Tag Archives: list

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In this Monday’s Link Roundup don’t miss Should you work for free? It looks at what it means to do the work of a professional and the difference between that and the work that goes into a hobby.  If you’re concerned about the proliferation of digital gadgets in our lives, then you’ll want to read Cyborg dreams. It examines the dangers inherent in the magic of new technologies.

  • Getting Over Your Self-Promotion Phobia. “…here are a few tips to help you nip your fear of self-promotion in the bud. When you overcome the perceived horrors of doing so, you will likely find that your business grows–and that self-promotion isn’t so bad after all. You may even grow to love it!”
  • 10½ Favorite Reads from TED Bookstore 2013. “I had the honor of curating a selection of books for the TED Bookstore at TED 2013, themed The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered. Below are this year’s picks, along with the original text that appears on the bookstore cards and the introductory blurb about the selection:”
  • Should you work for free? “Work is what you do as a professional, when you make a promise that involves rigor and labor (physical and emotional) and risk. Work is showing up at the appointed time, whether or not you feel like it. Work is creating value on demand, and work (for the artist) means putting all of it (or most of it) on the line. So it’s not work when you indulge your hobby and paint an oil landscape, but it’s work when you agree to paint someone’s house by next week. And it’s not work when you cook dinner for friends, but it’s work when you’re a sous chef on the line on Saturday night.”
  • The Ghost in the Gulfstream. “Tapped by the late billionaire entrepreneur Theodore Forstmann to ghostwrite his autobiography, in 2010, the author found himself jetting off to Paris and London on Forstmann’s Gulfstream while the then chairman of IMG told tales of his legendary career as private-equity pioneer, philanthropist, and playboy. It was only when Rich Cohen sat down to actually write the book that the trouble began: an emotional tug-of-war that mirrored a central conflict in Forstmann’s life.”
  • Cyborg dreams. “Digital gadgets are the first thing we touch in the morning, and the last thing we stroke at night. Are we slaves to their magic?”
  • ‘Licking the Spoon’ by Candace Walsh. “…is a gastro-journey to self-discovery. It begins with a short family history, because Walsh’s family is instrumental in her life and cooking. Then it moves from her birth through her growing up on Long Island, her college years in Buffalo, her early twenties in New York City, her first marriage, divorce, and more. Through it all, Walsh narrates her life alongside the food that inspired and sustained her—from cookies baked at her mother’s side to thrifty split pea soup to “dinners of the defeated” to bacon-wrapped eggs with polenta. It’s a clever concept, and there is much to savor within these pages.”

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The 50 Best Questions to Ask Your Mother.

mother and daughter

How well do you really know your Mother? Chances are, not as well as you think.

With Mother’s Day not far off ( May 12), why not consider putting together a little recording or booklet about your Mother? The following questions are a good place to start.

[ Note: These questions assume a traditional family with Mom, Dad, and children. I'm aware that the wording of several questions might feel exclusionary for same sex partners with children. That's not my intent. The questions can be easily adapted to fit any family. ]

  1. Describe who you were as a little girl.
  2. What’s a favorite story from your childhood?
  3. What did you learn from your parents?
  4. How are you like and different from your Mother?
  5. How are you like and  different from your Father?
  6. Other than your parents, who was the most important person in your life when you were a child? And why?
  7. What’s a favorite memory from your elementary school days?
  8. As a young girl, what did you dream of being one day?
  9. How did your childhood shape the woman you are today?
  10. Tell me a story that involves you and your first boy friend.
  11. As an adolescent, what kind of mischief did you get into?
  12. Tell me about your first job.
  13. What did you work at the longest and what did you like about it?
  14. What didn’t you like about that job?
  15. Tell me how you and Dad met?
  16. What attracted you to him?
  17. What did you hope for in your married life?
  18. How did your married life meet your expectations?
  19. How are you and Dad alike and different?
  20. Tell me a story about a special time in your marriage.
  21. What have you learned about marriage that you’d like to pass on to others?
  22. How did having children change your life?
  23. What’s the best and worst thing about being a Mother?
  24. What words of wisdom do you have on parenting?
  25. What was an important road not taken?
  26. What have you been the proudest of in your life?
  27. Tell me a story that shows how you overcame an obstacle in your life.
  28. What would you say are your weaknesses?
  29. What’s a dream not yet fulfilled?
  30. What do you rely on to get you through the tough times?
  31. Describe a moment in your life that was filled with wonder.
  32. Who’s been the most important person in your adult life? And why?
  33. How would you describe your spiritual beliefs?
  34. What’s your view of an afterlife?
  35. What has always come easy to you?
  36. What are your three wishes for me?
  37. What do you admire about me?
  38. If you had one piece of advice for me, what would it be?
  39. What qualities do you admire in your friends?
  40. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? And why?
  41. What makes you laugh?
  42. What makes you sad?
  43. Whom do you admire most in the world? And why?
  44. What was the happiest time in your life?
  45. What’s unique about you?
  46. If you could change one thing in your life, what would that be?
  47. What’s the most amazing thing you’ve experienced in your life?
  48. Tell me something that people don’t know about you.
  49. If you had only one day to live, how would you live it?
  50. How would you like to be remembered?

If you found these questions helpful, you might also want to look at The 50 Best Life Story Questions.

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Image by iStockphoto

15 Great Memoirs Written by Men.

I dislike modern memoirs. They are generally written by people who have either entirely lost their memories, or have never done anything worth remembering. ~ Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s wit could well apply to many of today’s memoirs. But the truth is that among the deluge of memoirs published every year there are some gems.

In a previous post I compiled 15 Great Memoirs Written by Women. One of my readers suggested I give men equal time and bring together a list of memoirs written by male authors. So here it is – a totally subjective listing but all terrific reads.  What’s a favorite memoir of yours that I haven’t included?


Experience: A Memoir by Martin Amis

“The son of the great comic novelist Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis explores his relationship with this father and writes about the various crises of Kingsley’s life. He also examines the life and legacy of his cousin, Lucy Partington, who was abducted and murdered by one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers. Experience also deconstructs the changing literary scene, including Amis’ portraits of Saul Bellow, Salman Rushdie, Allan Bloom, Philip Larkin, and Robert Graves, among others.” ~ from Amazon.com

Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves

“In 1929 Robert Graves went to live abroad permanently, vowing ‘never to make England my home again’. This is his superb account of his life up until that ‘bitter leave-taking’: from his childhood and desperately unhappy school days at Charterhouse, to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War that was to haunt him throughout his life.” ~ from Amazon.com

Dispatches by Michael Herr

“American correspondent Herr’s documentary recalls the heavy combat he witnessed in Vietnam as well as the obscene speech, private fears and nightmares of the soldiers. “Herr captures the almost hallucinatory madness of the war,” said PW. “This is a compelling, truth-telling book with a visceral impact, its images stuck in the mind like shards from a pineapple bomb.” ~ from Publishers Weekly

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

“In All Creatures Great and Small, we meet the young Herriot as he takes up his calling and discovers that the realities of veterinary practice in rural Yorkshire are very different from the sterile setting of veterinary school. From caring for his patients in the depths of winter on the remotest homesteads to dealing with uncooperative owners and critically ill animals, Herriot discovers the wondrous variety and never-ending challenges of veterinary practice as his humor, compassion, and love of the animal world shine forth.” ~ from Amazon.com

Wordstruck: A Memoir by Robert MacNeil

“People become writers, in large part, because they are in love with language. Wordstruck is the story of one such writer’s unabashed affair with words, from his Halifax childhood awash with intriguing accents to life as a traveling journalist who “delighted in finding pockets of distinctive English, as a botanist is thrilled to discover a new variety of plant.” ~ from goodreads.com

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

“Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood,” writes Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes. “Worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” Welcome, then, to the pinnacle of the miserable Irish Catholic childhood. Born in Brooklyn in 1930 to recent Irish immigrants Malachy and Angela McCourt, Frank grew up in Limerick after his parents returned to Ireland because of poor prospects in America.” ~ from Amazon.com

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller

“Miller, the accidental memoirist who struck gold with the likable ramble Blue Like Jazz, writes about the challenges inherent in getting unstuck creatively and spiritually. After Jazz sold more than a million copies but his other books didn’t follow suit, he had a classic case of writer’s block. Two movie producers contacted him about creating a film out of his life, but Miller’s initial enthusiasm was dampened when they concluded that his real life needed doctoring lest it be too directionless for the screen.” ~ from Publishers Weekly

Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette

“… poetic yet highly political, angry yet infused with the love of life–is what transforms Becoming a Man from simple autobiography into an intense record of struggle and salvation. Paul Monette did not lead a life different from many gay men–he struggled courageously with his family, his sexuality, his AIDS diagnosis–but in bearing witness to his and others’ pain, he creates a personal testimony that illuminates the darkest corners of our culture even as it finds unexpected reserves of hope.” ~ from Amazon.com

Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

“[Nabokov] has fleshed the bare bones of historical data with hilarious anecdotes and with a felicity of style that makes Speak, Memory a constant pleasure to read. Confirmed Nabokovians will relish the further clues and references to his fictional works that shine like nuggets in the silver stream of his prose.”  ~ from Harper’s

Steinbeck: A Life in Letters by John Steinbeck

“Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck was a prolific correspondent. Opening with letters written during Steinbeck’s early years in California, and closing with an unfinished, 1968 note written in Sag Harbor, New York, this collection of around 850 letters to friends, family, his editor and a diverse circle of well-known and influential public figures gives an insight into the raw creative processes of one of the most naturally-gifted and hard-working writing minds of this century.” ~ from Amazon.com

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron

“A meditation on Styron’s ( Sophie’s Choice ) serious depression at the age of 60, this essay evokes with detachment and dignity the months-long turmoil whose symptoms included the novelist’s “dank joylessness,” insomnia, physical aversion to alcohol (previously “an invaluable senior partner of my intellect”) and his persistent “fantasies of self-destruction” leading to psychiatric treatment and hospitalization.” ~ from Publishers Weekly

Self-Consciousness by John Updike

“Updike’s memoir–it is by no means an autobiography, but rather, as the title brilliantly suggests, a thoughtful communing with past selves–is, as expected, wonderfully written. It is also disarmingly frank about certain aspects of the writer’s life,” maintained PW. Updike discusses his psoriasis and stuttering, his parents and failures as husband and father, his politics, the ways in which God permeates his life, and his profound commitment to writing.” ~ from Publishers Weekly

Night by Elie Wiesel

“In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life’s essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel’s lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.” ~ from Amazon.com

This Boy’s Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff

“In PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Wolff’s fourth book, he recounts his coming-of-age with customary skill and self-assurance. Seeking a better life in the Northwestern U.S. with his divorced mother, whose “strange docility, almost paralysis, with men of the tyrant breed” taught Wolff the virtue of rebellion, he considered himself “in hiding,” moved to invent a private, “better” version of himself in order to rise above his troubles.”  ~ from Publishers Weekly

Black Boy by Richard Wright

“Autobiography by Richard Wright, published in 1945 and considered to be one of his finest works… From the 1960s the work came to be understood as the story of Wright’s coming of age and development as a writer whose race, though a primary component of his life, was but one of many that formed him as an artist.”  ~ from The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Photo by  kim fleming

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Encore! 10 Commandments for the Professional Personal Historian.

10 Commandments for the Professional Personal Historian. I’m not Moses or even a prophet for that matter. But I’ve been around for a while! As a freelancer for thirty years,  I’ve learned some key lessons that can be summed up in these ten commandments that I try my best to follow. Not always successfully!  For those of you starting out, these might provide a useful checklist. For the experienced among us, perhaps the commandments will be a  useful reminder of what we need to keep doing. What are your … Read More

6 First-Class Short Run Printers.

Are you looking for a reliable, quality, short run printer? These six  all come highly recommended by my colleagues at the Association of Personal Historians.

If you have other printers that you’ve had a good experience with, let me know.  I’ll add their names to a future list.


“In 2010 a book is no longer just a book. A book is a paperback, a hardcover, or, of course, an ebook. It needs to be in the form the reader wants it, when the reader wants it. As a publisher you see opportunity in this epochal change. As BookMobile, we see the vision we created in the ’90s being realized.”

Custom Museum Publishing

“Custom Museum Publishing specializes in the creative design, production and printing of full-color books, exhibit catalogs and marketing materials for artists, galleries, museums and historical societies. Located in beautiful mid-coast Maine, our newest printing technology makes your showcase-quality products affordable in either small or large quantities. In addition to perfect-bound and hard-bound books and exhibit catalogs, we offer calendars, note cards, post cards, brochures, and large-format signage.  We also offer experienced exhibit photography and copy editing.”

Family Heritage Publishers

“Utah Bookbinding Company is the binding division of Family Heritage Publishers.  It has been in continuous operation since its establishment in March 1952. It has been owned and operated by the same family since the beginning. It is the premiere library binding company serving the Intermountain West. Its experience is unsurpassed in the industry with employees having a collective experience of over 100 years.”

First Choice Books

“Book publishers, small publishing presses and independent authors who wish to self publish will find our self publishing  company affordable, trustworthy and dependable. Quotations are provided within 2 to 3 business days and a hardcopy proof within 2 weeks. Our high tech book printing equipment and experienced, friendly team of professionals will make your publishing experience enjoyable and informative.”


“Our company will be successful only if our customers are successful.”  Those were the words of D.W. Friesen who started our company in 1907, in Altona, Manitoba. What started as a small confectionery store has grown to become one of Canada’s leading independent companies, specializing in book manufacturing and printing.”

Gorham Printing

“We are a Pacific Northwest book printer specializing in book design and book printing for self-published books. At Gorham Printing, it’s easy to turn your manuscript into a professional quality book. If you are looking for exceptional book design combined with quality book printing, you’ve come to the right place!”

Photo by John Biehler