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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

To Goodread or not to Goodread


I want to use Goodreads. People tell me I should use Goodreads. Everyone swears by Goodreads. And still I do not use Goodreads. Because, and I'm embarrassed to say this, I don't read very many books. Probably one of the worst things a writer can fess up to, but there you have it. I don't have time, and reading always ends up last on my priority list. Actually I take that back. Playing guitar always ends up last on my priority list. I still remember (because it was only last year) having to awkwardly tell Jake, my guitar teacher, that I was stopping lessons on account of not having enough time to practice. And yes, it kills me that I've lost some skill at the six string, but I did manage to strum out a song for my nephew this weekend while in town for his 4th birthday. Should've Been a Cowboy, one of his favorites. A boy after my own heart.

But back to the books. And the fact that I should read more, which I fully acknowledge. I should also use Goodreads, because after I read a book, I am filled with the desire to share my thoughts with others (read a deliciously revealing memoir on the plane over the weekend that I can't wait to tell you about). I guess where I struggle is the whole "catch up" aspect. If I joined Goodreads, I'd feel a pull to rate books I've read over the years so people would know that I have in fact read more than 5 books in my life. But what an overwhelming undertaking that would be. And most of them not even fresh in my memory. When (if) I do join, I think it's best to just start with now. Just promise you won't judge the piddly number of books I read. Piddly.

And for those of you who are on Goodreads, I'd be curious to know how you manage it. Do you backtrack and rate books you've read prior (even much prior) to joining? Or only the books you've read since joining?


Should've Been a Cowboy


Tom's first book, The Secret Life of Cowboys, is one of my favorite memoirs, and I honestly don't know why it took me so long to read One Good Horse, but I loved it as well. Maybe not quite as much as Cowboys, but there is something about the way he writes that I resonate with. The simple sentence construction, Tom's calm nature as he moves through life, I really feel like I'm on the ranch myself as I read. More than that, reading these books makes me WANT to be on the ranch.

I also appreciate the honestly with which he writes. Cowboys is all about his dream of owning a ranch, how he gets there, and how he ultimately realizes it might not be for him after all. To spend so much of your life working for something, it takes a lot to tell the world "nevermind." And in Horse, he takes on the training of a colt, unabashedly second-guessing himself the whole way. It's not that his books are downers, it's that I feel what he feels while I read, and sometimes that honesty, even when painful, is refreshing. Honestly, I feel like I've just returned from Montana. And I already want to go back.


To Sell is Human


I'm long since past the days of reading textbooks, so I confess that the thought of reading for anything other than pleasure causes panic and painful flashbacks. I kid, I kid. Anyone who's read Schooled knows I loved being a student and dreaded the beginning of real life, but now that I'm in it, I do groan when I see informative books on the shelves. Who reads these? I once saw a stat of how many books you could read in your life if you were an average reader (and most of us read far less frequently than the average reader), and the number was disturbingly low. And if I can only read a very select number of books in my life, I certainly don't want to read any that are not for fun, don't make me laugh, and do nothing to help me escape.

So whenever I find myself reading a business-themed book, it surprises me. Even more so when I really enjoy it. Which is exactly what I can say about this book. True that I work in sales already, so it's not like I really needed a lot of convincing about selling in today's world being very different than in eras past. Or the presence of sales-related activities even in non-sales jobs. Or the amount of time we spend trying to move others; to convince people to part with something they have in exchange for something we can give. I already see this and fully believe it. I am the proverbial choir.

Nothing earth-shattering then, but what I loved about this book were the practical examples shared to illustrate each principle, the clear explanation of the ways we can become better and more effective movers in this information age, and the recommended exercises (sometimes very simple) to help us become better attuned, buoyant, and clear. Very readable and incredibly relatable (much like Quiet), it's always satisfying to read a book that gets it right. If you work in sales, manage a team of salespeople, or just want to read a fascinating account of the shift away from the Fuller Brush Man style of selling that was once so prevalent, you should read this book.


Books I Can't Wait to Read

One of my resolutions this year involves reading more books, so I made a rather large book purchase over the weekend and am now happy to report that I will be reading all of these books in the near future. Man, sometimes I forget how much I love reading. Particularly non-fiction. Especially memoirs. Not that this should shock anyone by this point. Of course it's just now occurring to me that reading all these books is going to seriously cut into my writing time. Le sigh. At any rate, I'll be sure to report back on what I think of the below books.










Word on the Street

When you are a no-name author, word of mouth is one of the only things you have to work with. You hope that everyone who reads your book tells several other people who then read it and tell several more people about it. In my head I always thought of it as a snowball/domino effect that would blossom quite naturally. In reality though, getting people to buy your book is not that easy.

Look at it this way. You start with the pool of everyone who knows you. Family, friends, co-workers, etc. Based on numbers alone, this will seem like a pretty big pool. But in order for any given person to actually buy your book, he/she must: 1) enjoy reading books to begin with, 2) enjoy reading memoirs, and 3) not be "too busy" right now (even though they seem to have no trouble getting through the Shades of Grey series). And while everyone in this pool will praise you for your accomplishment, tell a few people about you, and maybe even post a link to your book on their facebook page, everyone who sees/hears about it from them will also have to pass the three criteria I've listed above. What this all boils down to is a relatively low percentage of potential readers who actually read your book.

Not that I have anything to complain about. On the contrary, I continue to be amazed at the positive response from those who have read Schooled. There were so many times during the publishing process that I had temporary freak-out moments when I wondered why in the hell I was doing this, sure no one would care about my measly collection of classroom lessons. But people do care. They remember their own educations and laugh and cry along with me as I grow up over the course of 245 pages. So I couldn't really ask for anything more. Except maybe MORE people to laugh and cry with me as I grow up over the course of 245 pages. Bring on the snowball.


Memoirs I Love

It occurred to me recently that 9 of the last 10 books I've read have been memoirs. Figures. While I can certainly appreciate a well-written novel (I'm just as into things like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter as everyone else), my favorite things to read are memoirs. I just love real life, because if the book is good, there's an extra sense of satisfaction in knowing that it really happened. The author really did accomplish this great thing, conquer this pesky demon, learn this poignant lesson, make it through this unimaginable trial, etc. And if the memoir is more entertaining than serious, that's even better. Because that means the author really did make this big a fool of themselves, say this ballsy thing to that other person, get themselves into this hilarious shenanigan, etc.

One of the first memoirs I ever read was 'Tis. This is of course book 2 in the Angela's Ashes series, but I didn't know that at the time. I simply became engrossed in the story of a penniless Irish boy making his way in America. Some time later I read Teacher Man, book 3 in the series, and loved it too. As a sidenote, the teacher memoir is a dynamite idea. Think of all those lessons learned from students. Such a wealth of experiences to draw from there. To any of you teachers out there, please write memoirs so I can read them! Even though Angela's Ashes is actually the first book in the series, I read it last, and actually enjoyed it the least.

Still one of my all-time favorites in the world of memoirs is The Secret Life of Cowboys. Partly because I've always wanted to be a cowboy, or at least marry one, but mostly because it was about boy studying English who decided to scrap it all and become a cowboy. Not because he knew anything about it, but because he wanted to. And if that isn't the most ballsy move to make in life, then I don't know what is. The truth is, I'm jealous. And reading about horses and cattle and land as he learned about life on a ranch (and eventually bought one himself), was as informative as it was wistful.

And even though I only read this one recently, A Girl Named Zippy is one of the most delightfully hilarious memoirs I've read in a long time. Just a collection of stories from her life growing up in a small town, this is the kind of memoir that has you not only laughing out loud at the situations she got herself into, but also secretly wishing your own younger self had been as clever, stubborn, and interesting. A little reminiscent of Ramona Quimby, I could have kept reading several hundred pages more. And isn't that the point? For an author, I think yes. Yes, it is.