My favorite books to get you talking to strangers

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a youngster, my parents took me on 6-week journeys across the United States by car. We'd stop in a small town each night, and I would explore on foot and meet other kids at the swimming pool or ice cream shop. That slow mode of travel has become my default, and I've spent years exploring back roads, small towns, and bywaters by car, bicycle, and sailboat. I write about the strangers I've found and the "candy" I've gotten from them: strangers have lessons for all of us and are not as dangerous as we've been told.


I wrote...

Strangers Have the Best Candy

By Margaret Meps Schulte,

Book cover of Strangers Have the Best Candy

What is my book about?

Full-time adventurer Margaret Meps Schulte strikes up conversations with laughing, crying, boozing, and topless strangers across the USA and beyond. Their stories, and the resulting hijinks, are her candy, rewards for breaking the rules about talking to strangers. Schulte brings unlikely real people into the light, from Betty, the vivacious mayor of a small town in Newfoundland, to Boopsie, a skinny-dipping breast cancer survivor. With over 100 illustrations by the author, these humorous, heartwarming tales will inspire readers of all ages to talk to strangers and meet new people.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Walk Across America

Margaret Meps Schulte Why did I love this book?

Peter set out during the Vietnam War era to walk all the way across the United States with only a camera, a backpack, and a dog. His books, which I read as a teenager, brought fascinating strangers into my world and taught me how much those strangers can change our lives. Thanks to Peter's writing, I've always felt safe talking to strangers, and I seek them out to find out who they are and what their lives are like. 

By Peter Jenkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Walk Across America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey -- a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country.

"I started out searching for myself and my country," Peter Jenkins writes, "and found both." In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago -- from the timeless secrets of life, learned from…


Book cover of Living High: An Unconventional Autobiography

Margaret Meps Schulte Why did I love this book?

Sometimes, when we read history, it seems so dry and different from our own lives that it's hard to comprehend. In the 1920s and 30s, June Burn homesteaded on an island in the San Juans, lived in Alaska, and traveled across the country with a donkey cart. Yet I can envision myself in her adventurous life because her views were so much like my own. She was a feminist and a strong, brave woman who used her writing as an excuse to talk to strangers.

By June Burn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living High as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Courage, gaiety, and a fresh approach to life are reflected in this unconventional autobiography. It is a story of twentieth-century pioneers as resourceful as ever they were in the days of the old frontier. June Burn and her husband Farrar determined to go their own sweet way, enjoying first hand living and not surrendering to the routines of a workaday world. Through the years they had some high and glorious adventures, which included homesteading a gumdrop in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest, teaching Eskimos near Siberia, and exploring the United States by donkey cart with a baby…


Book cover of “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

Margaret Meps Schulte Why did I love this book?

Richard Feynman was a complete original, a brilliant scientist who lived life on his own terms. His curiosity is contagious, and he uses humor in his memoir to talk about all the people he encountered throughout his life, both in the US and overseas. He makes even the most highly-educated scientists sound fun and approachable! Curiosity is a key element in talking to strangers, and sometimes I think he had more than anyone else who ever lived.

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard P. Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. In this lively work that "can shatter the stereotype of the stuffy scientist" (Detroit Free Press), Feynman recounts his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets-and much more of an eyebrow-raising nature. In his stories, Feynman's life shines through in all its eccentric glory-a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Included for this edition is a new introduction by Bill Gates.


Book cover of Travels with Charley in Search of America

Margaret Meps Schulte Why did I love this book?

Leaving his wife at home, Steinbeck outfitted a camper in the 1950s and took off on an extended adventure with a large standard poodle named Charley. He was already a famous, award-winning author by this time, so it was easy for him to find people to talk to and learn what was going on across the United States. Although the book was intended for adults, I read it as a child, so I assumed that easygoing encounters with strangers were normal for everyone!

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Travels with Charley in Search of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light-these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the…


Book cover of Where the Heart Is

Margaret Meps Schulte Why did I love this book?

In this novel, a pregnant teenager gets abandoned in a small town where she doesn't know anyone. She begins connecting with strangers, one at a time, studying them and deciding which ones are safe to talk to. Eventually, the main character has built a complete support network for herself and her child. I love the way author Billie Letts describes the process of talking to strangers and connecting with them until they become some of our closest friends. It's the same way I get candy from strangers in real life.

By Billie Letts,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Where the Heart Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 17-year-old pregnant girl heading for Califonia with her boyfriend finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma, with just $7.77 in change. But she's about to be helped by a group of down-to-earth, deeply caring people, including a bible-thumping nun and an eccentric librarian.


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Book cover of Adventures in the Radio Trade: A Memoir

Joe Mahoney Author Of Adventures in the Radio Trade: A Memoir

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Broadcaster Family man Dog person Aspiring martial artist

Joe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Adventures in the Radio Trade documents a life in radio, largely at Canada's public broadcaster. It's for people who love CBC Radio, those interested in the history of Canadian Broadcasting, and those who want to hear about close encounters with numerous luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, J. Michael Straczynski, Stuart McLean, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gzowski, and more. And it's for people who want to know how to make radio.

Crafted with gentle humour and thoughtfulness, this is more than just a glimpse into the internal workings of CBC Radio. It's also a prose ode to the people and shows that make CBC Radio great.

By Joe Mahoney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adventures in the Radio Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In dozens of amiable, frequently humorous vignettes... Mahoney fondly recalls his career as a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio technician in this memoir... amusing and highly informative."
— Kirkus Reviews

"What a wonderful book! If you love CBC Radio, you'll love Adventures in the Radio Trade. Joe Mahoney's honest, wise, and funny stories from his three decades in broadcasting make for absolutely delightful reading!
— Robert J. Sawyer, author of The Oppenheimer Alternative''

"No other book makes me love the CBC more."
— Gary Dunford, Page Six
***
Adventures in the Radio Trade documents a life in radio, largely at Canada's…


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