Statistics [Dull]. Stories [Powerful].

Last week, I was on vacation.  It was wonderful.  Every year my family spends the second week in August at Bethany Beach on the Delaware shore.  It’s easily the most relaxing week of the year because we spend 95% of the week within a two block radius.  I’m also someone who loves to get engrossed in a good book but find it tough to do during the buzz of the work week.  Last week, I took advantage of the quiet and fell deep into Half the Sky.

I had heard rave reviews about Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, for the last year.  I even borrowed a friend’s copy when I was traveling, left it in India because it was a hardback book and too heavy to be hauling all over the world, and then had to order it again off of Amazon to pretend I didn’t leave it in India.  I’m doubly invested, literally, in this book.  The tagline of the book, “Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”, peaked my curiosity as someone who is trying to connect volunteers with worthwhile projects in developing countries.

This book is incredible.  It’s one of the most powerful books that I’ve read, well, ever.  Kristof and WuDunn aren’t presenting new material but they are doing it in a revolutionary way.  They are telling the stories of women throughout the world.  Deeply personal stories.  They know the statistics, facts, and figures and weave them throughout the storylines, but they are not the central them of the book.  These stories make you want to get up out of your chair and DO SOMETHING.

This technique is conscious. 

“Frankly, we hesitate to pile on the data, since even when numbers are persuasive, they are not galvanizing.  A growing collection of psychological studies show that statistics have a dulling effect, while it is individual stories that move people to act.”



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