Tag Archives: stories

I Need Your Advice: Part Two.

thank you

Thank you! What a wonderful response to last weeks post, I Need Your Advice.  My appreciation to all of you who gave your thoughtful reasons for my recording my life story.

Your reasons boil down to these five:

  • It’s an opportunity for reflection, insights, and renewal.
  • Friends and colleagues want to know the person behind the blog.
  • My life’s been interesting and it should be documented.
  • My personal view of the events that have shaped my past are part of our collective oral history.
  • I’ll be more empathetic of my clients as they work through their life story.

As great as these are, it was an e-mail response from Bruce Summers, a fellow member of the Association of Personal Historians,  that moved me the most. I was reminded again of the power of storytelling. And how stories can be far more effective than facts and arguments in touching our hearts.

I asked Bruce for permission to reprint his story. He kindly agreed.

Do yourself a favor and read this lovely reminiscence and its convincing argument for the need to record our life stories.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joe & Helen

by Bruce Summers

Growing up I lived next to Joe and Helen Sitler. They were an older couple with no children. Joe had no brothers and sisters and he was the end of the Sitler line. We loved Helen. She was like a third grandmother to us. Joe was a bit gruff.  He would not let us play in his yard, especially when he was mowing. He was afraid that the lawn tractor might throw a stone and hit me or one of my three brothers. In middle school I shared a bit of Joe’s story in an article I wrote for the school magazine. People thought I made it up, notably the parts about what I had learned from Joe.

Later when Joe was very ill and nearing death, my older brother and I went over and helped Helen move him.  He was skin and bones.  Helen needed help so she could give him a sponge bath and change his linens. Joe died soon after. This was my first encounter with the death of a friend and a neighbor. Even though he was a bit gruff, he was Helen’s husband and because of this he was a special man. They used to love to go to the City and dance to the music of the Big Bands when they came to town. He was born in the 19th century and had lived a full life and retired before I knew him. Most importantly he captured Helen’s heart and had been a good husband. I missed Joe and 40 years later still treasure my memories of him.

Another eight or so years later after I graduated from college, I had the privilege of house sitting in Joe and Helen Sitler’s  house. This was after she herself had grown older, more feeble and hard of hearing and needed to be in a nursing home. Her hearing aids did not really work well and it was hard to talk with her, hard to share with her how important she and Joe had been as our older grandparent-like neighbors, too late to tell her that I felt a little bad for stealing some of the grapes each year that Joe grew on his grape arbor just five feet from the border of our yard. I wished too late that I knew more about Joe and Helen who had no descendants and no relatives that we knew. They were our neighbors. They were our friends and they shared part of our lives growing up.

As I sat in their living room and slept in a bed in one of their bedrooms, cooked my meals at their table, wrote newspaper stories on my typewriter at their dining table, as I explored their home, the time capsule that they had lived in, I wondered about their lives. I remembered that Joe never let Helen turn on the electric lights. They used candles and were very frugal. She canned vegetables and fruits. The jars were in the basement in the back room on a built-in shelf made just for that purpose.

I finally left that house to join the Peace Corps. I visited Helen to say goodbye, realizing that I would likely never see her again. When she died, I asked my parents to purchase an old high-backed Walnut Chair from their living room. It was the one I sat in to watch TV or to write letters to my future wife late at night. I wanted to have a piece of their story since I was never going to have any written history.

I am left with memories of Helen and Joe – my good and my gruff neighbors. They have no descendants. They are the last of their line but are not yet forgotten forty years after they both had died.

Perhaps you will or will not decide to write your story – a bit of a legacy to the rest of us and to friends and colleagues, many of us very virtual and little known to you. I enjoy your blog posts. I very much enjoy the stories you tell and I admire your work and your background. You never know for sure who will read, who will remember, who will retell or share your story. It might mean a great deal to many of us to know a bit more about the man behind the camera and the man behind the blog. Good luck with your decision.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

Happy Victoria Day to my Canadian compatriots.  For those of you who have the day off, what better way to idle a few hours away than immerse yourself in my Monday’s Link Roundup. ;-)

  • Oral history and hearing loss. “I rarely consider the basics of oral history collection and production, the act of sharing someone’s story with a wider audience. That is one of several reasons I so enjoyed Brad Rakerd’s contribution to Oral History Review issue on Oral History in the Digital Age, “On Making Oral Histories More Accessible to Persons with Hearing Loss.” In his piece, Rakerd discusses the obstacles people with hearing loss or other limitations on speech understanding face when engaging with oral history, and offers several recommendations to allow scholars to make their material more accessible. Mad with the power of the OUPblog post, I contacted Rakerd to prod him for more information.”
  • How to Write a Simple Business Plan. “Simple is always best. So with this in mind, here’s our guide to writing a business plan that won’t make potential investors want to tear their hair out in confusion.”
  • The Stories That Only Artists Can Tell. “…it seems to me that artists talk about different things when describing themselves than do their biographers and commentators. Biographers focus almost exclusively on the artwork, who taught and influenced the artist, changes in the artist’s work, an estimation of the artist’s work. Who the artist knew and spent time with, as well as notable events in the artist’s life, are detailed to the degree that they explain the evolution of the artwork.”
  • Walking Across America: Advice for a Young Man. “It’s rare we take the time to listen to hour-long radio stories anymore, but I hope you’ll listen to this one, maybe twice. It’s an epic journey, a coming of age story, and a portrait of this country–big-hearted, wild, innocent, and wise…Andrew Forsthoefel, a first-time radio producer, who set out at age 23 to walk across America, East to West, 4000 miles, with a sign on him that said, “Walking to Listen.” Eventually, he showed up here in Woods Hole.Andrew didn’t intend to make a radio story–he just wanted to listen to people. You’ll hear in Andrew’s interviews his quality of attention. He is a magnet for stories and for the desire to connect.”
  • The Einstein Principle: Accomplish More By Doing Less. “Einstein’s push for general relativity highlights an important reality about accomplishment. We are most productive when we focus on a very small number of projects on which we can devote a large amount of attention.”
  • Why You Should Give A $*%! About Words That Offend. [NPR Interview] “If you said the “s” word in the ninth century, you probably wouldn’t have shocked or offended anyone. Back then, the “s” word was just the everyday word that was used to refer to excrement. That’s one of many surprising, foul-mouthed facts Melissa Mohr reveals in her new book, Holy S- – -: A Brief History of Swearing. Though the curse words themselves change over time, the category remains constant — we always have a set of words that are off-limits. “We need some category of swear words,” Mohr says. “[These] words really fulfill a function that people have found necessary for thousands of years.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

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.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

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.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Image by iStockphoto

How to Ask Questions that Will Unlock Life Stories.

locks

“A storyteller who provided us with…a profusion of details would rapidly grow maddening. Unfortunately, life itself often subscribes to this mode of storytelling, wearing us out with repetition, misleading emphases and inconsequential plot lines…The anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress; they cut away the periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments, and thus, without either lying or embellishing, they lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting wooliness of the present.” — Alain de Botton (The Art of Travel)

______________________

Last week I wrote How to Get the Stories in a Life Story Interview.  I spoke about the need to draw on good storytelling techniques (i.e.,  surprising twists and turns, interesting characters, a sense of progression, etc.) when interviewing a client for a life story.

Today I want to focus on the kind of questions that will help unlock the stories.

What you want to think about as you’re interviewing a client is how do my questions help reveal the stories of this person’s life.

Avoid at all costs questions that lead to mind-numbing details that neither illustrate nor contribute to the story being told.

Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the minutiae of a life. But it must in some way enhance our appreciation of the overall story. For example, describing in some detail what an individual wore to school could nicely illustrate the story of how poor this person was compared to fellow classmates.

On the other hand, details about where an interviewee bought his shoes, what kind of shoes they were, their color, how well they fit, and how much his friends admired them will cause our eyes to glaze over – unless there’s a payoff.

To elicit stories  use prompts such as Describe, Illustrate, Paint, and Tell.

To illustrate, I’ve grouped together six pairs of life story queries. The first in each pair is  weaker than the second and on its own not likely to lead to much of a story. The second question is stronger and provides more opportunity for story telling.

Weak  “Where did you live?”
Strong  “Paint a picture for me of the place where you grew up.”

Weak “What did you do on summer holidays?”
Strong “What was one of your most memorable summer holidays?”

Weak “What is your grandchild’s name?”
Strong “Tell me a favorite story of you and your grandchild.”

Weak “What was a peak moment in your life?”
Strong “Describe a time when you felt on top of the world.”

Weak  “What regrets do you have in your life?”
Strong “Describe an incident in your past that you still regret.”

Weak “What was the hardest part of being a parent?”
Strong “Tell me a story that illustrates the challenges of being a parent.”

As personal historians we have an opportunity to turn the richness of a person’s life into an engaging and treasured story.

Remember the words of Ken Kesey.

“To hell with facts! We need stories!”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Photo Credit: DaveBleasdale via Compfight cc

How to Get the Stories in a Life Story Interview.

iStock_in the beginningWhat makes a great story? If you think of the characteristics of your favorite novels, you’ll probably come up with a list like mine:

o engaging characters

o interesting settings

o intriguing and coherent plot

o surprising twists and turns

o conflict and resolution

These same story elements also apply to non-fiction works like life stories or memoirs. One of the pitfalls that inexperienced personal historians  make is to forget this. Great stories engage the reader or listener.

A narrative that reads, “This happened and then that happened. And then this happened followed by that happening.” is not engaging. It’s simply a recitation of events, places, and details.  It’s boring.

Here’s how you can ensure that you get great stories.

As you interview a client, listen carefully and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the story have a strong sense of place?
  • Are the characters well drawn?
  • Is the story intriguing?
  • Am I drawn in?
  • Am I delighted?
  • Am I surprised?
  • Is there a sense of moving forward – a journey?
  • Is the storyteller emotionally connected to the story?
  • Is this a crucial story in the person’s life? Is it a turning point?
  • Does the story seem to have a purpose? That is, is it worth telling?

If your answer is “No” to any one of these, gently redirect the interview. Ask questions that will turn the “No’s” into “Yes’s”.

You’ll be surprised at how much more engaging your client’s  stories will be.

Guaranteed.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Photo by iStockphoto

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Monday's Link Roundup

In today’s Monday’s Link Roundup, if you look at nothing else, I highly recommend Noah St. John’s ‘The Last Mile’ [Video]. It’s tour-de-force storytelling by a 15-year-old boy. And for some excellent scanning advice from the Library of Congress make sure to read Scanning: DIY or Outsource.

  • Protecting Your Digital Assets in the Afterlife. “Many consumers have gone down the virtual path, accumulating online store credits and using PayPal to buy goods and services. But digital assets, which include anything from social networking profiles to email accounts to websites, can have value far beyond money. So the question remains: What happens when you pass away?”
  • Rare color photos of World War I. “Photographer Anton Orlov recently discovered over 600 color images from World War I on “Magic Lantern” slides in a house in Northern California. The images depict snow-covered villages, train tracks, bullet-riddled buildings, and soldiers in trenches, by houses and on trains. The slides were hand-colored and are still in good condition.”
  • Scanning: DIY or Outsource. “At our personal digital archiving events, we get various questions about scanning family photos, slides, negatives and film. Questions like:  What type of scanner should I use? What resolution should I use? How can I scan negatives? While we’ve focused on developing tips and resources for saving personal digital materials created with software and hardware, we recognize that individuals have the both analog and digital materials and are looking for guidance on how to deal with both.”
  • Virginia Woolf on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary. “A fairly late journaling bloomer, she began writing in 1915, at the age of 33, and continued until her last entry in 1941, four days before her death, leaving behind 26 volumes written in her own hand. More than a mere tool of self-exploration, however, Woolf approached the diary as a kind of R&D lab for her craft.”
  • My sons and I were linked in by Lincoln. “I was disappointed not long ago when my 21-year-old son, John, turned down my invitation to see the movie Lincoln. “I am not into politics, Dad,” he said over the phone. “Forget politics – think history,” I responded.”
  • Noah St. John’s ‘The Last Mile’ [Video] “This is the first of series of stories from a new partnership between The Huffington Post and NPR’s new hit storytelling program, “Snap Judgment,” hosted by Glynn Washington. And it’s a good one.” [Thanks to Sally Goldin of  Tell Me A Story for alerting me to this item.]

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup there’s so much good stuff to choose from. As a closet designer, I was particularly drawn to The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design.  This is a must on every designer’s wish list. As someone who volunteers at our local Hospice, I was deeply moved by Hospice Hand Portraiture.  And if your business involves the gathering or tellingof stories, you’ll want to read Telling Your Story: The Secrets To Content Branding.

  • People Of The Bookshelf. “Alpha by subject … or by dinner party seating rules? Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks on a shelving obsession.”
  • Are You Overwhelmed by Marketing? “Does it seem like there are just too many things to do to market your business? It’s easy to get overwhelmed by marketing ideas, plans, and tasks, especially when many of them involve learning new skills. And then people are always telling you about something else to do. But you’re only one person. You can only afford to pay for so much help. Is it really even possible to do everything about marketing that others say you should? Here are four steps to find a clear path out of marketing overwhelm.”
  • Hospice Hand Portraiture. “As a hospice nurse and photographer I have the honor to witness and capture the unwavering expression of love that endures between people living with terminal illness… Hand portraiture preserves this important expression of love. Each hand is different; a symbol of identity that embodies character and tells stories. Hands reveal honest emotion. Hands are for holding.”
  • The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design. “Every once in a while, along comes a book-as-artifact that becomes an instant, inextricable necessity in the life of any graphic design aficionado. This season, it’s The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design — an impressive, exhaustive, rigorously researched, and beautifully produced compendium of 500 seminal designs…”
  • Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir No. 1.[Paris Review Interview] The Liars’ Club, Karr’s 1995 memoir of her Gothic childhood in a swampy East Texas oil-refining town, won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, sold half a million copies, and made its forty-year-old author, who was then an obscure poet, a literary celebrity…For a writer who has shared herself with the public in three memoirs, Mary Karr is an extraordinarily elusive interview subject. Nearly two years passed between our initial contact, in July of 2007, and our first session.” [Thanks to Pat McNees of Writers and Editors for alerting me to this aerticle.]
  • 9 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The English Language. “I’ve riffled the pages of scores of old dictionaries and ransacked my father’s old army trunks, which now contain hundreds of my journals and notebooks. More than once during my restocking I’ve thought of the startling line in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, where Captain Hook is described: “The man isn’t wholly evil; he has a thesaurus in his cabin.” Recently, I felt even more vindicated about my ardent belief in the beauty of word books when I heard the deadpan comedian Stephen Wright say on late-night television, “I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.”
  • Telling Your Story: The Secrets To Content Branding. “Facts are boring but putting facts into a context with emotion makes them memorable. Stories help you connect with people on a sensory level…The late Steve Sabol, the man behind NFL Films, once said “tell me a fact and I’ll learn, tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

The Best of Monday’s Links Roundup.

These are some of my favorite articles  from last year. If you missed them the first time around, now’s your chance to catch up.

  • A Brief History of Film Title Sequence Design in 2 Minutes. “In his graduation project, an absolutely brilliant motion graphics gem, Dutch designer and animator Jurjen Versteeg examines the history of the title sequence through an imagined documentary about the designers who revolutionized this creative medium.”
  • A Crash Course in Marketing With Stories. “If you want your marketing to really sizzle, if you want people to remember it, you need to turn your marketing messages into stories. I’ve broken down the classical elements of story below so you can begin to think like a storyteller, and make your marketing messages stick.”
  • 10 Essential Books on Typography. “Whether you’re a professional designer, recreational type-nerd, or casual lover of the fine letterform, typography is one of design’s most delightful frontiers, an odd medley of timeless traditions and timely evolution in the face of technological progress. Today, we turn to 10 essential books on typography, ranging from the practical to the philosophical to the plain pretty.”
  • When Data Disappears. “…if we’re going to save even a fraction of the trillions of bits of data churned out every year, we can’t think of digital preservation in the same way we do paper preservation. We have to stop thinking about how to save data only after it’s no longer needed, as when an author donates her papers to an archive. Instead, we must look for ways to continuously maintain and improve it. In other words, we must stop preserving digital material and start curating it.”
  • Selling My Mother’s Dresses. “Some of my favorite things — including the sundress I’m wearing today and the Winnie the Pooh car that Jay is pushing our daughter in — are from someone else’s life. I find no joy in shopping at regular stores anymore…I love trying to sniff out a memory from a bud vase or a favorite song from a case of L.P.’s. The stains and broken switches, the bend in the knee of an old pair of jeans. Sometimes I just want to look at how many Mason jars one person can collect and imagine what they might’ve held. It’s comforting to know that someone has breathed and laughed inside a sweater before me. That I am part of a continuum.” [Thanks to Mary M. Harrison of Morning Glory Memoirs for alerting me to this item.]
  • Tracking Personal Histories Across Time. “Sander Koot’s series Back from the Future is a pairing of new portraits of the individual with an older picture of that person from years past.. he only photographs individuals after interviewing them. “In this project, I ask people to find old portraits of themselves, of which they have good memories,” says Koot. “When talking to them about the picture, you see them reliving the happy moment. Only after I know all the details about the past of that picture, (do) we start the shoot.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

Happy Civic Holiday to my Canadian compatriots. Being in a holiday mood, I’ve selected some summery items for this Monday’s Link Roundup. Two of my favorite articles are My summer memories are up for sale and Why road trips rule over resorts. And if you can’t get away, then the next best thing might be to read a travel memoir. Check out some good reading at A World On The Page: Five Great Travel Memoirs.

  • The Science of How We Came to Live and Breathe Stories. “Stories aren’t merely essential to how we understand the world — they are how we understand the world…In The Storytelling Animal, educator and science writer Jonathan Gottschall traces the roots, both evolutionary and sociocultural, of the transfixing grip storytelling has on our hearts and minds, individually and collectively.”
  • Memories, Lighting the Corners of Minds. “I went to the annual conference of biography writers last year in Washington DC…I soon realized how much biographers depend on written records, and how often those written records are letters. Letters that have gone the way of the dodo bird in our new electronic world…I realized personal memoirs would be the only written records of what it was like to grow up in West Virginia before electricity. Before a lot of things. Someday in the not too distant future, if you want to know what it was like “back then” these memoirs will be the only way to know.Thus,these memoirs can serve a much greater social purpose than simply memoir. They are the written records of how we lived. It isn’t an indulgence to write them. It’s a social imperative. There may not be a lot of people who want to read these memoirs. There may only be one. But that one might be a historian doing research in the far distant future and if we want them, those kids of ours, to know what it was like, we have to tell them now.”
  • Why road trips rule over resorts. “Road trips have inherent downsides – people throwing up, bad hotels, children fighting in the back seat – but the odd thing is that as people grow into adults, they remember this with fondness. Those difficulties are put into a sentimental context of family memory,” says Susan Sessions Rugh, a history professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, who wrote the book Are We There Yet? The Golden Age of American Family Vacations.”
  • Historians discover medieval banking records hidden under coats of arms. “A rare accounting document, half-concealed beneath a coat of arms design, has revealed the activities of Italian bankers working in early 15th century London, decades before the capital became a financial powerhouse. The discovery was made by economic historians at Queen Mary, University of London.”
  • My summer memories are up for sale. “My Mum sent me a real-estate listing today. It turns out that my uncle is selling the old family cottage where we spent our summers when I was a kid. And since nobody in the family can afford to buy it, pretty soon it will no longer be a part of the family at all.”
  • Are You Brilliant At Marketing? “Are you brilliant at marketing? We think you can be., We’ve assembled some great links meant to boost your marketing creativity. Check them out and see how “brilliant” you can become.”
  • A World On The Page: Five Great Travel Memoirs. “Let’s stay put this summer. Let’s live other lives from the comfort of our couches. Crank the AC and allow these five books to take you to other worlds. But be warned: These are dangerous places, the underbellies of our great cities. You’ll meet unforgettable characters: a future first lady, a one-booted hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail, a young Angela Davis. You’ll encounter beauty, bravery, chilling strangeness — and you won’t even have to take off your Slanket.”

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email.