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Check out a human library, where you borrow people instead of books.

A surely unforgettable experience reaching all corners of the world.

There are libraries popping up around the world where you can see the books breathe.

You can watch the books blink, cry, laugh, and think. You can ask them any sort of question and get a real answer.

It's what the books hope you'll do.


The library desk at the 2015 Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark. All images via the Human Library, used with permission.

At the Human Library, the books are people!

It's set up just like a normal library: You check out a "book" on a certain topic and have an allotted amount of time with it. Only at the Human Library, the book is, well, a human.

People who volunteer to become "books" make their experiences open and available, usually on issues that people tend to have a difficult time discussing. "Readers" are encouraged to ask questions freely, and they'll get honest answers in return. It's brilliant.

What kind of books can you borrow there?

1. Borrow a person with autism.

With 1 in 68 kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) today, there's no better way to learn about it than by interacting with someone who has it.

2. Borrow someone who has modified their appearance.

Ever make assumptions about people with lots of piercings and tattoos? Here's an opportunity to stop judging a book by its cover and get to know the inside.

3. Borrow a refugee and hear their story.

You've heard about the Syrian refugee crisis in the news. Why not put the media on hold and talk to an actual refugee?

4. Borrow someone who is transgender.

Perhaps you've always had questions about being transgender but didn't know how to ask them. Go ahead. Get your questions ready.

5. Borrow a homeless person.

What stories do they have of a life you may never know?

6. Borrow someone with deaf-blindness.

Just because they communicate differently doesn't mean their stories are less.

7. Borrow someone who is obese.

Society loves to put people in categories. Break through those boundaries to get a fuller picture.

You can borrow a police officer. A veteran with PTSD. A single mom. A Muslim. Someone in a polyamorous relationship. A former gang member. A sex worker. A welfare recipient. A teacher. The list goes on.

The libraries are bringing people who would otherwise never interact together in a way that many communities long for.

That's what Ronni Abergel has sought to do since the library's launch in 2000. During a four-day test run at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, organizers and festival attendees were stunned at the event's impact.

"The policeman sitting there speaking with the graffiti writer. The politician in discussions with the youth activist and the football fan in a deep chat with the feminist. It was a win-win situation and has been ever since," Ronni said on the Human Library's site.

A no-judgment zone is one key to its impact.

"It's meant to be a safe space to ask difficult questions and not to be judged," he told Upworthy. "To try and gain an important insight into the life of someone you think you know something about, but..."

You don't.

It's been 16 years since that first library event in Denmark. Today, the library has spread to over 70 countries (including the United States!), with openings in South Africa, Sudan, Chile, and Israel planned for 2016.

In our quick-to-judge, increasingly polarized world, it's no wonder these events are growing in size. We need them.

When asked what has changed since these events started, Ronni responded, “The world has changed, for the worse.”

He points to there being less tolerance, less understanding, and less social cohesion than when he first had the idea back in 2000. And unfortunately, he's right.

When we have states discriminating against transgender people using the bathroom, presidential candidates campaigning to ban an entire religion from entering the United States, and countries still facing stigma around Ebola, it can be hard to want to high-five humanity.

There's so much to learn about one another. A group of readers here borrowed a nudist.

It's time to face our fears and confront our stereotypes. To embrace the diversity of this world will allow us to feel more secure in it.

"When you meet our books, no matter who you are and where you are from or which book you will be reading, in the end, inside every person, the result will say: we are different from each other, we see things differently and we live life differently. But there are more things that we have in common than are keeping us apart." Truth.

If there's one immediately impactful way to bring communities together, a Human Library might just be it.

This snapshot from an event at the University of Victoria is a great example of why.



Brandon Conway sounds remarkably like Michael Jackson when he sings.

When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, the pop music world lost a legend. However markedly mysterious and controversial his personal life was, his contributions to music will go down in history as some of the most influential of all time.

Part of what made him such a beloved singer was the uniqueness of his voice. From the time he was a young child singing lead for The Jackson 5, his high-pitched vocals stood out. Hearing him sing live was impressive, his pitch-perfect performances always entertaining.

No one could ever really be compared to MJ, or so we thought. Out of the blue, a guy showed up on TikTok recently with a casual performance that sounds so much like the King of Pop it's blowing people away.

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1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)