While I have NPR as a preset button, I’m not a regular listener. I can’t list the popular hosts. Nor can I tell you how Ari Shapiro’s debut book ended up on my list of books to read. But I’m glad it did.

Even better is that I listened to The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening (HarperOne, 2023) because Shapiro read it. What a voice. But I’m guessing some of you already know his voice since he is one of the hosts of NPR’s All Things Considered.

This is more than another journalist’s memoir. It’s about the people and issues Shapiro has covered as a radio broadcaster. It’s about taking a unique path to his occupation. It’s about being gay. It’s about being a performer. It’s about life.

One of the things I really liked about the book is that is sounded so honest. Shapiro allows himself to be vulnerable. He admits insecurities. He admits mistakes.

It’s not everyone who can cover hard news and features.

With all journalists, the best skill is to be able to listen, and then let the story evolve no matter what the original idea was. Shapiro even talks about these concepts.

It’s hard to imagine someone who would not thoroughly enjoy this book. Well, those who thought the massacre at the Pulse nightclub was OK, they probably aren’t going to want to read this book. Shapiro’s account of this tragedy is gripping.

He is definitely a great storyteller, and his story was worth telling.

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