Sharing the Extraordinary in Your Ordinary Life

I was speaking to a friend recently about books, telling her about my love for memoirs. “Oh!” she said, excitedly. “Have you read Katherine Graham’s autobiography? I just loved that book!”

Indeed I had, and we talked about the amazing life that Ms. Graham had led.

“What other memoirs have you read?” my friend asked.


For several moments, I searched my brain but I kept coming up blank. I’m sure I’ve read close to 100 autobiographies. Why couldn’t I remember a few to share?

And then I understood.

Most of the memoires I’ve read are not about famous people. Sure – now that I’ve gone back and reviewed my log – I’ve read a handful of titles by known public figures. Katherine Graham, Michael J. Fox, Barack Obama. But their volumes are the exceptions. Most of the memoirs on my list are authored by ordinary people who have had extraordinary experiences (like we all have). I remember their stories, but, over the years, their non-public names have faded in my memory.

Obviously Katherine Graham had an amazing tale to tell. No doubt about it. But so did Asne Seierstad, who told of life in Afghanistan after September 11. And so did Deborah Feldman, who rebelled against her Chasidic Jewish upbringing. And so did Shelby Smoak, who grew up with hemophilia and HIV.

The list goes on.

Everybody has a story. Yours may not sell as well as Michael J. Fox’s did, but that’s not the point. The point is you have one.

The point is to share it.