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This book, part memoir and part how-to, promotes the idea that writing helps us capture our past in order to live more meaningfully in the present. Thomas, author of the memoir Three Dog Life, daughter of physician and essayist Lewis Thomas, and a writing teacher, offers glimpses of her own life as she encourages readers to write about theirs. She devotes a chapter to the benefits of memoir writing, then offers suggestions on how to make writing a habit. One way is to carry a notebook so that one can constantly write down thoughts and activities. In the chapter on memory, she explores some of her own, revealing details about her husband's car crash and resulting traumatic brain injury. Also, she points out the role of scent in recalling past events. In her case, the characteristic medicinal smell of Noxema brings back memories of her adolescence. The overall effect is motivation and inspiration. She makes memoir writing seem a worthwhile, achievable goal by introducing thought-provoking exercises such as "Write two pages about what you no longer find funny" and "What waits in ambush?" This first volume in the "Arts of Living" series from AARP will appeal to would-be writers and those wishing to encourage their own creativity and live more intensely. Recommended for large public collections.
—Nancy R. Ives