The Chairs Are Where The People Go by Misha Glouberman with Sheila Heti

The Chairs Are Where The People Go reads a lot like a conversation between friends, but that's because friendship is what forms the basis of this book. Author Sheila Heti wanted her next book to be a compilation of everything her good friend, Misha Glouberman, knew because she had "always liked the way Misha speaks and thinks" and thought that "the world should have a book of everything he knows." Together, they made a list of 72 different subjects; and together, these 72 chapters blend together in a mishmash of a self-help book, a philosopher's teaching, and a textbook all in one.

With each subject being a very short chapter, I started off strong and breezed through a good half of the book. The perspectives put forth were interesting, witty and insightful – some of my favourite chapters include "How to Make Friends in a New City", "The Residents' Association", "Harvard and Class", "Going to Parties" and "Who Are Your Friends". I imagine Glouberman to be the type of friend I would have intellectually stimulating conversations with, and he would probably give me great, sound answers to even the most ridiculous topics (and that's the kind of friend I enjoy having around).

However as the book progresses, his discussions seem to revolve around his improv classes or the way he conducts them, which makes it rather repetitive. I wish both Heiti and Glouberman could have expanded on something else. But if I were to look at it from another perspective, if improv is where his passion lies, then it is by no means a fault of his to keep talking about improv. Maybe the actual real-life conversations these two had were way more interesting than on ink-and-paper.

All in all, The Chairs Are Where The People Go is a pretty fun read and you'll walk away finding yourself questioning things you may have never intended to.


by Tang Xin Ya