I read and completely loved Humans of New York a few months back and, since I still think about it daily, I was beyond excited to get the continuation. And damn, I needed this more than I care to admit.
This book differs a bit from the first book because it includes in-depth storytelling that will puncture your heart (for better or worse).
As usual, here are a few of my favorite humans of New York:
“I’m trying to write a book based on myself, but I keep changing.”
“When you yell at someone, who hears it more: you or them?
You’re only hurting yourself by getting angry. I want to live to be
one hundred. I haven’t raised my voice in forty years.”
This one really stayed with me. I even wrote it down on paper so as to not forget.
“She does her thing, I do my thing. We interact in between.
We’ve been married thirty years, and that’s how we like it.”
“I worry that one day she’ll get separated from me, and nobody will understand that she’s deaf.”“I hated God for a long time.”“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“Stay single.”“I’m learning to deal with negative feelings, like envy. I’m envious of all
the normal things. Women with more successful careers, things like that.
I’m finding that if you try to resist your envy, it sticks around. But if you
accept it as natural and don’t judge yourself, it will pass, like a cloud.”
Damn, how did Brandon know I really needed to read this…?“What’s your favorite thing about her?”
“She still gets giddy when she sees a firefly.”
AHHH, it was such a tremendous surprise to see Bryan Cranston with his wife Robin Dearden.“My husband was an editor at The New York Times, so he’d work really late nights, and I’d sometimes get lonely. So I started letting this tomcat into our house every day. But my husband was horribly allergic to cats, so right before he’d get home, I’d let the cat back out again. But one night it was raining so hard that I refused to let the cat out, and my husband stayed up all night sneezing. And that’s how I got a puppy!”“He wants to go home.”“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”“Who has influenced you the most in your life?”
“My mother. She had me when she was eighteen years old, and my father left
when I was one year old, so I never really knew him. Like a lot of single moms,
she had to struggle to work, and eventually she also struggled to go to school.
And she’s really the person who instilled in me a sense of confidence and a sense
that I could do anything. She eventually went on to get her PhD. It took her ten
years, but she did it, and I watched her grind through it. And as I got older, like
everyone else, I realized that my mother wasn’t all that different than me. She
had her own doubts, and fears, and she wasn’t always sure of the right way of”
So many great people featured in here!!Damn, this one hit right home.
“My kids are teenagers now, and they’re going off on their own. And you understand it, but it’s hard for it not to hurt. Like the day you realize you’re not allowed in your daughter’s room anymore. Or when your son doesn’t want you to show him how to do something. The relationship tends to ebb and flow between ‘help me’ and ‘leave me alone.’ But lately, it’s been much more ‘leave me alone.'”
All I’m missing now is for Aaron Paul to be photographed and quoted…
“He’s one day old. I still can’t believe that he’s real and that he came out of me.”
YES! I was waiting so patiently for this one to show up.“What’s your favorite thing about your brother?”
“Well… well… well the WORST thing is when we argue!”“I asked her what she felt most guilty about, and she said: “I can’t say it, because
it will make me cry. And I don’t like people to see me cry.” I told her that was
fine and changed the subject, but after a few minutes she typed it out on her
phone and handed it to me:
“When I was eleven years old, I got in a fight with my twin brother and told him
that he was going to die before me because he had a brain tumor.”
“Is he still alive?” I asked.
Damn… now I’m the one crying.“After I finish my shift at the bakery, I start my shift at Starbucks. I
work ninety-five hours per week at three different jobs. One of my sons
graduated from Yale, and I have two more children in college. And when
they finish, I want to go to college, too. I want to be a Big Boss. I’m a boss
at the bakery right now, but just a little boss. I want to be a Big Boss.”“I’m the original John Lennon! I was born eighteen months earlier.”“Should I do my dinosaur face?”
“Yes.”“Louis is different. He’s got two moms. He’s an old soul. We live in the projects,
and he doesn’t know who Michael Jordan is, or anything about rap music. He
dresses himself in the morning. He chooses a button-down and slacks, and sits
in the kitchen with his legs crossed and reads the newspaper. But he’s still got
the heart of a child. Yesterday he had five dollars to buy himself a Halloween
costume, and he saw a boy he knew while he was walking to the store, and he
chose to buy him a costume instead. I always tell him: ‘You’re different, Louis.
And that’s okay.’ When he wants to play, I walk him all the way down to
Central Park, because I don’t really want him to change.”
“His grandmother and I are raising him. I worry about putting him into the public school system. I was a teacher for many years. I’ve seen so much confidence destroyed by the standardized system. Every human is born with natural curiosity. I’ve never seen a child who wasn’t inspired. But once you force someone to do anything, the inspired person is killed. I dropped out of school myself in 7th grade. So I know. I taught a GED course for years, so I’ve seen the end results over and over. I’ve seen so many kids who have complexes and insecurities because they were forced to do something they weren’t ready to do, and then they were blamed when they weren’t able to do it. What we call ‘education’ today is not organic. You can’t take something as complex as the human mind, compartmentalize it, and regiment its development so strictly.”
“This is my neighbor. She only speaks Mandarin, so we’ve never had a conversation. But she’s brought me a handful of candy every day for 20 years.”
“We’ve run marathons together on all seven continents.”
“You ran a marathon in Antarctica?”
“Ran it? She won it!”“He was away for almost four years during the war. When he
wrote me letters, he was never allowed to tell me where he
was. So he’d draw cartoons to help me guess.”“I have a neck injury so I had to tone it down this year.”“I’m always sad.”
“Are there certain thoughts associated with the sadness?”
“No, the sadness is under the thoughts. It’s like when you’re on a camping trip,
and it’s really cold, and you put on extra socks and an extra sweater, but you still
can’t get warm, because the coldness is in your bones.”
“Do you hope to get away from it?”
“Not anymore. I just hope to come to peace with it.”
The specificity gave me chills. “I had really hippie, alternative parents. They pulled me out
of middle school because they didn’t think it was fulfilling
me creatively, and we drove across the country in an RV.”
“You can’t just not go to school, can you?”
“Actually, you kinda can.”“He had his first birthday yesterday, so he goes crazy every time he hears the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.”
“Let’s see it.”
As always, I’m left feeling both speechless and heart-broken for everyone featured in this collection.
I also loved how some stories connected even though they were told from completely different people with completely different circumstances.
5/5 stars (without a doubt).