Book Review: Buy Yourself the Fscking Lillies

This was my easy vacation read. I really need a book tree to keep track of how these lovely stories come into my purview. This was on my wish list, but I found it at the book sale. Thanks book sale! Useful and funny/sad self help advice.

I took two pieces of advice to heart. Treat yourself kindly. Buy the lilies if they make your week. She mentioned that she cleaned her bathroom sink every night with some wonderful smelling cleaner. I bought some lavender spray and made this a habit. Small perfection.

If someone treats you poorly, it is not a reflection of you. Sometimes people are doing the best they can, not the best you wish they could.

A Running Reading List

At the end of every year, my mother and my friend Ann and I exchange our yearly reading lists. As a result, I have my lists from 2001 onward. Enjoy. Find yourself a good read.

Book List


Marie Rudisill – The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote

James Carville – Stinkin’ The Case for Loyalty

James Carville – And the Horse He Rode In On

James Carville – We’re Right and Their Wrong

Henry Miller – Moloch: Or This Gentile World

William Wiser – The Twilight Years: Paris in the 1930s

Peggy Guggenheim – Confessions Of An Art Addict

David Mamet – Writing in Restaurants

Louis Auchincloss – Woodrow Wilson

Marie Gordon – Joan of Arc

Douglas Brinkley – Rosa Parks

Deborah Tannen – The Argument Culture

Zora Neal Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God

Slavenka Drakulic – Care Europe : Life After Communism

Al Franken – Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot

John Howard Griffin – Black Like Me

Milan Kundera – Testaments Betrayed

Steven Dunderson & Rob Morris – House and Home

Vincent Bugliosi – The Betrayal of America

Gerry Spence – How to Argue and Win Every Time

Milan Kundera – The Farewell Party

Sherwin B. Nuland –  Leonardo de Vinci

Alan M. Dershowitz – The Best Defense

Slavenka Krakulic – How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed

Eric Schlosser – Fast Food Nation

George H. Smith – Atheism: The Case Against God

Alan M. Dershowitz – Letters to a Young Lawyer

Alan M. Dershowitz – Reasonable Doubts

Michael Kingsley, ed. The Slate Diaries

Michael Paterniti – Driving Mr. Albert


Russel Martin – Beethoven’s Hair

Hermann Hesse – Steppenwolf

David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day

Dave Edmonds & John Eidenow – Wittgenstein’s Poker

David Sedaris – Naked

V.S. Naipaul – Among the Believers

V.S. Naipaul – Beyond Belief

Chris Matthews – Now Let Me Tell You What I Really Think

Michael Ondaatje – Anil’s Ghost

V.S. Naipaul – A Turn in the South

Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning

Andrea Tone – Devices and Desires

David Sedaris – Barrel Fever

Christopher Hitchens – Letters to a Young Contrarian

Alain de Botton – The Art of Travel

Adam Haslett – You Are Not A Stranger Here

Michael Shermer – How We Believe

V.S. Naipaul – India: A Wounded Civilization

Colson Whitehead – John Henry Days


Penelope Hughes Hallett – The Immortal Dinner

Normal F. Cantor – In the Wake of the Plague: the Black Death and the World It Made

Greg Critser – Fat Land

Jim Collins – Good to Great

Candace Bushnell – Sex and the City

Samantha Weinberg – A Fish Caught in Time

Eric Schlosser – Reefer Madness

Michael Neumeier – Brand Gap

Simon Winchester – The Map that Changed the World

Frederick Lewis Allen – Only Yesterday

V.S. Naipaul – India: A Million Mutinies Now

Alexa Albert – Brothel: Mustang Ranch and It’s Women

James Laxer – Discovering America

Al Franken – Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Robert Darnton: George Washington’s False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century

Don Delillo – White Noise

Jessica Warner – Craze: Gin and Debauchery in the Age of Reason

Simon Winchester – Krakatoa

Tony Horwitz – Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War


Bill Bryson – In a Sunburned Country

Stanley Weintraub – Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

Augusten Burroughs – Dry: A Memoir

Augusten Burroughs – Running with Scissors

Tony Horwitz – Baghdad Without a Map

Bill Bryson – Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

Bill Bryson – Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States

Mary Roach – Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Bill Bryson – Notes from a Small Island

Peter Mayle – A Year in Provence

David Lamb – The Arabs: Journey Beyond the Mirage

Audre Dubas, III – The House of Sand and Fury

Bill Bryson, ed. – the Best American Travel Writing, 2000

Geraldine Brooks – Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

Suze Orman – The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom

Cynthia and Anna Benson – Firm for Life

David Sedaris – Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Ian Frazier – The Best American Travel Writing, 2003

Tim Cahill – Hold the Enlightenment

Jan v. White – Editing by Design

Ken Cato – Design by Thinking

Milan Kundera – Ignorance

Frederick Lewis Allen – Since Yesterday, 1929-1939

Tim Cahill – Pecked to Death by Ducks

Tony Howitz – Blue Latitudes

Sean O’Relly, ed.  – Hyenas Laughed At Me and Now I Know Why

Sarah Vowell – The Partly Cloudy Patriot

Pete McCarthy – McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in the West of Ireland

Sarah Vowell – Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World

Sarah Vowell – Radio On: A Listener’s Diary

W. Hampton Sides – Stomping Ground: A Pilgrim’s Progress Through Eight American Subcultures

Hank Stuever – Off Ramp: Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere

Steve Almond – Candy Freak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

Augusten Burroughs – Magical Thinking

Slavenka Drakulic – The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of War

Nick Flynn – Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Paul Theroux – The Best American Travel Writing, 2001


Hollis Gillespie – Confessions of a Recovering Slut

James Frey – A Million Little Pieces

The Best of Outside: The First 20 Years

Tim Cahill – Jaguars Ripped My Flesh

William Bridges – Transitions

Dalai Lama – The Art of Happiness

Melissa Bank – The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Jeanette Winterson – The Passion

Jennifer Gonnerman – Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett

Garrison Keiller – Homegrown Democrat

Alain de Botton – Status Anxiety


Alice Sebold – Lucky

James Frey – My Friend Leonard

Azar Nafisi – Reading Lotlita in Tehran

Pico Iyer – The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home

Hollis Gillespie – Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch : Tales from a Bad Neighborhood

Pico Iyer – Sun After Dark: Flights Into the Foreign

Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita

Willa Cather – Death Comes for the Archbishop

Pearl S. Buck – The Good Earth

Robin Williams – Web Design Workshop

Melissa Bank – The Wonder Spot

George Carlin – When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops

Greg Critser – Generation Rx

Chuck Palahniuk – Diary

Laurie Notaro – Autobiography of a Fat Bride

Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner

Chuck Palahniuk – Stranger than Fiction

Bruce Robinson – The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman

Tim Cahill – Road Fever

Julia Scheeres – Jesus Land


Bill Bryson – A Walk in the Woods

Hampton Sides – Americana

Tim Cahill, ed. – The Best American Travel Writing, 2006

Augusten Burroughs – Possible Side Effects

Frances Mayes – Under the Tuscan Sun

William Faulkner – As I Lay Dying

Jacqueline Cangro, ed. – The Subway Chronicles: Scenes from Life in New York

Sarah Turnbull – Almost French

Norah Vincent – Self-Made Man

Diablo Cody – Candy Girl: A year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper

Frances Mayes – Bella Tuscany

Irvin Yalom – Momma and the Meaning of Life: Tales of Psychotherapy

Alexandra Fuller – Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

Tom Negrino and Dori Smith – Macromedia Dreamweaver 8

Emma Larkin – Finding George Orwell in Burma

Marilyn Johnson – The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries

Asne Seierstad – The Bookseller of Kabul

James C. Hunter – The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen – Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death

Jhumpa Lahiri – Interpreter of Maladies

Peter Mayle – Acquired Tastes

Howard Schultz – Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

Eric Hansen – The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer

Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Eric Hansen – Strangers in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo

Eric Hansen – Orchid Fever: A Horticulture Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy

Rachel Dewoskin – Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China

Irvin D. Yalom – Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy


Graham Greene: The Quiet American

Tim Cahill – Pass the Butterworms: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered

Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat, Pray, Love

Julian Barnes – Flaubert’s Parrot

Adam Gopnick – Paris to the Moon

Anthony Bourdain – Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Graham Greene – The End of the Affair

Christopher Hunt – Waiting for Fidel

Patrick Symmes – Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend

Paul Loeb and Suzanne Hlavacek – Smarter Than You think

Patricia B. McConnell – The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs

Miranda July – No One Belongs Here More Than You

J. Maarten Troost – The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

J. Maarten Troost – Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu

David Sedaris – When You Are Engulfed in Flames


Susan Orlean, ed. – The Best American Travel Writing, 2007

Chuck Palahniuk – Choke

Tim Cahill – Lost in My Own Backyard: A Walk in Yellowstone

Elizabeth Castro – HTML, XHTML, and Css

Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns

Burkhard Bilger – Noodling for Flatheads: Moonshine, Monster Catfish, and the Other Southern Comforts

Chuck Thompson – Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer

Eric Hansen – Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea

Pete Jordan – Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States

Cecily Von Ziegesar – Gossip Girl

Barack Obama – Dreams of My Father

Anthony Bourdain, ed. The Best American Travel Writing, 2008

Jeffrey Eugenides – Middlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides – The Virgin Suicides

Mike Daisy – 21 Dog Years: Doing Time at


Katherine Ulrich – Flash CS4 Professional

Cesar Millan – Be the Pack Leader

Henry Miller – The Rosy Crucifixion 1: Sexus

Henry Miller – The Rosy Crucifixion 2: Plexus

Henry Miller – The Rosy Crucifixion 3: Nexus

Rosamund and Benjamin Zander – The Art of Possibility

Alain de Botton – How Proust Can Change Your Life (second read)

Alain de Botton – The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Alain de Botton – The Architecture of Happiness

Lauren Weber – In Cheap We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue

Kelly Cutrone – If You Have to Cry, Go Outside

J. Maarten Troost – Lost on Planet China

Jon Krakauer – Into the Wild

Cesar Millan – Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well Behaved Dog

Michael Schaffer – One Nation Under Dog: America’s Love Affair with our Dogs


Chuck Thompson – To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism

Alexandra Horowitz – Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know

Gary Dell’Abate – They Call Me Baba Booey

Cesar Millan – Be the Pack Leader

Sloane Crosley – I Was Told There’d Be Cake

Randy Kennedy – Subwayland: Adverturns in the World Beneath New York

Bernard-Henri Levy – American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

Jonathan Franzen – How to Be Alone: Essays

Stefan Bechtel – Dogtown: Tales of Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Redemption

Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers: The Story of Success

Tim Clissfold – Mr. China: A Memoir

Stephanie Meyer – Breaking Dawn

Patton Oswalt – Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland

Anthony Bourdain – Medium Raw

David Sedaris – Holidays on Ice

Sloane Crosley – How Did You Get This Number

Stephanie Meyer – Twilight

Stephanie Meyer – New Moon

Stephanie Meyer – Eclipse

Mishna Wolff – I’m Down: A Memoir

Carl Hoffman – The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World via It’s Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Planes, and Trains

Michael Tonello – Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Handbag

Adam Carolla – In 50 Years, We’ll All Be Dead

Jillian Lauren – Some Girls: My Life in a Harem

Mark Bryan, Julia Cameron, and Catherine Allen – The Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon – Twelve Weeks to Creative Freedom

Frances Mayes, ed. – The Best American Travel Writing, 2002


Virginia and Lee McAlester – A Field Guide to American Houses

Kelly Cutrone – Normal Gets You Nowhere

Tina Fey – Bossypants

Jeroen Van Bergeijk – My Mercedes is Not for Sale

Mireille Guiliano – French Women for all Seasons

Adam Carolla – Not Taco Bell Material

Neil Steinberg – Drunkard: A Hard Drinking Life

Malcolm Gladwell – What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

Chuck Klosterman – Eating the Dinosaur


Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. – For the Love of a Dog

Miranda July – It Chooses You

Suzanne Clothier – If a Dog’s Prayers Were Answered, Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening our Relationship with Dogs

W. Timothy Gallwey – The Inner Game of Tennis

Tim Gunn – A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style

Michelle Nevis and James Nevis – Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York

Sloane Crosley, ed. – The Best American Travel Writing, 2011

Jonah Lehrer – Proust Was a Neuroscientist

Jon Ronson – The Psychopath Test

NY Transit Museum – Subway Style: 100 Years of Architecture and Design in the NYC Subway

Allee Sparberg Alexiou – The Flatiron

Chuck Thompson – Better Off Without Them: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession

Malcolm Gladwell – Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking


Stephen Budianky – The Truth About Dogs

Marc Maron – Attempting Normal

David Sedaris – Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

Patti Smith – Just Kids

Andre Agassi – Open

Daniel Drennan – The New York Diaries

J. Maarten Troost – Headhunters on My Doorstep: A True Treasure Island Ghost Story

Sophia Amoruso – #Girlboss

Rosecrans Baldwin – Paris, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down


Christopher Winn – I Never Knew That About New York

Simon Doonan – The Asylum

Olivier Magny – Stuff Parisians Like

Jon Ronson – So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

Benny Lewis – Fluent in 3 Months

David Epstein – The Sports Gene

Elizabeth Cline – Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion


Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin – Skinny Bitch

Nina Garcia – The Little Black Book of Style

Patrick Smith – Ask the Pilot

Daniel Goleman – Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last

Bill Bishop – Going to the Net: Winning the Psychological Game of Tennis (And Life)

Simon Sinek – Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Sam Quinones – Dreamland: True Tales of America’s Opiate Epidemic

William Alexander – Flirting with French: How A Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart

Fredrick Eklund – The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone

Julie Barlow – The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Code of French Conversation Revealed


Sebastian Junger – Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Jon Ronson – Them

Adam Grant – Originals: How Non-Conformists Made the World

Yann Martel – Life of Pi

Michael Lewis – Boomerang: Travels in the Third World

William Skidelsky – Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession

Maria Sharapova – Unstoppable

Cheryl Strayed – Wild

David Greene – Midnight in Siberia

Mary Roach – Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Dan Harris – 10% Happier

Gabrielle Bernstein – the Universe Has Your Back


Thomas L. Friedman – Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration

Melissa Milgrom – Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy

Robert Wright – Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment

Penny Garfinkle – Buddha or Bust: In Search of Truth, Memory, Happiness, and The Man Who Found Them All

Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman – Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit and Be A Whole Lot Happier

Mark Epstein, MD – Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness

Vivian Gornick – The Old Woman and the City: A Memoir

Daniel Pink – Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Maryn McKenna – Big Chicken: How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed The Way The World Eats

David Foster Wallace – String Theory

Austin Kleon – Steal Like an Artist

Adam Gopnik – Through the Children’s Gate: At Home In New York

Lee Gutkind, ed. – The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol 2

Dana Thomas – Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster

James Blake – Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life

Rafael Nadal – Rafa

Sian Beilock – Choke! What The Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To

Daniel Pink – A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainedness Will Rule the World

Brad Warner – Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye

Robert Sullivan – Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Brad Warner – Don’t Be A Jerk and Other Practical Advice from Dogan, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master

Shawn Smucker – Building a Life Out of Words


L. Jon Wertheim – Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played

Brad Warner – Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth About Reality

Rowan Ricardo Phillips – The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey

Mark Epstein, MD – Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself

Patrick Mouratoglou – The Coach

Jake Dobkin – Ask A Native New Yorker: Hard Earned Advice on Surviving and Thriving in the Big City

Judy Murray – Knowing the Score: My Family and Our Tennis Story

Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson – Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food

Brad Warner – Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate

Carrie Brownstein – Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir

Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers: The Story of Success

Arthur Jeon – City Dharma: Keeping Your Cool in the Chaos


Malcolm Gladwell – Blink

Piper Kerman – Orange is the New Black

Tom Jokinen – Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker in Training

Casey Schwartz – Attention: A Love Story

Elizabeth Wurtzel – Prozac Nation

Wayne Koesternbaum – Andy Warhol

Trevor Noah – Born A Crime

Michael Rips – The Golden Flea: A Story of Obsession and Collecting

Hunter S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

Louise Bernikow – Dreaming in Libro: How A Good Dog Tamed a Bag woman

Sloane Crosley – How Did You Get This Number

Michael Arceneaux – I Don’t Want to Die Poor

Stephen King – On Writing

Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Chuck Klosterman – Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird

Stieg Larsson – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

David Sedaris – Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002

Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Played With Fire


Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Hillary Allen – Out and Back: A Runner’s Story of Survival Against All Odds

William B. Helmreich – The Manhattan Nobody Knows: An Urban Walking Guide

Olivia Laing – The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Black Gopnik – Warhol

Rosecrans Baldwin – Everything Now: Lessons from the City State of Los Angeles

Jonathan Safran Foer – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Ben Rhodes – The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House

Peter L. Bergen – Manhunt: The 10 Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

John Steinbeck – Cannery Row

Thomas Dyja – New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess, and Transformation

Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone – Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World

Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Phil Knight – Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Michael Pollan – This is Your Mind on Plants

David Sedaris – A Carnival of Snakery

Gerald Marzorati – Seeing Serena

Megan Rapinoe – One Life

Anthony Bourdain – Kitchen Confidential (second read)

Michael Pollan – In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Michael Pollan – How To Change Your Mind

Rebecca Solnit – Men Explain Things to Me


Emily Rapp Black – Frida Kahlo and My Left Leg

Joshua Foer – Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Scott Berkun – The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work

Martha Wells – All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries

Alfons Kaiser – Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion

Pietra Rivoli – Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and the Politics of World Trade.

Sarah Vowell, ed. The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2017

Brad Warner – Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen

David Shaftel and Caitlin Thompson, eds. Racquet: The Book

Meg Bowles, et. al, eds. How To Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from the Moth

David Sedaris – Happy-Go-Lucky

Bruce Mowday – Stealing Wyeth

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz – Dr. Mutter’s Marvels

Malcolm Gladwell – Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

Stephen King – It

Anthony Doerr – All the Light We Cannot See

Dave Eggers, ed. – The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2002

Alexandra Horowitz – On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation

Michael Booth – Three Tigers, One Mountain: A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan

Claire Wilcox – Patch Work: A Life Amongst Clothes

Norman Ohler – Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich

Michelle Zauner – Crying in H Mart

Robert I Sutton, Ph.D. – The No Asshole Rule: Building A Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t

Richard Russo – The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers, and Life

Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus – Love People, Use Things

Bruce Levin – Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary, Fighter for Racial Justice

Catherine Burns, ed. – The Moth

Charles Leerhsen – Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain


Jennifer 8. Lee – The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food

Camper English – Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, and Spirits

Tori Dunlap – Financial Feminist

James Clear – Atomic Habits

Johann Hari – Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention – and How to Think Deeply Again

Mika Brzezinski – Know Your Value – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth

Salman Rushdie – Joseph Anton

Tiffany Aliche – Get Good with Money

Bee Wilson – Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

Amor Towles – A Gentleman in Moscow

Greg McKeown – Effortless: Make it Easier to do what Matters Most

William Middleton – Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life of Karl Lagerfeld

Greg McKeown – Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Todd Henry – The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice

Erik Larson – The Devil in the White City

Haruki Murakami – Novelist as a Vocation

John Higgs – William Blake vs. The World

Austin Kleon – Show Your Work

Marie Kondo – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Cheryl Strayed – Tiny Beautiful Things

Austin Kleon – Keep Going

Jonah Lehrer – Imagine: How Creativity Works

Tom Wolfe – The Kingdom of Speech

Tom Vitale – In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain

Allie Brosh – Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

Rebecca Solnit. – Recollections of My Nonexistence

Anthony Bourdain – The Last Interview and Other Conversations

Yasunari Kawabata – First Snow on Fuji

Susan Cain – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Tara Schuster – Buy Yourself the Fscking Lilies and Other Rituals to Fix Your Life

Twyla Tharp – The Creative Habit

Lauren Hough – Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Part – Essays

Debbie Millman – How To Think Like a Great Graphic Designer

Jill Lepore – The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Gary Keller – The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Tony Tetro – Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World’s Greatest Art Forger

Tara Schuster – Glow in the Fscking Dark

Brene Brown – Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Jen Sincero – You Are A Badass

Burton G. Malkiel – A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Yasunari Kawabata – The Master of Go

Samantha Irby – We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays

Elizabeth Gilbert – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

David Sedaris – The Best of Me

Stephanie Elizondo Griest – Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havanna

Zeba Blay – Care Free Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture

Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow – The Story of Spanish

Samantha Irby – Meaty: Essays

Samantha Irby – Wow, No Thank You: Essays

Lulu Miller – Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life

Jennifer Ackerman – The Genius of Birds

Samantha Irby – Quietly Hostile: Essays

Jena Friedman – Not Funny: Essays on Life, Comedy, Culture, Etc.

Jenny Lawson – Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

James Hamblin – Clean: The New Science of Skin and the Beauty of Doing Less

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Be Useful – Seven Tools for Life

Stephanie Land – Maid

Gregory Gibson – Hubert’s Freaks: The Rare Book Dealer, The Times Square Talker, and the Lost Photos of Diane Arbus

Jon Fosse – Scenes for a Childhood

Craig Taylor – New Yorkers: A City and Its People in Our Time

Julie Zhuo – The Making of a Manager: What to do when Everyone Looks to You

Philip Mark Plotch – Last Subway: The Long Wait for the Next Train in New York City

Anton Wormann – Free Houses in Japan: The True Story of How I Make Money DIY Renovating Abandoned Homes

George Watsky – How to Ruin Everything: Essays

Laura Belgray – Tough Titties: On Living Your Best Life When You’re the F-ing Worst

Mark Epstein, M.D. – The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life


Marie Kondo – Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

Nora Ephron – I Feel Bad About My Neck

Joan Didion – The Year of Magical Thinking

Augusten Burroughs – A Wolf at the Table

Peter Kaminsky – Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them

Jonathan Van Ness – Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love

Tan France – Naturally Tan

Jonathan Van Ness – Love that Story : Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life

Margareta Magnusson – The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Mary Norris – Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Benjamin Lorr – The Secret Life of Groceries

Lindy West – Shrill

Chuck Palahniuk – Consider This: Moments in my Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different

Susan Orlean – The Library

Chuck Palahniuk – Non-Fiction

Kara Swisher – Burn Book

Robin S. Rosenberg, Ph.D. and Shannon O’Neill – The Psychology of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

James Patterson & Matt Eversmann – The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians: True Stories of the Magic of Reading

Chuck Palahniuk – Fugitives and Refugees

Padma Lakshmi – Love, Loss, and What We Ate

Elizabeth Lesser – Cassandra: When Women Are Storytellers, The Human Story Changes

Salman Rushdie – Knife: Meditations After An Attempted Murder

Ross Perlin – Language City: The Fight to Preserve Endangered Mother Tongues in New York

Emily Farris – I’ll Just be Five More Minutes (And Other Tales from my ADHD Brain)

Robin Nagle – Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City

Liz Moody – 100 Ways to Change Your Life: The Science of Leveling Up Health, Happiness, Relationships, and Success

Peter Godfrey -Smith – Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

Laurie Woolever – Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography

Matthew Vollmer – Permanent Exhibit

Dolly Alderton – Dear Dolly: Collected Wisdom

Simon Doonan – The Asylum

Deirdre Mask – The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

Karin Muller – Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa

Lawrence Wright – The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9-11

Susan Orlean – On Animals

Baek Sehee – I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki

2022 Year in Review

January: While few snow storms complicate winter, a major poultry disease hits my employer and makes this a tragic time for our customers.

February: Cold with little snow. Poultry disease continues. Uncertainty continues.

March: I say goodbye to a good friend who dies suddenly. My tennis community comes together to grieve and celebrate a life well lived. My husband and I meet John and Giselle Fetterman and begin to eagerly back their campaign.

April: Spring arrives. My car gets towed from my tennis club. An omen of things to come. I make another video for my employer and make some new friends in the process. Our Friday night tennis social expands, and I meet more new friends.

May: We go to Pittsburgh for a three game Pirates home stand, and my husband starts suffering from a mystery illness. I begin organizing regular breakfast meetings with dear friends. I buy an espresso machine, which is one of my favorite purchases ever. I play a charity tournament with a dear friend.

June: My mom comes to visit, and we visit as many bookstores as possible, make cappuccino every day, and spend time in PHL, Adamstown, Bethlehem, and Chadds Ford. She buys me more plants. Husband goes into the hospital and begins his recovery. I say goodbye to my 14-year-old bulldog, Pom. I attend WordCamp Montclair and swing by Bethlehem for a second time on the way home. I can’t get enough.

Miss you, Pom. I’ll love you forever.

July: I play a holiday tournament with a dear friend. I attend a weekend tennis camp and learn some new tactics. My husband continues his recovery, and we welcome a new bulldog, Nellie Nell. I start growing plants in the huge windows in my employer’s office.

August: So begins Cher’s BEST MONTH EVAH! I enjoy the weather and hours and hours of tennis at the Koser Tennis Tournament and the US Open. I finally get to see Sara Errani, Nick Kyrgios, and Rafael Nadal play.

September: I travel to September for Word Camp US!! My parents both come to visit, and my mom and I go back to PHL for a jammed packed fun few days. We tour the Rosenbach and eat chocolate croissants in Rittenhouse Square.

October: My car breaks down in Allentown and gets towed again. Can you see a pattern? My Baby Cow gets diagnosed with cancer. My husband and I see David Sedaris speak in Gettysburg, and I get to meet him when he signs my books. I start tracking all my food and making lifestyle changes.

November: We travel to NYC, and my 10-game winning streak continues at Met Life Stadium. I’m the NY Jet’s good luck charm! We stay in the flower district for an unusually warm few days and have leisurely breakfasts at L’Express. I manage to hit a 50% off sale at my favorite thrift store on 17th Street. #heaven John Fetterman becomes the junior senator from PA. I read more about minimalism and continue changing habits.

December: We meet up with our best friends in PHL for an amazing day. I lose my phone on Amtrak on the way home and get it back two days later. It’s my Christmas miracle! I have a health challenge and minor surgery, which results in a black eye. I tell people I got into a fight. My car dies for good, and I buy a 2023 model to replace it.

Hold your friends close. Remember things are just things. Spend your time wisely.

Goodbye, Sweet Volvo. I will miss you.
Welcome, Moshu. I’m looking forward to our adventures together.

Export PDF error in InDesign

I didn’t find a lot of help with this issue, so I am putting in here in the event this solution is of service.

I encountered an error when exporting to pdf from InDesign. “Error encountered while reading JPEG image.”

What worked was exporting each page as a jpeg and seeing which one wouldn’t export.

Then, I opened the jpegs on that page until I found one that wouldn’t open in Photoshop. I’m not sure how the file was corrupted, but it was. Finding the original file and placing it back in InDesign worked.

Slides for all

In mid-October, my husband and I began our regular visits to NYC to attend NY Jets games in nearby New Jersey. As usual, we booked a hotel within short walking distance of L’Express, our favorite breakfast haunt on 20th and Park Ave. 

This week’s hotel choice was a new 42-story tower on 24th street. We were on the 10th floor, and therefore, had to take one of the four, later reduced to three, elevators in operation. 

When I’m on a lower floor, I just take the stairs. 

As we were waiting for an elevator down, it struck me how many stairs there would be in the event of a fire, and then I thought back to the City Museum in St. Louis. This hodgepodge isn’t really a museum so much as an interactive art installation, and one of their draws is a series of huge indoor slides that start near the roof. 

Could slides be installed to take fire evacuees to the ground level? I think you could build them to fit in a stairwell. Sure there would be some accidents, and you’d get a bit head of steam rolling if you went down 42 floors. However, you could also ensure that the handicapped and disabled could use them. They’re pretty easy to use, no explanation is required, you do not have to be propelled by legs or arms, and each floor could be attached to the main slide allowing entry at every level. 

Slides at the City Museum in St. Louis

Naomi’s Shoes

I am a complete sucker for sneakers. I love them. They’re my favorite thing to wear. I even have sneakers I just wear in my house – never outside. I generally like adidas the best. I think they’re the best quality. However, Nike’s design is always something to behold.

I’m really digging these new Nike Air Zoom Turbo designs. They were worn by Naomi Osaka at this year’s US Open. They retail for well over $100. I found this pair barely used on Poshmark for $20 + shipping.

Osaka collaborated with Nike on an entire collection including a version of these beauties that she’s wearing in Australia this season. Tennis Channel zoomed in on them during a warmup tournament. Look closely. The back of the sneakers is hair calf.

Sneaker Freaker has the full story. These were only available in Japan for Nike members. “Dressed predominantly in white, the upper is highlighted with a bright orange Swoosh and a playful graphic of Maneki Neko (a Japanese figurine of a cat believed to bring good luck) carrying a tennis racquet. Look at the heels and you’ll spot ‘Osaka’ in Japanese characters painted on an oval, gold coin-like patch, which nods to the koban coin often held by Maneki Neko. Another nod of the spiritual cat comes on the tongue in the form of a red belled collar and green scarf.”

These beauties were only available in Japan for Nike members.

Tab titles in PDFs in WordPress

On many of the corporate sites that I built and maintain, I load our newsletters as pdfs in WordPress’ media library. When I opened those as their own tab, the tab opens with a different name in it. I thought this was a setting in WordPress, but it is not. It’s the properties panel in Acrobat.

You can find the properties panel in the file menu or access it with CTRL D or CMD D.

Now that I found the problem, I am actually not going to change the existing pdfs as this would involve reloading them and breaking the existing links or setting up redirects. I’m about to redo this site, so I can address the issue on rebuild.

I’m documenting it here in the event someone else has this issue.

The properties panel in Acrobat will contain information that will populate the tab of your WordPress site. Take note!

I Built an Archive and Wrote a History Book. You Can Too. The Thought Process

In a previous post, I laid out the process for building an archive, researching, writing, and designing a corporate history book. In this post, I’d like to lay out the thought process for those that are considering the project. As I said previously, this process works for a corporate history or almost any project of this nature.

The Why

For any project, you need a reason. You’re about to spend (or pay someone else to spend) a lot of time building an archive and writing your history. What do you hope to get in return?

For a corporate history, do you feel your customers will value knowing more about you? Will what you have to say influence their decision to work with you or bind them to your company and its products? Is a company history “sticky” in your line of work?

For your team members, do you feel they will value knowing more about the history of the company they serve? Will it increase engagement? Will it aid in recruiting new talent? If so, why? How is your history relevant to your desirability as an employer?

Is it a legacy project? If you own a family business, is it intrinsically important to you to document the history for future generations?

Is this book part of your sustainability effort? Could looking at where you’ve come, what obstacles you’ve faced, and where you landed inform where you are going as a company? If you’re a privately-held business, a small business, or a family business, there is a good chance that your history isn’t recorded. Could a record help inform your future endeavors?

When I was working on my book project, I had to cover a devastating fire that destroyed a warehouse full of goods in the 1950s. Every family member I spoke with mentioned the fire. They all remembered where they were and how traumatic it was as an event as the cause was ruled to be arson.

However, they also remember how the business recovered. There was a period of mourning followed by a flurry of rebuilding with an eye to the future. What was rebuilt served the company better and helped change the direction of the business to where it landed today. The ownership went from focusing on a small footprint to thinking much bigger in terms of the scale of the customers they would serve.

There may be lessons to learn from the past in how you respond to future setbacks. It may be helpful to document changes in your industry and how your company adapted and evolved. Those same abilities to shift and change could be useful as you consider the future business environment and how you’ll meet future challenges.

Finding your motivation and the payoff before starting a project will help guide the project and ensure the book functions as you envisioned. It will also help guide the decisions you make with your creative team about the cost, time spent, and look of the final deliverable.

Should You Hire Someone

During my time working on this project, I met a freelance consultant who had done a company history and archive for McDonald’s. All her interviews were transcribed, and part of her process was to present a bound book of the interviews to each client she worked with. If you really just want to capture the memories, then this might be a good avenue for you. Search for an archivist near you.

If you do not wish to hire out the project, do you have a team in-house with the time to devote to it? See my prior post for the time estimate and consider it before assigning an in-house team. If you have someone great, can you clear their calendar to give them the time to devote to this project? Remember, this work is hard. Don’t burn out your best people by giving them a project of this size in addition to their regular workload. Give them the space to devote to it.

What Should the Book Look Like

The look of the book should help carry its purpose. The look is, essential, part of the message. Do you consider yourself a forward looking company? Then, consider a modern look and feel.

In the course of my work, several people passed along other company histories to me. One was a book celebrating the planning and construction of a new plant. This book, as you might expect, was bound with an integrated dust jacket, was full color, and was printed on glossy paper. The message: We’re growing. Hop aboard as a customer and as a team member. We have somewhere to go.

Another book given to me had an antique effect on the cover and most of the photographs were given a sepia tone effect. This didn’t send a message of a growing company. It spoke to a more conservative time and a reverence for the founders.

I’m not taking a side on the look you choose. Just think about it in reference to the message you want to send.

Who Will Print It

If this is the first time you’ve done a project like this, you’ll want to work with an experience printer who can answer your questions and doesn’t mind you stopping in to look at linen samples, paper samples, or being involved in the production. I, personally, like to spend money in my community, and I was delighted to find a company that could handle our size job locally.

Obviously, if you’re considering printing thousands of copies, you might have to look outside your neighborhood.

Is Digital Your Path

Maybe you’re not thinking print at all. Maybe digital is the right way to go. If so, you’ll save yourself the cost of printing; although, the research, writing, and layout process may be very similar.

If you have video or audio files in your archive, digital may also be the right choice as you can incorporate those elements.

If you decide to do both, it is fairly easy to create an ePub from your print InDesign file. If your book has a lot of pictures and the exact layout is important, you’ll want to consider a type of ePub that preserves the layout. This functions essentially as a web page with everything precisely positioned. If your book is mostly text, your ePub transition will be even easier as the text can flow like a web page around the natural marker of chapters and sections.

Think about both formats, how you’d distribute them, and what they say about your brand. If you’re using this to recruit new team members, the digital format could be put on your web site for easy distribution.


Once you’ve completed the book, how will you distribute it? This is helpful to consider before you start as it could help inform the binding and cost structure of the book. In my case, our costs ran about $20/book for 1,000 copies.

If you spend this amount for this print run, do you have 1,000 people to give them to? Will you give them to your closest customers or your team?

If you’ve spent the money and the time, should you also consider an event to launch the book? If you plan on giving it to customers and prospects, an event might be just the thing to make it feel special and unique. An event could work for either format, but it would be most helpful for a print book. You can tuck them inside a swag bag for your guests.

Shelf Life

When I worked on my project, there was some concern about the shelf life of the book. One volume given to me as a sample was actually the first of two corporate histories produced for a company that was over 100 years old. Think about your history as just that – a point in time. Don’t try to slap in extra pages or get upset when the company changes. Capture your growth for volume two.

This is also a reason why your focus on distribution is important. Get your volumes out there while they matter. Don’t let them gather dust.

Happy book writing.

As always, if you have a question or want to chat, hit me up.

I Built an Archive and Wrote a History Book. You Can Too.

Company history book drafts
This is the stack of paper drafts I had on my desk after the editing process. I let it sit there for months before throwing them out.

In 2019, I finished writing and designing a company history book, which was a project that originally began in 2014. Due to the complexity of the project, I’m going to explain my process here for those that are starting a project like this and need advice. I found little in my journey. The advice below could be adapted for similar complex research, writing, and design projects.


Writing a book is hard. You’ll get attached to the project and the people you meet, but remember, if you’re hired to write a company history, you’re essentially a ghost writer. It’s not personal to you even if it feels like it. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t add this work to your portfolio or make a claim as an author. Don’t worry. You still get to claim the experience, and that’s not nothing.

Archive Building Process

You’re going to need artifacts and lots of them. Start the process by collecting everything you can about the project and organizing it in an archive. You’ll want to organize items in chronological order if possible.

For my project, I had three boxes of photos that I organized in chronological order within the boxes. Each box was then numbered with number one being the oldest photos.

To date photos, it’s helpful to look at the cars in the photos. It’s fairly easy to date a car by year, which will give you a rough idea of the date of the photo.

If you can’t date the cars, consider contacting a car club for the brand in question. They’ll happily give you a hand.

For location photos, I posted several in Facebook groups dedicated to the town where the company was located. The users on the group were very helpful in dating the location photos based on changes in the landscape and their general experience with the area.

I saved all the messages and input I received from these sources to share with the team.

The paper documents were also placed in boxes and organized by year. Some of the paper documents given to me were already in three ring binders in sleeves. I left those intact.

If you’re storing printed material or any material really, you only need a few samples of each item. Your archive is going to be huge, so don’t save a box of brochures, cards, or calendars. You won’t have room.

Digitize everything you can. Digital archives will make it much easier to view and select the material later on. Don’t keep negatives, slides, reel-to-reel, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, or DVDs. If you can’t play them or view them in the future, don’t keep them.

Find a vendor to digitize all your material, and then store it in the cloud. You’ll need a drum scanner to do your slides, and many camera shops have this equipment and can do it for a small fee per slide. If you can, view the material before you commit to digitizing it. Deciding it if is worth keeping first will save your budget.

There were several customer presentations that I did not save as they really didn’t relate to the company’s history.

For the items, take a photo of each item. If you can document the size of the item, do so. For the frames, I documented the size. Then, select a way of organizing this material that makes sense for your project.

For me, I had no way of dating most of the items, so I organized it by type. The company had made several acquisitions and had changed names several times. Those felt like natural breaking points to label the boxes.

Organize all the actual items in a spreadsheet. I made an attempt to organize my spreadsheet by date and type. The columns included the item name, a decade (this may be an educated guess), the image number that corresponded to the item, and the box the item was stored in.

Professional archives will also number each item and attach a tag to each item with the reference number. Porcelain items contain a small label that is attached and then painted over with a clear adhesive. I did not take this extra step, but you may consider it.

Check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s furniture archive in the northwest wing of the museum. It’s located near the American Furniture wing. This space is organized like an archive with climate controlled shelving and furniture placed on open air shelves. You can see the tagging system in action.

This sounds like a lot of work, but once you’re in the process, you will be glad you did this legwork ahead of time.

As you’re organizing your archive, be very deliberate about what you save. If the item is interesting but doesn’t relate to the company you’re profiling, you may not want to keep it. Consider donating it to your local historical society.

Also, do not keep anything that could be considered food. You won’t be in your archive every day, and if you store anything that could be eaten, insects may find it and eat it and everything around it before you know something is amiss. For me, I had a few boxes of old animal feed that I threw out for safety reasons.

If you need help with your archival process, consider contacting your local historical society. Lancaster History was a great help to me in the process. I toured their facility after I had constructed my archive and made some changes based on their suggestions.

Proper Storage

Historical items need special attention due to their age. Store your items in a climate controlled room with speciality boxes and materials. If you are using wooden shelves, be sure to cover them in plexiglass. Many shelving units are constructed with oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood, which are both constructed with glue. Over time, this material breathes, and the fumes can damage your items. I had a local sign vendor make sheets of acrylic to cover the shelves.

The material storage was one change I made after consulting a professional archive. Store your documents and fabrics in acid-free boxes with acid-free tissue paper to prevent discoloration.

You can find quality archival materials at Gaylord.

Getting Started: Interviews

If you’re working with a company, chances are there is at least one individual that will be your primary source material and contact. This person may even have been the individual driving the project. Be sure to find out who this is and start here. You’re going to want to spend a lot of time with this person. They’re also going to be really excited to share their knowledge and the conversation may go everywhere.

Try to start with a general outline of the history desired and then steer your conversation in blocks of time so you don’t miss anything. Be prepared to backtrack frequently to gather all the threads of the story.

One hour blocks of time will provide a wealth of information without exhausting the contributor. If you’re working with executives, chances are they won’t have more than an hour to spare anyway. Write your questions down and ask them in order to ensure you make the most of the time.

Record your conversation. I used the iPhone’s voice memo tool. Be sure to check your device to ensure it is recording and place it close to the speaker. I never used two devices to record, but you may consider it for backup. You don’t want to have to recreate an interview.

You can transcribe it yourself if you have the time. I did some of my own but also relied heavily on Rev.

Read over the transcript carefully to prepare for your next interview and determine other interview subjects.

If you have to contact outside resources, be sure to tell them you need their time for a history book. Most people will be happy to help. For my interview subjects, I could promise them both a book and an invitation to a book launch event. I often also bought them lunch or coffee and met in an informal setting. I think most would have talked to me even without those enticements.

The interview phase could last for months or years depending on the time you have to devote to the project.

Be sure to have questions prepared for everyone you plan to talk to. I started each interview with small talk while the recorder was running. Recording a conversation can make someone nervous, so it’s important to make them feel at ease before you start.

Also, some people will be more interested in talking than others even if you suspect they have something to share. My shortest interview was ten minutes. My longest was four hours.

Finally, pick a quiet place. If you’re going to a coffee shop, stop by the business at the time you plan to be there to determine the atmosphere. One interview I had turned out to be in a loud restaurant, and as a result, the conversation was very hard to transcribe.

Once you have the interviews in hand and the archive constructed, you’re ready to begin writing.

Read on.

The Writing Process

Start by reading all your interviews and highlighting the text you wish to use. I made a handwritten outline of the story and filled in blocks of interviews I wanted to use in each section.

I worked solely on this project for one day a week for about three months just to get the text outline in place.

If you have something spectacular that may not fit, be sure to mark it. It may fit in a special aside or in the back material. For my project, the company history was also a family history in many respects. I asked everyone for their personal memories of the company founder and eventually used all that material in the back material of the book.

When you’re writing, be sure to make it interesting while keeping the story moving. If you’ve been hired to write this, you’re sure to have a handful of editors to please. Be sure to ask questions when the changes come back. For my project, it was helpful to edit the pages with the main editor and driver of the project looking over my shoulder. It can be hard to interpret someone’s written notes, and time is money. Ask for clarification.

I would have preferred to finish the text prior to starting the design, but the desire of the team was that both be done at once. I had a longer draft written in Word with marks to indicate what assets I wanted on which pages. This was a general design outline, and the final version looked much different.

Finding a Printer

Check around your area for a printer that can do a case bound book. It’s a little different type of printing, and the lead time is much longer. Try three months in my case.

If your book must be published in a certain time frame, be sure to build a timeline that will work for you and carefully convey that timeline to your team. For me, I built in an extra three weeks that I didn’t share with the team. This gave me some overflow time. It turns out I needed it, so be wise in creating your expectations.

Be sure to consult with your printer about the page layout. The team had already selected the size book they wanted, which was 11 inches wide by 9 inches tall.

For my project, I laid out the text in InDesign with the standard page size plus a .5 in margin on each side and a .2 in bleed. This is going to be perfect bound, so page count didn’t have to be a multiple of two. The gutters were no larger than the other margins.

Per the printer’s request, this was also laid out without facing pages. When I printed the drafts for review, I stapled them together to indicate the spreads.

The outer material is actually linen, and you have some choice in color. I borrowed a linen swatch book from the printer, and the team selected a dark navy with a gold embossed imprint on the cover and spine. There was no dust jacket.

For my project, the endpapers were also printed. This is the page at the beginning and end of a book that adheres to the hard cover. They can be printed on one side. This was laid out in InDesign with bleeds.

The end papers were printed with the names of all the employees at the company at that time. The team was concerned that every person in the list was able to find their name, so I sized the text so the entire list was repeated three times. There were small bullet glyphs in between the names for separation.

The end pages were printed with the names of all the employees of the company at the time the book was printed. Each name was separated with a bullet glyph.
The entire list of names was repeated three times, so each person was able to find their names. Can you find mine? This detail was very well received by the entire team.


The cost to print 1,000 of these books was roughly $20 a copy.

Given the amount of work involved, if I were to freelance a similar project, I would have charged $50/hour at minimum. If you’re quoting a job, make sure to figure in expenses like travel, meals and drinks for your interview subjects, and transcription fees. If you aren’t setting up the archive, make sure it is set up in a way that is going to be suitable for your project.


Once the book is laid out, it’s time to settle on a design. For this project, the team had a similar book they were hoping to replicate. This was heavy on images and light on text.

I set up the book with master pages to contain the page numbers and with several different grids to keep the design consistent. The company brand’s secondary colors served as the basis for the color palette. The brand standards also dictated the fonts, which were ITC Garamond and Gotham.

Once you have the base set up, it’s time to select the assets for each page.

Now, aren’t you happy you photographed everything in your archive?

Sure you are.

Start with the lowest hanging fruit – the photographs. I took my three boxes of carefully curated photos to my desk and has an assistant scan them as I needed them.

For the personal story of the founder’s life that started the book, I asked the family for some personal photos. I even took some things off the wall at one of the interview subject’s houses. For framed photographs, I took them to a professional framer to have them removed and reframed.

If you’re working with someone else’s assets, be sure to return them quickly and in great condition. You don’t want to be responsible for an heirloom going missing or being damaged.

Speaking of damaged, some of the photos I had access to were damaged including color fading and discoloration, torn edges, and foxing. I left the damage in rather than editing it out. To me, it added to the authenticity of the book to leave it in.

Some of the photos were damaged including foxing. I left the damage in the final photo for authenticity.
This burnt receipt was scanned and then used on a page that described a fire the company experienced. In this case, the damage to an artifact told the story.

Nearly all of the photos I had were printed photos, and they were scanned with a flatbed scanner. This is time consuming, so get help if you can.

I asked that the photos be scanned in the middle of the bed if possible so that the edges of the photos were accessible to me. I also, in many cases, used the slight shadow created by the scanner in the final result. This allowed the items to appear as if they’re floating off the page without adding a shadow effect in InDesign. Also, if the photos are torn or cracked or have those lovely scalloped edges, you can take advantage of that authentic detail.

I had the items scanned in the middle of the scanner bed to capture folds, cracks, and tears in the edges of the photograph.

The team also wanted objects to be in the book, and again, photographing all the objects in the archive was key. To photograph something, be careful to get the right angle and light. In general, you’ll want to photograph them straight on and in natural light. I tried moving the object around in different light and always photographed it on a solid background for easy extraction.

Hand written journals photographed for a company history book.
These hand written journals were photographed with an iPhone for a company history book. As with scanned material, I left the slight shadows around the edges to help pull the images off the page without using a shadow effect in InDesign.
Stock certificate press
This item was photographed with an iPhone for use in a company history book. Be sure to photograph the item straight on with a solid color background to make it easier to extract in Photoshop.
The interior pages were laid out in several grids so the design remained consistent. Here you can see the object shown above as it appeared in the book.
Some stories became sidebars including small sidebars on the contributions of key executives in the company’s history. Since some of them were retired, I also had to organize a professional head shot for them. In exchange for their patience and time, I gave them the headshots.

Some of the stories I collected became small sidebars in the book. These included sidebars on the contributions of the company’s key executives. Since some of them were retired, I also organized professional head shots for them. If you have photos you need to schedule like a head shot, be sure to add that time into your timeline. Also, be sure to allow the subject to select the final head shot used. It’s a small courtesy that goes a long way to building trust in the project.

The editing process was long and laborious and went on for months. If you have the opportunity, agree on the text first and then add your assets and begin the design. You’ll save time.

When the time came for final proofing, I was unable to secure a professional proofreader after reaching out to several. Since it was important that it be both grammatically correct and historically so, I passed the draft to scores of individuals who were interviewed for the book or had extensive history with the company. They helped ensure it was accurate on both counts.

This is also where my extra time came in. I didn’t send it to the printer until I really felt it was done and my drafts were being returned with few corrections.

As with any history, the story is never really finished. Once you send it to the printer, the company leadership may change, people will come and go, and the company will change.

The team for this project had a hard time knowing when it was done and wanted to add things. This gave me heartburn as the project was already on press. I tended to think of it as a point in time. You can always write volume two when the time comes.

The final book was delivered on deadline. The final page count was 84 pages.

Just keep your lines of communication open. As with any job, you’ll want to meet your client’s expectations.

The final case bound book in navy linen with gold embossed cover and spine.

If you need help with a similar project and want to chat, hit me up at my contact page. I’m always happy to help.