Memoir "To Do" List created last September for Dan Blank's Class

I love lists. Don’t you?

Lists save us time. They help us visualize our goals. They inspire us. They appeal to our sense of completion with a beginning, middle, and end.

Book lists are the best of all.

I first enjoyed lists I found on Amazon. Then Goodreads offered me the chance to see the books others are reading and to find their reviews. That’s terrific.

But the newest social media entry, Riffle,

offers something that none of my other online locations does as well. It allows me to create lists from this website and distribute them to help other people find great reads and helpful books to guide their own writing.

I started blogging by challenging myself to read 100 memoirs back in 2009. Now I can aggregate them into fun lists which consist of colorful book covers. They don’t take long to make, and they are very easy to access. I’ve made six of them so far. I try to give them catchy titles.

Here they are as easy links for you to click on, listed in order of their popularity with other readers and writers:

So You Want to Write a Memoir: Writing Advice That Makes a Difference

Girls Who Dreamed Big and Got Out of Dodge

For People Who Crave Real-Life Amish and Mennonite Stories

Memoirs That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Memoirs That Illustrate the Varieties of Spiritual Transformation

Mary Karr’s Top Ten Memoirs, Plus a Bonus

Why did I start up yet another social media connection? I like Riffle because of how visual and easy it is. It’s still in the “Beta phase” of development, so I will continue testing the value of it. What’s fun for now is that I have a new way to share my love of good memoirs and find other readers. Of course, I hope readers will “discover” my memoir Blush when it launches. I already connected with a librarian in Ohio who found the Amish and Mennonite list useful.

Your turn: Some of these lists I want to make comprehensive (the Amish and Mennonite one) and others, I will make more selective, only adding a new book if it is one I have read and love. Here are three ways to comment below:

1.Did you find these lists helpful? Want to suggest changes?

2. If you are on Riffle, share some of your own lists as links below.

3. If you would like an invitation to Riffle (like Pinterest it expands through invitations), just let me know below.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Marlene Kropf on March 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the lists of types of memoirs. I appreciate knowing what books others are discovering.

    I’d add Ted Swartz’s Laughter Is Sacred Space to the list of memoirs that made me laugh out loud,

  2. shirleyhs on March 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks, Marlene. I just added it to the list. It fit my criteria, too! Hope you found one or two new books to enjoy here. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Tina Barbour on March 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing these lists. I’m so excited because I’m looking for new books, especially memoirs, to read. I have so much to read, but that’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it, to have so much to look forward to! 🙂

    • shirleyhs on March 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      It is a great feeling, Tina. I hope you find some here that you enjoy greatly. Happy reading. I’m always interested in your feedback.

  4. Kathleen Pooler on March 12, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Your enthusiasm is contagious, Shirley! I’m a list person too so your lists resonated with me. Thanks for sharing how it all works. You’ve certainly come a long way from that schematic drawing for Dan’s class but he sure gives a solid foundation for building, doesn’t he?

    • shirleyhs on March 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Ha, Kathy! I was wondering if any other Dan Blank alumni would recognize that list of goals. I feel pretty good about how the last six months unfolded, partly because Dan urged me to think ahead and partly because I was able to meet most, if not all, of the deadlines. That’s part of the value of lists for people with a high “J” in their Myers-Briggs. Checking off as we go.

  5. Richard Gilbert on March 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    This is great. I had not heard of Riffle! Some of these venues stick with me and some don’t. Goodreads is a winner and a no-brainer: the feed into my blog of my own ratings is so neat and helpful. OTOH, I can’t figure out Pinterest or, really, Tumblr.

    • shirleyhs on March 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      I’d love to hear more about how you use Goodreads, Richard. Maybe you could do a blog post about it sometime? I haven’t really explored all that it offers, I know.

      I will probably stay involved in both as I get closer to my launch date. Riffle is trying to become the number one “book discovery” place for readers. We’ll see if it succeeds.

  6. Sharon Lippincott on March 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Yes, I’m a list maker. I don’t always refer back to them, but making the list helps me sort my thinking. Once upon a time, probably in 1981 or 82, I made a list of things I’d look for in the next place we lived — I hoped to move away from the town we lived in, but had no reason to expect that to happen. In 1985 we moved to Pittsburgh. Two or three years later I found that list that had been buried all those years. The only item on the list that had not been realized was a stream in the backyard, and even that was sort of so. We live on a hillside and when it rains hard, there is a lively rivulet with a tiny fall. in the woods behind our house, along the side of the hill.

    Lists can be magic!

    Thanks for the reminder of Riffle. I did open an account, but have not been back to do anything with it. Seeing your lists turns on the lights. I shall get to it!

    • shirleyhs on March 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Sharon, I love your story about writing a list, forgetting about it, and then discovering that you had fulfilled your dream. That reminded me of a book title: Write It Down, Make It Happen. I think there is magic in lists, especially aspirational ones.

      Hope you find a way to use Riffle that serves your purposes. Would love to hear about it when you do!

  7. Becky Povich on March 13, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Shirley, these lists are great. And to answer your questions, Yes, I found them helpful.
    I don’t want to suggest changes, but maybe an addition. I absolutely love Adair Lara’s “Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay.” Laugh out loud funny, so easy to read like a friend is talking to you, so much learned, too! I hadn’t heard of Riffle. I would like an invitation, please!

    • shirleyhs on March 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Thanks so much, Becky, both for this comment and for your suggestion. One of the neat things about a Riffle list is that I can put up a book I haven’t read but have had suggested to me and just mark it “interested.” In fact, it’s so easy to do that, that I did it while responding to you.

      I will see if my WP allows me to find your email and will send you an invite pronto.

  8. Diane on March 13, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the wonderful lists! Another of favorite spiritual transformation title is Marriage and Other Acts of Charity – Kate Braestrup

    • shirleyhs on March 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Hi, Diane, great to see you here again. I haven’t read Kate Baestrup’s second memoir, but you reminded me of her first, which I loved. Thank you! I’ll add both of them to the spiritual transformation list: one because I am interested in it (thanks to you!), and the other because I highly recommend it and have read it.

      • diane on March 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm

        I loved “Here if You Need Me” even more than the other, but the other gives a more complete picture of the author. I think they both also fall into the Laugh Out Loud category, as well as Cry Real Tears category. Thanks again for your fun lists.

  9. Ray Evans on March 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    I have never heard of Riffle, I sure wouldn’t mind if someone would give me an invite. I’m always looking for some way to get my e-book where it can be seen.

    I guess I’ve become kind of shameless but if nobody knows it exists it will never get read!

    TOG (The Old Geezer from Geezerville)

  10. shirleyhs on March 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    You are right about the author’s opportunity, and obligation, to market his or her own work, Ray. That doesn’t feel great to many of us, but this kind of social media site may be helpful. I hope so. At any rate, look in your mailbox for an invitation.

  11. Madeline Sharples on March 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks, Shirley, for giving me a push to get back over to Riffle. I’ve let it slide since I joined. I need to learn its uses and advantages as you have. Yet, all this social networking is so overwhelming. LOL

    • shirleyhs on March 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      I know what you mean, Madeline. One reviewer said she wanted someone to shoot her if she joined another site. Well, the good news on this one is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time there. But you can make a list of your favorite memoirs about mental health, your favorite books about publishing, etc. You can put your own book in a list that is aspirational for you. And then you can check out for a while. No harm done.

  12. Max Minckler on March 13, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Shirley!

    What a wonderful post about Riffle! We’re so glad you’re enjoying the site so much, and that your helping others to find their way here. This is exactly what Riffle is all about – connecting readers with one another in the spirit of book discovery. Your contributions to the site are nothing short of wonderful and we’re so happy to have you!

    Any other book lovers, bloggers, or authors who follow Shirley’s wonderful website and are interested in joining Riffle, please feel free to email me at for an invitation.

    All the very best!

    • Shirley on March 14, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Hi, Max, so good to see you here.

      And what a great opportunity to get an invitation direct from you, the person who heads up memoir for Riffle.

      As you can tell, there are lots of memoir writers and readers, almost all of whom are NOT looking for new social media sites, but who just might try a new one if it in fact is easy and helps them find BOTH new books they like easily and, even more importantly, helps them find the ideal READERS and BOOK BUYERS for their own work. So far, social media has helped authors do the former better than the latter. Riffle has the opportunity to change this.

      Thanks for your work on behalf of all readers and writers of memoir.

  13. Becky Povich on March 13, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Hi Shirley, thanks for the Riffle invitation! I’ve already signed on, via facebook, but haven’t had time to do anything else yet. I noticed I forgot to mention what category the book I recommended falls under, but I guess you knew — the first one: So You Want to Write a Memoir….
    Thanks again for this wonderful post and for the invitation!

    • Shirley on March 14, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Thanks, Becky. I did indeed add your suggestion to that list and marked my interest in it. You can make your own list and “Recommend” it. Have fun!

  14. Lisa Guedea Carreno on March 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Shirley. The laugh-out-loud memoirs are right on! Some of them I’ve even read multiple times (and laughed out loud on subsequent times through). There are two or three on the list I haven’t read, though, so I will be adding them to my own list. Thanks so much!

    P.S. Haven Kimmel came to GC several years ago and was delightful. And David Sedaris and Anne Lamott are the king and queen (or would that be queen and queen? — ha!) of my book world!

  15. shirleyhs on March 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Love it, Lisa. I wish I could have heard Haven Kimmel at GC. I did hear her at the Calvin College Festival and enjoyed her as much as I thought I would. Happy reading and laughing. Thanks for stopping by. Always good to connect.

  16. Lynette Benton on April 8, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    This is terrific, Shirley, and I’m impressed that you’ve jumped on Riffle and made it work for you—and for us, those you share with.

    I love Girls Who Dreamed Big and Got Out of Dodge! And, of course, I can’t wait to see the laugh out loud ones. Thanks for this!

    P.S. Congrats on the upcoming publication of your book! It’s time I interviewed you on my web site! Interested? Have time? Maybe next month?

    • shirleyhs on April 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Glad you enjoyed, Lynette. And I’d be honored to be your guest and be interviewed. Just send me your questions on email. Thanks!

  17. Lynette Benton on April 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    P.P.S Would you invite me to join Riffle? Thanks.

    • shirleyhs on April 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Lynette, apparently I have used up all my invitations. However, try this: I think you can create an account with your Facebook account. If not, I can connect you with the person who is in charge of the memoir lists on Riffle.

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