On My Bookshelf: It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario

On My Bookshelf: It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario

An afternoon shopping at New York’s Strand bookstore is an exercise in both decadence and restraint. Like most book lovers, I’ve back and forthed my reading habits to acknowledge the portability and economy of an e-reader. My criteria for buying physical books have become more specific: art and reference books, and out-of-print titles are the most likely to make the cut. And when I’m traveling, I have to curb my purchases to stay within the airline luggage weight limits that I only challenge with books.

A few months ago, Lynsey Addario’s memoir, “It’s What I Do,” made the cut as I circled around the Strand. The freelance photojournalist’s memoir is a beautiful book, replete with her images covering stories all over the world. Still, it wound up in the mid-section of my “to read” pile. When I finally opened it, I blitzed through it in a day.

Addario has a clean style that elucidates the key turning points in her development. Soon after she got her first job in Argentina, she went to see an exhibit of Sebastiao Salgado:

But when I entered the exhibition space, I was so overcome by his images–the passion, the details, the texture–that I decided to devote myself to photojournalism and documentary photography. Something I had perceived until that moment as a simple means of capturing pretty scenes became something altogether different: It was a way to tell a story. It was the marriage of travel and foreign culture and curiosity and photography. It was photojournalism.

Her subject matter will have a certain appeal to photographers, journalists, and other media types. I didn’t anticipate how good a writer she would be, especially in making her very specific life a universal tale of finding meaning in work, in family, and in the world.