Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

“An absolutely fascinating look at why it’s so difficult to know the ‘other’” – Julie, Administration

Why are we so bad at making sense of the words and actions of people we don’t know? Malcolm Gladwell has a well-researched, engrossing answer that includes scientific studies and historical events that illustrate the tools and strategies we use to understand strangers – and why they don’t work. More like a well-produced podcast than a traditional audiobook, it includes a theme song, interviews with scientists and researchers, and recordings of events.

Look! What Do You See? An Art Puzzle Book of American & Chinese Songs by Xu Bing

“I happened upon this book, thought “well, this looks weird”, and set it aside to look at later. It turns out that the entire thing is a brain game, and I love puzzles! It’s clever and unique and totally new to me, and the code even follows a format similar to actual Chinese writing.” – DGPL Staff

At first glance, this book is filled with fancy Chinese calligraphy strangely accompanied by artistic images of traditionally American themes (baseball games, apple trees, and cowboys?). But look closer, and it turns out it’s all written in code, and in English!

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters by Kate Murphy

“It was a fascinating read, but also extremely practical and uplifting, even for those of us who are terrible listeners!” – Joy, Adult & Teen Services

Kate Murphy has done an excellent job explaining how the lack of good listeners in our society is taking a real toll on our ability to form communities of understanding one another. This book had some very practical advice on how to be a better listener and how to form bonds with others by active listening to understand the other rather than to be understood. Example: curiosity. How often do we ask questions because we’re curious about the other person–truly curious? Or ask someone to stop and clarify in a business meeting or department meeting because you didn’t fully understand what they said? Murphy cites several incredible contemporary listeners, crediting their outstanding ability to hear not just what the other person is saying, but also what they are not saying, as indelible to their career success. A must-read!

I Thought My Father Was God by Paul Auster

“I am obsessed with people’s stories and backgrounds and the inner workings of America, especially from years ago.” – Brian, Public Relations

I Thought My Father Was God gathers 180 personal, true-life accounts in a single, powerful volume. They come from people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. Half of the contributors are men; half are women. They live in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, and they come from 42 different states. Most of the stories are short, vivid bits of narrative, combining the ordinary and the extraordinary, and most describe a single incident in the writer’s life.