Appreciation for Life – Unplugged

About “Listening Is An Act of Love”

“From more than ten thousand interviews, StoryCorps-the largest oral history project in the nation’s history-presents a tapestry of American stories, told by the people who lived them to the people they love.

StoryCorps began with the idea that everyone has an important story to tell. And since 2003, this remarkable project has been collecting the stories of everyday Americans and preserving them for future generations. In New York City and in mobile recording booths traveling the country-from small towns to big cities, at Native American reservations and an Army post-StoryCorps is collecting the memories of Americans from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. The project represents a wondrous nationwide celebration of our shared humanity, capturing for posterity the stories that define us and bind us together.

In Listening Is an Act of Love, StoryCorps founder and legendary radio producer Dave Isay selects some of the most remarkable stories from the already vast collection and arranges them thematically into a moving portrait of American life. The voices here connect us to real people and their lives-to their experiences of profound joy, sadness, courage and despair, to good times and hard times, to good deeds and misdeeds.

To read this book is to be reminded of how rich and varied the American storybook truly is, how resistant to easy categorization or caricature. Above all, this book honors the gift each StoryCorps participant has made, from the raw material of his or her life, to the Americans who will come after. We are our history, individually and collectively, and Listening Is an Act of Love touchingly reminds us of this powerful truth.”

When I was a little girl I used to spend my summers in Iowa with my grandparents. I know that I’ve told you this before, and I know that I made it very clear how very dull it was. (That is not a statement I will retract any time in near future.) I was little, and I was sentenced to spend (at the very least) 2 weeks of my summer vacation stuck in a town smaller than most local Walmarts with a populations whose median age was somewhere around the 75 mark. It was quiet. I am not, and therefore the fit was a bit tight.  What I didn’t tell you about was my Grandpa (Pops) and how, at just the right moment (usually when I was about the fall asleep at the table) he would launch into these amazing stories. Not about princess, or “How the West was won.” Those aren’t real. No, I got the good ones. I got stories about how he used to bake cookies on the hood of his car when he was at a business stop, or how my mother used to spend her entire Halloween evening tipping over outhouses instead of begging for candy. While everyone else (aka my brother and two very unfortunate cousins who also got stuck in Walnut for the summer) were outside playing city-wide games of hide-or-seek, or searching for their sanity; I was sitting next to Pops at the kitchen table, watching him play his 10 thousandth hand of solitaire, waiting for a story.

“Listening Is an Act of Love” presented by Dave Isay and his Storycorps Project, took me back to that time.  A time that I didn’t (until now) realize had such a lasting impact on me. They were just stories right?

Apparently not.

Now, I have never (not once) written a review for an Audible book. I listen to them all of the time. In fact…I consider them my way of winding down when I am stuck in the car for endless hours running errands, or trying to make it to a book event that is on the other side of the state. They relax me, much like reading.

So why now?

Well, over the Thanksgiving holiday Audible gave all of their members a free gift. That gift was a 55 minutes edition of “Listening Is an Act of Love.” I downloaded it (of course) but mentally marked it as “not my thing.” Two days ago, while waiting in the carpool line at my son’s school I decided to give it a go. Hey…I had an hour to spare, and the headache I was currently hosting threw a big ol red flag on the reading option.

10 minutes in I was completely and utterly enthralled. It was like listening to Pops tell his stories all over again. These were real stories. Told by real people! That were interviewed by people intimately connected to them.  The emotion I was hearing wasn’t fake or perfectly written to be poignant or thought-provoking. It was LIFE in all of its glory, whether shiny like the sun or as dark as the ocean floor.

And while yes, I did my fair share of eye-duct cleaning (crying for those of you that don’t read smart-ass) it wasn’t necessary because the stories were sad. Some were, I’m not going to lie to you. (There is an interview with a son and his mother – who gave him up for adoption 20 years earlier – that had me ugly crying) But some where just flat-out moving, or funny, or awe-worthy (like the man who escaped from the 105th floor of the World Trade Center.)

So awe-worthy, that 2 hours later… I found myself on Amazon purchasing the book. 55 minutes just wasn’t enough. I wanted to know more about these people and their contributions to life, and love and the pursuit of happiness. I wanted more stories. And while “reading” the stories wasn’t quite as compelling as “listening” to it straight from the interviewees mouth, they were still captivating.

I highly recommend both versions for anyone who enjoys candid snippets of life.

Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: a story doesn’t have to be action pack to be compelling, it just needs to be heartfelt.

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(4/5)

***Recordings are given to the respondents and also put in the Library of Congress with the permission of those who told their stories.***

 

 

About Misty

Your friendly neighborhood narcissist. I'm sarcastic, cynical and a bit cranky. I own a soap box so big that sometimes I have difficulty stepping down off of it, and I'm about 94% certain I have multiple personalities. I don't sleep enough, and I read more than any person should ever consider normal. I have anger management issues, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and I have an unhealthy obsession with my Kindle. I am a vampire lovin', zombie obsessed, book-in-hand, iPod freak. You either love me or hate me. You be the judge.