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The Kindness of Strangers

by Don George (Editor)

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1843118,002 (3.58)7
Lonely Planet's latest collection explores the unexpected acts of kindness that can occur on the road: those unforgettable human connections that transform our travels. The stories depict a rich assortment of misadventures and predicaments with humour, poignancy and exhilaration, ultimately illustrating that, regardless of background and beliefs, people care for one another. The Kindness of Strangers includes a preface by the Dalai Lama and original work by Tim Cahill, Pico Iyer, Jan Morris and Dave Eggers.… (more)

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When we miss our train or bus, lose our wallets, fall ill or get lost, a kind stranger can save not only the day, but the entire journey. This collection explores the unexpected acts of kindness that can occur on the road, those unforgettable connections that transfigure and transform our travels.

Although I haven't finished every one of these essays, I've read the vast majority of them. I give the collection four stars on the whole, because a few of the tales are mediocre at best and a few are truly beautiful and outstanding. I like the fact that some are written by brand-new authors while others are by "famous" ones (and, as you might guess, some by the budding authors are better than those by the seasoned!) There is a fairly good variety of locales covered, though it's a bit light on t ...more

Did not like: At first you think "Ah, there are good people in the world" but then you realize that many of the stories are nice people saving the author of the story from threatening situations many of which are brought about by *bad* people. So its kind of a wash for humanity.

I really love short stories, and I have read short story anthologies in the past, but I struggled a little with this one because the stories were so short. Any time I start a story, it takes a while to wrap my mind around the setting, the characters and the voice. With this book, by the time I settled into the story, it ended, and I was sometimes loath to start the next one because of the work it would take to mentally get into the new setting, character and voice.

Shelves: non-fiction, travel, kindle-unlimited, travelogues, anthologies, backlistreader, ebookreadingchallenge
This was the perfect read for the world in 2017. A gentle reminder that behind every "these people" and "those people" are good hearted individuals. The intro by the Dalai Lama just sets it perfectly. The collection is dated, with many written before 9/11 so the Middle East stories have a different flavor to them. I've read some in other collections, or in the writers' own volumes, but overall a quick and enjoyable read. Heavy on Africa and the Middle East but I think that was reflective of the ...more
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May 08, 2017 Karol rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed-library, read-in-2017
Some of the stories were great . . . but many were about travel in troubled areas of the world or just troubled neighborhoods and I wondered why the traveler was so set on stupidly rushing headlong into danger.

It's always hard to rate a volume of short stories. There were some real gems in this collection. Others were maddening in some way or another. Too many ended without endings, leaving you hanging. That's my number 1 pet peeve with contemporary writing. I'm perhaps too old school, and want ...more
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Brendan Monroe
Jul 29, 2017 Brendan Monroe rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, shorts, travel
What a disappointingly disjointed collection of stories. "Kindness" apparently does not make for a very good writing prompt.

Most of these stories should have never seen the light of day. Some I downright hated. I'm thinking particularly of the truly horrible "Andean High", though "Egg Child" and numerous others made me throw up in my mouth a little as well.

There were two, I repeat, TWO stories that were very good and those are the last two stories in the collection - "Might be your lucky day" a ...more
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Feb 01, 2012 Catherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I enjoyed reading The Kindness of Strangers slowly, savoring each story on its own. The stories take place all over the world - Russia, Burma, Hawaii, Morocco, Scotland, Argentina, Ascension Island, Lebanon... I loved getting glimpses into places far from home. And I loved that the focus of these stories is on the people more than the places, and the humanity that links us all. This isn’t just a 'feel good' book. Many of these stories feature kindness coupled with fearful or potentially tragic c ...more
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Jan 10, 2011 Bob rated it liked it
Shelves: social
A collection of short reminiscences, many of them specially commissioned for the volume, that highlight unexpected encounters in remote and exotic locations. There are lots of "a perfect stranger went out of his way to help me..." stories, but most are much subtler and more faceted and introduce whole new ways of looking at unfamiliar places and new reasons travel is thought to make us better people. The pieces are exciting, moving, and thoughtful and most short enough to enjoy over a work break ...more
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Heather Sinclair
Mar 02, 2014 Heather Sinclair rated it liked it
Shelves: traveling-around
The Kindness of Strangers is a collection of true stories about traveling. Having been to some of the countries in the book, I was interested to find out what kind of experience the authors had, and what sort of kindness they experienced. The stories made me smile, made me laugh, and made me cry. Most were funny and heartwarming, but I wasn’t envious of the author in every story--a refreshing departure from what I expected.

The book starts out with light humour: mistaken identity, buying the wro ...more
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Deborah Ideiosepius
Jun 17, 2014 Deborah Ideiosepius rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel, 2014-reading-challenge
The Kindness of Strangers is a great idea for a book: A variety of Authors, travellers and traveller-authors all give us a series of snapshots from travel experiences, all based around the kindnesses of strangers. A Lonely planet publication, with a preface by the Dalai Lama and a few stories by authors I am very fond of, such as Simon Winchester, I was intrigued enough to buy this book with no prior knowledge of it and I am glad I did.

It is hard to review a book of short stories by different au ...more
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Nov 29, 2011 Stacey rated it liked it · review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I was really looking forward to reading this book, mostly because I have been the beneficiary of the kindness of strangers while traveling over and over again in many situations. Some of the stories were stronger than others and I think (though I could be wrong because I had a many-month pause while reading this book) that the second half were generally more interesting to me. (I'd probably give it a 3.5 if I could.)

I really liked Sarah Levin's "Egg Child" about traveling by bus/taxi in Kenya be ...more
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Ken Mannion
May 09, 2013 Ken Mannion marked it as to-read
Shelves: travel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Kate Caruso
May 24, 2014 Kate Caruso rated it really liked it
I've just begun this book but was completely drawn in by the forward by the Dalai Lama. And I thought it was quite the coup of editing by Dan George to begin with the story by Jan Morris, wherein Jan injects a tiny bit of cynicism, and then circles back to the warm and squishy and immediately lovable concept of the power of human kindness. A few essays further and a little weakness emerges only to be turned around again by the transcendent but simple story by Alice Waters. I'm seeing 4+ stars co ...more
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Jean Carlton
Apr 12, 2016 Jean Carlton rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story-collection
I really enjoyed this book. It's easy in today's world with daily news focusing on the negative, to become jaded about humanity in general. These varied stories were fun to read and reminded me of times in my own life that simple kindness, often from strangers, touched my heart and gave me hope. The theme of kindness while traveling provided me, not a big traveler, with an almost virtual travel experience. I especially liked "Brief Encounter", Everything Come Round" and "Losing it in London."
Now ...more
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Apr 14, 2015 Andrea is currently reading it · review of another edition
This is a remarkable book, with an inspiring forward by the Dalai Lama. In the introduction, the author writes, "I have learned two things: the first is that when you travel, at some point you will find yourself in a dire predicament-out of money, out of food, unable to find a hotel room, lost in a big city or on a remote trail, stranded in the middle of nowhere. The second is that someone will miraculously emerge to take care of you- to lend you money, feed you, put you up for the night, lead y ...more
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Feb 20, 2013 Xanthi rated it liked it · review of another edition
I was surprised as to how much I enjoyed this book. I say 'surprised' because anthologies tend to be patchy. It is natural when you put together stories (fiction or non) written by various different people, some will be great and others not so great. Yes, there were a few here that I was rather indifferent towards, but there were enough really interesting stories to make this collection worthwhile reading. Some of the stories even had me riveted. There was a fair bit of danger and tension involv ...more
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Stacey Neve
Apr 26, 2014 Stacey Neve rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-writing
As you would generally expect from a collection such as this one, I loved some of the stories and really didn't care for others. Not all of them are as lighthearted as you would expect given the theme. Some are quite dark and in a few instances the act of kindness doesn't happen until the writer has done something stupid/reckless enough to put themselves in a situation of really needing it. There were at least a couple that I didn't feel really fit the theme well at all.

Overall, a decent read. I ...more
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Dec 18, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
This is the loveliest kind of travel book, a series of stories about the unexpected kindness of people met during foreign travel. As soon as I saw that the Dalai Lama had writen the introduction, I knew this would be a special, inspirational and uplifting collection of essays.
Reading this reminded me of all the serendipidy and joy to be found in visiting new and different places and turning strangers into freinds. The biblical admonition "Go and do thou likewise" is surely the final message of t ...more
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Feb 01, 2013 Alex rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, 2013
What a fantastic collection on the beauty of chance while traveling. Some of the stories I had to skip, because I'm not interested in war stories or tales of people visiting war relics. Some of these stories scared me and made me doubt my sanity in traveling Southeast Asia, but some of them put a smile on my face and provided a very welcome respite from the stresses of an intensive CELTA course! I wish the story about the couple traveling from Mexico to San Francisco had not been so close to the ...more
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Feb 05, 2012 Nicole rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Wonderful collection of traveller's tales with the common theme of being the receipent of some form of "kindness of strangers". The authors range from famous writers who recount stories from journerys, alongside newbies with equally moving tales. Each chapter can be read as a stand alone and at times its hard to discern the seasoned from the novice authors. Recommended for anyone looking to restore their faith in their fellow man, regardless of nationality. The introduction is beautifully writte ...more
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Jun 10, 2010 Stephanie rated it liked it · review of another edition
The short story "Special Delivery" by Lindsy Van Gelder is probably my favorite only because it takes place in the Venneto region of Italy. I am familiar with the locations mentioned like Bassano del Grappa as well as the friendliness of the people in that region. After reading, I long to return. Other stories sparked the wanderlust. I only hope to avoid needing the kindess of strangers for my survival.
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Amanda Cott
Jan 09, 2014 Amanda Cott rated it it was amazing
I don't normally like short stories, but this collection is quite possibly perfect. Every story was beautiful and poignant and moving and restorative all at the same time. Rather than devouring it, I found myself wanting to savor each story - to read just one at a time and marinate on it before moving on. And, fortunately, unlike much travel writing, it didn’t result in intense wanderlust. This is, perhaps, an overly effusive review, but it will not disappoint.
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Jan 04, 2013 Penny rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Loved reading these stories-it's like sitting around with your traveling friends hearing amazing tales that will sometimes make you uncomfortable and then smile for the angels that happen by to help or visit a life somewhere in our vast world. The stories make you want to pack your bags and get on the road. So much to see. So many people to meet.
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Mar 08, 2008 Ashley rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-related
Some of the stories are better than others, which is why I can't give it more stars than I did. It is a quick, light read for the most part. I wasn't always captivated, but decently enjoyed the stories. Is that vague enough? Sorry, I definitely will not be a professional book reviewer in the future...one profession I can rule out!
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Jul 19, 2015 Awakeatone rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Jun 12, 2012 Rosemary rated it really liked it
Travel stories with a twist. Transported as we are to other parts of the world, it is the human interactions which remain with us and remind us to be kind, to think about when we have received unexpected help from strangers ourselves.
A great selection of stories, all well written. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Apr 28, 2009 Sandy rated it really liked it
Shelves: travelogue, short-stories
Wonderful pieces on the sweet funny things you run into when you travel. Unexpected kindnesses that all of us encounter no matter how brief the moment or unusual the circumstances. Brought up great memories of my own travels through Europe, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan.... fun book!
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Allison Outlund
Feb 21, 2012 Allison Outlund rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, 2012, travel
At a time when there is so much discussion about all of the negative qualities of humanity, it is nice to find a book that celebrates kindness and reminds us it is still out there no matter how far we stray from home.
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Mar 08, 2009 Lily rated it really liked it
A collection of story stories written by different travel writers. A wonderful gift for anyone who loves the adventures that travel brings. Everyone can relate to some obscure encounter that would never happen at home. Thanks Tina & Sara for this book!
  Alhickey1 | Oct 23, 2017 |
This was a really quick read. I liked the stories ( )
  lnlamb | Feb 21, 2007 |
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Lonely Planet's latest collection explores the unexpected acts of kindness that can occur on the road: those unforgettable human connections that transform our travels. The stories depict a rich assortment of misadventures and predicaments with humour, poignancy and exhilaration, ultimately illustrating that, regardless of background and beliefs, people care for one another. The Kindness of Strangers includes a preface by the Dalai Lama and original work by Tim Cahill, Pico Iyer, Jan Morris and Dave Eggers.

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