I RECOMMEND reading the last chapter of The Best Strangers in the World first. In it, Ari Shapiro, a host on NPR’s All Things Considered since 2015, describes three of his favorite interviews, revealing what he tries to accomplish as a reporter, which is to tell stories of people who “move from trauma to transcendence.” Knowing that optimism in the face of obstacles is what motivates Shapiro explains the buoyant tone of this, his first book.
Shapiro has many reasons to be cheerful. He is tall and good-looking and has a devoted husband, a great job, famous friends, and a singing voice that landed him a job with the band Pink Martini. For those of us less blessed, all of this can be a bit overwhelming. What makes this book worth reading is the inside view it provides on reporting the news for NPR and on being a gay man in this world, one who came of age in the 1990s.
Daniel Burr, who lives in Covington, Kentucky, is a frequent contributor to this magazine.