Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Book Review: Humans of New York Stories by Brandon Stanton
Author: Brandon Stanton
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Source: Hard Copy
Content Alert: a pretty clean read, but the stories really run the spectrum
Remember back in the day before smartphones when people used to keep a stack of magazines in the bathroom for a little toilet reading? In my house we even had a book called The Bathroom Book, with bite-sized little tidbits, short enough for a potty break. It's kind of ironic that Brandon Stanton's The Humans of New York phenomenon started on Instagram (which has definitively won the bathroom reading battle, if there was one), because Humans of New York: Stories, would be the best back of the toilet book ever.
Stanton's book is his Instagram account in published form. My sense is that Stanton walks around New York and asks people if he can take their picture, then asks them a few questions, and picks a snippet from that short interview to post along with the picture. With 4.7 million followers, the account is insanely popular (and whoa, all the judgy jerks on the internet who used to hang out on message boards now comment on HONY), and I'm always impressed with the way Stanton manages to get something interesting and profound of the people he talks with. There seems to be a light attempt at some thematic arrangements in the book, but mostly, the pictures and stories speak for themselves. Even though I'd read most of the stories individually when they came out on Instagram, there was a power to reading them together in the book.