How to Know a Person, a review by Jenn

How to Know a Person
The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen
David Brooks

October 24, 2023
320 pages
Random House

Goodreads | | Amazon

A practical, heartfelt guide to the art of truly knowing another person in order to foster deeper connections at home, at work, and throughout our lives—from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Road to Character and The Second Mountain

As David Brooks observes, “There is one skill that lies at the heart of any healthy person, family, school, community organization, or society: the ability to see someone else deeply and make them feel seen—to accurately know another person, to let them feel valued, heard, and understood.”

And yet we humans don’t do this well. All around us are people who feel invisible, unseen, misunderstood. In How to Know a Person, Brooks sets out to help us do better, posing questions that are essential for all of us: If you want to know a person, what kind of attention should you cast on them? What kind of conversations should you have? What parts of a person’s story should you pay attention to?

Driven by his trademark sense of curiosity and his determination to grow as a person, Brooks draws from the fields of psychology and neuroscience and from the worlds of theater, philosophy, history, and education to present a welcoming, hopeful, integrated approach to human connection. How to Know a Person helps readers become more understanding and considerate toward others, and to find the joy that comes from being seen. Along the way it offers a possible remedy for a society that is riven by fragmentation, hostility, and misperception.

The act of seeing another person, Brooks argues, is profoundly creative: How can we look somebody in the eye and see something large in them, and in turn, see something larger in ourselves? How to Know a Person is for anyone searching for connection, and yearning to be understood.

My Review 


In a world filled with distractions and digital noise How to Know a Person offers a refreshing and much-needed guide to rediscovering the art of genuine connection with those around us. If you’re looking for a readable, insightful, and practical book to enhance your interpersonal skills, this is a must-read.

“There are few things as fulfilling as that sense of being seen and understood”

Brooks dives deep into the important topic of human connection, offering valuable insights and tools that can be applied to various aspects of our lives. This book is not just a theoretical treatise; it’s a practical guide that gives you with the necessary skills to truly see and be seen by others in a deep and meaningful way.

What sets this book apart from other books in the non-fiction, self help genre is its readability. Brooks has a knack for making complex concepts accessible and engaging. He seamlessly weaves together research findings, personal anecdotes, and real-life examples that bring the book to life. You’ll find yourself nodding in agreement and recognizing moments from your own experiences.

One of the my favourite parts of How to Know a Person is the bibliography. Brooks’ extensive research and the wealth of academic sources cited throughout the book add an extra layer of credibility to his insights.

The true treasure of this book lies in the tools it provides. You’ll discover practical strategies to improve your emotional intelligence, deepen your relationships, and foster meaningful connections with people from all walks of life. Brooks’ advice is actionable, and his guidance is delivered with warmth and empathy.

In today’s fast-paced world, where screens often mediate our interactions, How to Know a Person serves as a timely reminder of the importance of genuine human connection. This book is a precious resource for anyone seeking to enhance their social skills, build better relationships, and navigate the complexities of human interaction. It’s a guide that resonates with readers of all backgrounds and experiences.

After finishing How to Know a Person, I found myself eager to apply its principles and share its wisdom with those around me. It’s a book I will undoubtedly keep on my bookshelf, ready to refer back to whenever I need a refresher. In a world hungry for deeper connections, David Brooks’ work is a beacon of light. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to better understand themselves and the people around them.


About the Author

David Brooks is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times and appears regularly on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He teaches at Yale University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the bestselling author of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement; Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There; and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense. He has three children and lives in Maryland.


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