How to Know a Person (Book Review)

How to Know a Person (Book Review)

How to Know a Person, book review

This book is a deep dive into human connection, which you’ll agree is important.

It gives us strategies for really getting to know people, and learn how to express more effective compassion and empathy. It explains how to see others and be seen by them, and shows how you can stop diminishing others, by starting being what he calls “an illuminator.”

Written by David Brooks, a well known journalist for the New York Times and PBS, who was not at all a natural in dealing with people. This was a hard won skill he had to learn for his job. He’s since become passionate about this topic, because understanding each other and finding genuine respect for each other, can not only heal our families, but is what can heal our nation and world.

Many people feel isolated and unseen, and it’s a real problem. This blog often make me feel seen, but I have been in too many situations where I have felt invisible, and it’s not fun. Have you ever been somewhere where no one asks you a question?  Please don’t do this to others!

This book encourages you to set your ego, preoccupations, and assumptions aside for long enough to actually get to know someone else. It explains how to be an interested conversationalist, and how to really behold someone without wanting to fix them.

I listened to this on audio (read by the author) coming home from Maine, and got further in it than I would have because of a three hour standstill on the highway.

I really enjoyed this book and give it five stars, both for meaningful content well expressed, but also for how urgently these ideas need to be brought to bear in all of our lives.

The audio was good, and actually got me through the content that I may not have read otherwise, but I found myself wishing I could take notes of some great quotes, and especially some specific action items I felt would be beneficial to focus on. I liked what was said here enough that there were bits worthy of returning to and rereading for further practice and study.

You too can benefit from reading How to Know A Person.



I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Mary Beth Williams 1 month ago

    Thank you Polly for this review of this book. I have to check, but I think maybe I actually have it but have not read it yet. It’s one. I definitely want to read sooner than later.! Connecting with others is why we are here and it makes me so happy! Thank you for all you do and all of your supportive and creative endeavors!

  2. Brian G 4 weeks ago

    I’ll have to read this. Cover reminds me of my 60’s childhood gestalt art principles (see the faces or vase?) where one was taught to take the time to look beyond the surface with “others”. How we see “them” can be a reflection of what we harbor within ourself. And if we try to fix them, instead of taking the time to simply know them, one tends to fixate on surface level details, perpetuating the outward appearance.

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