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It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure

(Six-Word Memoirs)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  687 ratings  ·  130 reviews
“A perfect distraction and inspiration, and a collection that begs to be shared. Be warned, though. If you plan to lend out your copy, start out with two. Once it leaves your hands you’ll never see it again.”
Denver Post (on Not Quite What I Was Planning)

The editors of the New York Times bestseller Not Quite What I Was Planning are back with its much-anticipated sequel, It
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published December 29th 2009)
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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  687 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
These are a lot of fun. I think I'm going to try to do a six-word memoir every day. I think it will be a good exercise.
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love all the things you can do with six word memoirs in the classroom. Not only can you have students write their own, but this could be a form of assessment for books they read: have students write a six word memoir for the protagonist and antagonist in their story. This could be a form of assessment in science or social studies. What would Napoleon's six word memoir be? Abraham Lincoln? Nelson Mandela? Write the six-word memoir for an element on the periodic table. What would an amoeba's six ...more
Liza Gilbert
Feb 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
It only takes a few minutes to read this entire bookful of six-word memoirs. Some of the authors really nailed the concept of brevity, while others' memoirs, though six words long, made not impact at all.

I was bothered by the fact that many of the authors just put six words together to make a point, not to create a memoir. They were tedious to read, and I'm not sure why the editors included them. After a hundred people saying the same thing, or saying different things but in the same way, I wish
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2016
Some funny, clever, and sad. Inspired.
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I heard a lot about this book before I ever read it. I'm mostly enamored by the concept, and it's fun to see how different people interpreted "memoir"...some wrote where their lives appeared to be in the moment, others wrote the most important things to them, and still others incorporated the grand story arc of their lives in only six words (though I did find one that was only five words long. It felt like an Easter egg.)

The brilliance of this is seeing glimpses of beauty in the lives of others,
Henriette (henriettereads)
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
I've never been one to read "collections", but when I read what this book was about I knew I had to own it. Never would I have imagined how much can be said in six words, and it's inspired me to try some "six-word-memoirs" myself. Took me about two hours to read it, with breaks, and it's just great. Still not sure whether I have a favourite memoir in here as they're all so real in their own way. Should look into getting the other books in this series!
Lynn Dickerson
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of 6 word memoirs so I enjoyed this collection. My own is "had it all. Lost it. Rebuilding "
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fun, heartfelt, fascinating, funny, and wonderful. Another winning anthology from SMITH.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
Quick, easy flip through. Not as enlightening as I had hoped - I don't know what I expected with only six words at the authors' disposal. I want to hear more :)
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really liked reading these Six-word Memoirs. Read all four today and was a highly entertained. If you love quotes, read these books.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love these books. It's amazing how much emotion some people and wring out of six little words.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved the concept as much as the output. This is a great waiting room book and also could be used as an activity in a class, workshop, or training. Reading the memoirs, I was amazed at how much can be packed into six words. I appreciated the variety of approach authors took to writing these. It also made me think a lot about life and how, in my view, we only get one. I thought a lot about the long-term effects of various traumatic life experiences and how, for some, they can become the story o ...more
Jennifer Conrad
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
I had high hopes for this book after reading Fresh Off the Boat from this series. While there were a few great 6-word memoirs in this book, many of them seemed to be about sex and/or divorce. While this might not seem like a big deal, it isn't very helpful to me since I was hoping to use this with my high school English classes. And, honestly, many of the memoirs were just a list of things people had done or words they used to describe themselves--it was lacking the wit and depth of thought I sa ...more
Linda C
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the fourth book of collected six-word memoirs, but my first read in this phenomenon. They ranged from the quirky to the profound. Some of the memoirs are by famous writers, but many are from people who submitted their memoir to the site. A few that I made a connection with: “Friendship test: willingness to be inconvenienced” - Gay Talese; “Can't reach top shelves, married tall” Joy Zuercher; “A story told with every wrinkle” - Beth Canton; and “Am hoping there is an epilogue ...more
Ogi Ogas
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
My ratings of books on Goodreads are solely a crude ranking of their utility to me, and not an evaluation of literary merit, entertainment value, social importance, humor, insightfulness, scientific accuracy, creative vigor, suspensefulness of plot, depth of characters, vitality of theme, excitement of climax, satisfaction of ending, or any other combination of dimensions of value which we are expected to boil down through some fabulous alchemy into a single digit.
Amy Baker
Cute, fun

This was a cute, quick read, with a lot of fun and quirkiness. Nothing too deep, just short and sweet.
Tara Cignarella
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Perfect little book for a lazy winter Saturday morning. It's amazing how much of a story can be packed into 6 little words. I wonder what words I'd choose? ;)
Ahmad Hossam
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels-stories
Perfect genre. Average stories. Cautiously proceed...
William Beldham
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining. Sometimes makes you think ;sometimes makes you wonder.
Sameer Vasta
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
How would you describe your life in six words? Writing a six-word story is hard enough; the difficulty of encapsulating a whole life in a few dozen characters feels almost impossible.

Thousands of people have tackled this daunting task, and the folks at online storytelling magazine SMITH decided to collect the best ones and publish them in a multitude of collections. The first two collections, Not Quite What I Was Planning and It All Changed In An Instant, are easy to consume in a short sitting;
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just love these books.
Dani Peloquin
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Legend has it, Ernest Hemingway was sitting in a bar (predictable!) when a fan of his approached him and commented on how well he can tell a story in only a few words. He then challenged Hemingway to tell a story in the fewest amount of words possible. Hemingway shot back with “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn”. Whether this story is true or just once of those great Hemingway myths, it is clear that a full story can be told in only 6 words. SMITH Magazine decided to use this as a premise for a p ...more
Feb 27, 2010 marked it as read-but-unowned
Shelves: arc
Like the other six-word memoir books this book will keep you highly entertained for a few hours, if you go at it all at once, or for weeks if you have the self-control to spread out the fun. The list of celebrity contributors is much longer in this book than the first and includes Isabelle Allende, Tony Kushner, Alison Bechdel, Junot Diaz and other well-known authors. Bob Barker (My life story --- spay or neuter.), Neil Patrick Harris (Barney...Doogie...! Average names elude me.), and other main ...more
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been using "six word stories" to caption some of my images on flickr for a long time. Creating a 6-word story stretches your writing muscle and forces you to be spare and concise with your words. So when I saw this compilation of 6-word stories for a bargain price, I downloaded it immediately.

The book is listed as 274 pages, but many of the pages have only 1 or 2 six-word stories, so it won't take you long at all to read the entire book - probably less than one hour. Some of the stories a
Kelly Hager
May 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
First, who speaks French? What does "Un peu fouillis. Pas encore compris" mean?

Here are my favorites:

"Michael Stipe mumbled my formative years."

"I'm happiest when I'm eating cheesecake."

"Dancing like nobody can see, finally." (Sophia Bush! I love her and I love Brooke Davis.)

"I want to be Tina Fey." (I don't actually want to be Tina Fey, but I would like to be her wife. Or her BFF. I'm okay with either.)

"Little me would've liked big me."

"Why is speaking true so courageous?" (Melissa Etheridge--l
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow is all I can say about many of the six word memoirs in this book. Funny, tragic, poignant, scary. It is amazing how just six words can be used to tell a story. This is apparently a follow up book to several successful predecessors (Amazon can give you a list). I also gathered after the fact that people can go to the web site and submit their own stories and read those of others. The authors in this book are both famous and just regular people. The first six-word memoir ever ...more
I always enjoy a six-word memoir. They have a history all of their own, and you can really say so much in six words. This collection was a little weaker than previous ones though. It's also the first one I've read on my Kindle, and I found the format to be weird. I think I'll stick with buying them in paper for now on. Still, you never feel like your time has been wasted with a collection of six-word memoirs from SMITH magazine. Here are a few of my favorites from this collection.

“Books then. B
Apr 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Won this book in a first reads giveaway. If you are unfamiliar with the six-word memoir, it is just that. You must tell your life story in only six words. Think it can’t be done? After reading thousands of writers' six-word memoirs I was surprised to find that you really can tell a whole lot about yourself in only six words. Many of the memoirs were funny, while many were shockingly sad. Some made no sense at all and yet some were extremely poignant. There were a lot about being gay and coming o ...more
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I grabbed this book since I so enjoyed the first volume in this series, Not Quite What I Was Planning. I didn't enjoy this book as much. Maybe it was because so many of the entries seemed to repeat the same concepts, maybe because so many of the entries seemed to be making a point not writing a memoir, maybe it was because this volume contained so many celebrity entries that seemed to be going for a laugh. I don't know. Anyway, there were a number of memoirs that made me laugh, some that made me ...more
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Flights of Fantasy: Six Little Words 26 32 Feb 24, 2016 06:14AM  

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Our book features nearly 1,000 six-word memoirs by famous folks, as well as unknown writers from SMITH Mag's storytelling community.

More than 200,000 people have submitted Six-Word Memoirs at SMITH Magazine ( and its younger cousin, SMITH Teens ( Thanks to the devoted admiration of writers, critics

and educators alike, the six-word memoir concept has spread to classroom


Other books in the series

Six-Word Memoirs (8 books)
  • Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure
  • I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
  • Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure
  • One life. 6 words, what's yours? : six-word memoirs from Smith magazine
  • Oy! Only Six? Why Not More? Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life
  • Things Don't Have To Be Complicated: Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs by Students Making Sense of the World (TED Books)
  • Six Words About Work
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“Books then. Books now. Occasionally life.
—Nancy Pearl”
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