The best memoirs that inspire you to live a great story

Who am I?

I’m a writer, a storyteller, and a dreamer of absurdly ridiculous dreams. I’m an empath who feels big feelings and trusts my intuition as I make my way in this world. I know full well the power and importance of encouraging words, of being a friend, of looking for hope when nothing seems to be going your way. These are the books I turn to when my soul, the truest part of what makes me “me,” needs a reminder of why I write, why I tell stories, and what it means to be human. These are the books that dance across my synapses whenever I sit down to write and tell my own stories.

I wrote...

Book cover of A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me about Life

What is my book about?

Ethan D. Bryan played and wrote about baseball for years. Then his daughters challenged him to set out on a yearlong experiment: to play catch with someone every day. This whimsical experience led him across 10 states and 12,000 miles on a quest both quixotic and inspiring.

Taking you from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to the home of the Daytona Tortugas in Florida, from the Field of Dreams to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bryan played ball and swapped stories with public school teachers, journalists, musicians, entertainers, and athletes of every level. For baseball fans and everyone who loves a good story, A Year of Playing Catch is an inspiring journey about the sacredness of play and being fully present in the human experience.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty

Ethan D. Bryan Why did I love this book?

Martin Schleske is a German luthier and theologian. My daughter is a violinist. I picked up this book at the recommendation of Byron of Hearts & Minds Books, hoping to learn more about the violin-making process, and it has remained one of my favorite books ever since. Schleske slowly and carefully walks the reader through his process, from choosing the right trees, to designing the structure, to helping “closed” violins discover their sound. Along the way, he shares how his work crafting violins helps him grow in his faith.

I can only read a couple pages of this book at a time, as Schleske’s profound wisdom often leaves me with thoughts I need time to process and sort through. This is a book about how God, as the Artist, will continue to shape me, work with me, and help me be the best instrument I can be to make music with all of my life.

By Martin Schleske,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sound of Life's Unspeakable Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christianity Today Book Award in Culture and the Arts (2021)

“In the final analysis, music is prayer cast into sound.” 

One of the greatest luthiers of our time reveals the secrets of his profession—and how each phase of handcrafting a violin can point us toward our calling, our true selves, and the overwhelming power and gentleness of God’s love. Schleske explains that our world is flooded with metaphors, parables, and messages from God. But are we truly listening? Do we really see? Drawing upon Scripture, his life experiences, and his insights as a master violinmaker, Schleske challenges readers to understand…

Book cover of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story

Ethan D. Bryan Why did I love this book?

I am a storyteller. I believe in the power of stories to bring people together, to teach us about who we are and how we are to live on this beautiful ball of dirt. Stories give meaning to our struggles and inspire us to push on when we want to give up. Miller’s book is all about living a good story.

This book has one of my favorite definitions of story, “A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it." Miller uses that definition as the structure of his memoir in which he goes through the hard work of overcoming conflict to truly live an epic adventure. I read this book when I want to remember whose story I’m living.

By Donald L. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Million Miles in a Thousand Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the publication of his wildly successful memoir, Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller's life began to stall. During what should have been the height of his success, he found himself avoiding responsibility and even questioning the meaning of life. But when two producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, Miller found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty, and meaning.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Miller's rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story and to reinvent himself so nobody shrugs their shoulders when the credits roll. When his producers…

Book cover of The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America

Ethan D. Bryan Why did I love this book?

For one year, award-winning sportswriter Joe Posnanski traveled with baseball ambassador Buck O’Neil all over the country, sharing stories about those who played in the Negro Leagues. This is a book about baseball, yes, but this is a book about choosing hope time and time again, even when it doesn’t make sense.

This is a book full of stories of those who were denied a chance to play in the major leagues because of something beyond their control—the color of their skin. But this is also a book about how love is the strongest power in the universe, breaking down hate, and replacing it with hope. I read this book almost every spring, as MLB players are headed to Spring Training.

By Joe Posnanski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soul of Baseball as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Baseball 100

“A fascinating account of a man who outlasted the ignorance of a nation and persevered to become a beloved figure...One of the best baseball books in years, filled with depth style and clarity." —Cleveland Plain Dealer

An award-winning sports columnist and a baseball legend tour the country to recapture the joys and wonders of two of America’s greatest pastimes

When legendary Negro League player Buck O’Neil asked sports columnist Joe Posnanski how he fell in love with baseball, that simple question eventually led the pair on a cross-country quest to recapture the love that…

Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Ethan D. Bryan Why did I love this book?

Big Magic is a book about living life as a creative. It’s a book about having the courage to create what you were made to create, to be all of the glorious you that God whispered into being when the world around you is trying to shape you into some other mold.

I’ve read this book several times and listened to it on audiobook. After living through my catch-playing year and writing about it, when my story forever got connected to the story of Dan Bryan and Ethan C. Bryan, I personally experienced Big Magic.

“Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

This world is desperate for creative revolutions that bring joy, wonder, hope, and love. This book reminds me to do just that.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…

Book cover of The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling

Ethan D. Bryan Why did I love this book?

Several years ago, I read this book and was amazed by its humor, its wisdom, and the place other people have in helping us discover our place on this planet. After reading the book, I reached out to the author, who responded and met me for dinner. At that dinner, I asked Benson if he thought I could be a writer. He said, “This world is desperate for good sentences, for good stories, and for those who are willing to do the hard work necessary to bring them to life.”

This book is exactly like sitting down with a good friend and finding yourself in a conversation so good that you completely lose track of time.

By Robert Benson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Echo Within as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“I can remember the words people said that meant so much to me and my own sense of who I was and who I might become…. You know you have heard such a sentence when you hear inside a corresponding Yes. The Yes is an echo of sorts, or at least it is the same voice as is the Echo that you have come to count on. Such a sentence takes your breath away…. It tells you something about yourself that you suspected or hoped, something you glimpsed but were too shy or uncertain to name aloud.”

To Hear and…

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Book cover of An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

Clifford A. Wright Author Of An Italian Feast: The Celebrated Provincial Cuisines of Italy from Como to Palermo

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Who am I?

Author Philosopher Historian Researcher Gastronomer Bibliophile and reviewer

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What is my book about?

An Italian Feast celebrates the cuisines of the Italian provinces from Como to Palermo. A culinary guide and book of ready reference meant to be the most comprehensive book on Italian cuisine, and it includes over 800 recipes from the 109 provinces of Italy's 20 regions.

An Italian Feast is a gastronomy about Italian culinary history and consciousness, about how Italians cook, eat, and how their food is an intimate part of their culture. It is the first book in any language to comprehensively explore the gastronomy and cuisine not just of Italy, and not just the regions of Italy, but all 109 provinces of Italy, linking each with each other in terms of history, agriculture, economics, and the material culture of creative food illustrated with recipes.

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