Meredith's Reviews > All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps

All There Is by Dave Isay
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's review
Feb 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, nonfiction, romance, short-stories

Originally published on The Librarian Next Door:

Almost all of the interviews we collect touch on the great themes of human existence, and – as we’ve learned after recording thousands upon thousands of sessions – there can be no question that the greatest of these themes is love.

So begins a wonderful collection of original stories from the folks behind Storycorps. All There Is: Love Stories from Storycorps is a book of interviews compiled into one long narrative about the enduring power of love and the way love touches us all, in so many different ways. Edited by David Isay, these interviews were recorded as part of the Storycorps project and then collected for this book.

For those of you who may not know, Storycorps is a national nonprofit project with a deceptively simple premise: every story, every voice matters. Founded in 2003, Storycorps gives Americans of all ages, races, backgrounds and beliefs the chance to record their own story for future generations. Each participant gets to keep a copy of his or her story and another copy is archived in the Library of Congress, so that future Americans can look back and hear, in their own words and own voices, the stories of Americans just like them.

All There Is is a collection of some of the greatest Storycorps recordings about love. The book is divided into three sections: love found, love lost, and love found at last. Isay and the other Storycorps editors have done minimal editing; each selection retains the individual voices of the people telling it. I think there is a unique kind of power to telling your own story in your own words; these love stories feel so much more real because I’m reading them as they come from the individuals themselves. There’s no second or third-hand party to confuse things. Reading this book felt like chatting with a close friend again and again.

And, like all good books, All There Is is filled with original and honest stories that stir up a range of emotions. Sometimes I smiled, sometimes I got choked-up and teary-eyed and sometimes, I laughed through a few tears. There’s such an incredible and diverse range of stories that it’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite.

I did really appreciate the stories from the older generations, partly because they reminded me of my own grandparents’ love stories and partly because there was clearly so much wisdom in their experiences. There were also stories that were difficult to read, especially those within the “Love Lost” section (including a couple of heartbreaking stories revolving around September 11th), but those were also some of the most important stories as well.

There’s some sadness in All There Is, but there’s also a lot of hope and joy. I’d love to read more anthologies of Storycorps stories, because the whole point of the project is to preserve these tales for others to hear. A heartwarming and enjoyable collection, All There Is will make you believe in love – real, actual love told by the people who know best.

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