We greet them courteously, as we have been taught; we look for body language cues and cues in what they say or how they say things that we are familiar with, that we can relate to. We want to be liked by this new person, and have a good exchange of whatever it may be - medical advice, shop assistants, the police, our children's friends, potential work colleagues, love interest ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, netgalley, kindle
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of Talking to Strangers.

I was stoked when I saw my request was approved.

I'm a Malcolm Gladwell fan and I love his writing.

In Talking to Strangers, Mr. Gladwell examines some of the most controversial scandals in American history, from the spy games our government dealt with in regards to Fidel Castro, to the horrific crimes perpetrated by pedophiles Sandusky and doctor pervert Nassar, to the tragedy of Sandra Bland, from the context that p
Morelia (Strandedinbooks)
I’m actually very unsure about my rating. Perhaps I stand with 3.5, but let’s stick to 3 for a bit because I’m stuck and have many many thoughts.

For starters, the first half of the audiobook was really good! I appreciated learning about new cases that I’d never even heard about and getting to explore the topic about how and why we suck at talking to or dealing with strangers, but then...

The entire coverage of the Brock Turner case in this one just didn’t sit right with me. I felt that the author
Sep 11, 2019 marked it as will-not-read  ·  review of another edition
I have decided to not read this book based on the statement from this review: "I don't know that I actually agree that he can draw a link between the police officer 'misunderstanding' Sandra Bland and Neville Chamberlain “misunderstanding” Hitler and make that work. And I don't know that I agree - actually, no, I'm pretty sure I don't - about the way he views the Stanford rape case as a 'misunderstanding.'" I don't need more hate crime or rape apology in my life.

The positive is, Gladwell always keeps me interested. He somehow finds the most interesting anecdotes and stories. Even the ones you have heard before---he has a way of making them seem like there is always more than meets the eye and that they are more interesting. I was never bored listening to this because even if you don't like one section, he's almost on to something else.

But then..

His thing is to take stories that on the surface are completely unrelated and tries to jam them together
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Talking to Strangers" by Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most important books of the year. In a time where mass communication, often leads to conflict, it is essential to understand why we often misinterpret another’s behaviour, their words and intentions leading us to judge their character and alter our own actions to respond unjustly.
Malcolm Gladwell is always effective in illustrating his point. In this book he vividly uses five infamous examples to do so: a case of espionage during the cold
John Munday
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I would like to thank my coworker for getting me this ARC (Thanks KC!). I have always loved Gladwell's books and podcasts, and this title is no exception. "Talking to Strangers" explores the difficulties that we face every day when talking to other people, through historical anecdotes, psychological studies and statistics, and research in sociology. It builds up a foundation with each chapter and then ends by bringing everything together when looking at one specific case. The book ...more
3.5/5 stars. More detailed review TK.

For now: Gladwell makes some logical leaps that I didn't find myself quite comfortable with, and also fails to explore the nuances of some of his key anecdotes. (Particularly where issues of gender bias and neurodiversity are concerned.) That said, he makes salient points about how poorly we perform when trying to evaluate the behavior of people we don't know, and provides a good deal of food for thought.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Malcolm Gladwell is a gifted writer who engages our minds and emotions in his works of non-fiction. In "Talking to Strangers,” he tells us true stories that, at first, seem to be unrelated. A police stop ends in tragedy; Neville Chamberlain and other political figures famously misconstrued Hitler's bellicose intentions; experienced judges grant bail to defendants who, they realize too late, should have remained in jail; the sociopath, Bernie Madoff, conducted a fraudulent investment scheme for y ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read
Malcolm Gladwell is an excellent writer; this, his most recent book, is engaging, factual without being boring and covers a topic I am very much interested in. The title, I believe, should be more accurately called “Reading Strangers” as it analyzes how to perceive strangers, more so than how to talk to them.

He uses examples, ripped from the headlines, of people misreading others that lead to disastrous and undesirable consequences. Analyzing Adolf Hitler’s ability to deceive PM Chamberlain, Ber
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gen-nonfiction
malcolm gladwell's new book, talking to strangers: what we should know about the people we don't know, is likely to be his most controversial yet, both in terms of his chosen subject matter and the examples he uses to illustrate his points. the inevitable contentiousness won't arise because gladwell has written anything objectionable, but instead on account of him pointing out inherent flaws and biases in our observational thinking and perception (which undoubtedly will make people uncomfortable ...more
Joshie Nicole (bookish.bibliophagist)
Thank you to Little Brown for sending me an advance reader’s copy of Talking to Strangers, available September 2019.

Malcolm Gladwell has done it again. In his meticulously researched new novel, Gladwell unpacks the challenges and misconceptions that go hand in hand with the unavoidable act of talking to strangers: something we must do every day. He uses both contemporary and historic examples and case studies to craft his arguments and expose the flaws in the way we as a society fail to truly u
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This reminds me why I minored in Psychology. Studying people is just so fascinating! I've read Outliers, and was equally as interested in that. Here Gladwell explains a lot of interesting social experiments done in the journey to better understand why our interactions with strangers are the way they are. He also sorts through some controversial real-life scenarios in a better way than the media feeds them to you in order to bring to life the implications of our perceptions.

The thing I keep comin
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
So infuriating. A quarter of the way into this book, I would have given it four or even five stars. The promise of a deeper investigation into the Sandra Bland case was intriguing; the research about bias toward truth and just how bad people are at judging strangers' emotions and responses made for interesting reading. It offered an engaging and challenging array of studies and stories.

Then it all starts going horribly wrong. Gladwell's stated goals at the beginning of the book sound noble, but
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers—The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath. He is also the co-founder of Pushkin Industries, an audio content company that produces the podcasts Revisionist History, which reconsiders things both overlooked and misunderstood, and Broken Record, where he, Rick Rubin, and Bruce Headlam interview musici ...more