Sophie Calle | Bay Pr, 1988 | Book
I stumbled over this book in a bookstore in my late teens and have never put down. Calle overhears a random man at a party saying he’s going to Venice and she decides to go and try to track him down.
Sophie Calle, Paul Auster | Actes Sud, 1998 | Book
Calle's more recent joint project with Paul Auster finds her out on the street obeying a set of instructions he’s issued to her to direct several odd days of interacting with strangers.
Jason Polan | Chronicle Books, 2015 | Book
Jason Polan began a project called "Every Person in New York" almost a decade ago as a blog and has just published the first of a many-volume series of his drawings. The title is the promise. He has set out to make a quick sketch of every person in New York. It’s a lovely, strange, encyclopedic project.
Richard Rinaldi | Explore
Touching Strangers is a set of stunning photographs of strangers Rinaldi recruited to pose as intimates. You see the gestures of closeness and how the edges of those gestures break down into awkwardness, stiffness, unfamiliarity.
Jane Jacobs | Vintage, 1961 | Book
First published in 1961, this is a landmark book for understanding the social life of cities. Jacobs' particular agenda was to analyze and explain the ways that the built environment — from the width of sidewalks to zoning to the placement and dimensions of buildings — affect the ways that neighbors and strangers relate to each other in public. It's a great read, and will change the way you see city life.
Elijah Anderson | University of Chicago Press, 1992 | Book
Anderson's attentive, trenchant ethnographies of street sociability in Philadelphia and how it is shaped by the dynamics of race are essential reading. He documents the expectations, tensions, and meanings of public interactions among black Philadelphians and between whites and blacks. He has been observing and living public interactions in Philly for over thirty years, and from Streetwise to Canopy, you see his optimism about the potential for positive change in racial dynamics grow.
Claudia Rankine | Graywolf Press, 2014 | Book
This is a singular and astonishing book, poetic essays, essayistic poetry, theater and art. Rankine's writing wrenched my gut. The book's speaker evokes and endures the paralyzing, subtle and unsubtle experience of micro-aggression, the verbal, rhetorical and physical violence that is inescapable in the everyday lives of black men and women in America.
Jessica Valenti | Dey Street Books, 2016 | Book
A memoir of growing up female in a misogynist world, Valenti's book is not only compelling and painful, it's a blunt and realistic depiction of the everyday street harassment girls and women put up with. Her writing is so precise and evocative, you're right there with her in gross, terrible moments whose emotional effects leave lasting traces. Anyone who hasn’t experienced street harassment needs to read this.