Who hasn’t found themselves at party, standing awkwardly by the guacamole, approximately five feet from another person doing the same? Sometimes it’s just hard to know what to say to start a conversation.
Davy Rothbart can help. In his new TED Book, How Did You End Up Here?: The Surprising Ways Our Questions Connect Us, Rothbart collects more than 100 of his all-time favorite questions to ask someone you’ve just met, generated by people around North America whom he’s only just met himself. Rothbart opens his toolbox, sharing secrets of his trade, stories from the road, and strategies for approaching people and pushing past superficialities while also taking a close look the questions themselves — the funny, strange and surprising questions we all want to ask the people around us.
Rothbart — a writer, reporter and documentary filmmaker — is known for his curiosity about other people’s lives. Whether it’s the folks he interviews as a frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life, or the people he connects with through the personal notes and letters published in his annual magazine, Found, Rothbart has honed a unique talent for compassionately probing into the lives of strangers and drawing out surprisingly revealing stories of beauty, heartbreak and humor.