Frequently Asked Questions
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The last two years of my life have been entirely filled with researching and getting permissions for my first book, Letters of Note. Those of you who supported that book (and there were many of you – thank you!) will have lived through that journey with me. Despite all the delays, I hope you feel that the finished book is worth it.
The good news is that now I’m ready to tackle my second – Lists of Note.
What is it?
Human beings have been making lists for even longer than they’ve been writing letters. If you think about it, there’s no human activity that can’t be expressed as a list: things to do, buy or store; things to hope for and aspire towards; things we like about ourselves or others; things we want to improve; things that make us laugh or cry; our favourite songs, books, paintings; things we remember from our childhood; things we want to do before we die. That’s what this book is full of – like Letters of Note, it is an anthology of all the different things that make us human.
In it you’ll find:
- The 19 year-old Isaac Newton’s list of the 57 sins he had already committed
- Charles Darwin’s list of the pros and cons of getting married
- Michelangelo's illustrated shopping list from 1518
- Robert Heinlein’s 1949 list of predictions about the future
- Advertising guru David Ogilvy’s list of rules for effective writing
- The 16th century list of the ‘Eight Kindes of Drunkenesse’
- Galileo's list of parts needed to build his telescope from 1609
- Walt Disney’s list of 47 possible names for the seven dwarfs
- Anne Frank's handwritten list of pseudonyms used to protect her family
How will it look?
It will be the same size as Letters of Note, produced to the same high standard, with 125 lists and short introductions and, where necessary, transcripts. We’re planning on a beautiful 350-page book, full of facsimiles and illustrations – a thing of beauty to put next to Letters of Note.
But when, Shaun, honestly?
For next Christmas. Honestly. We have a team in place for permissions. And brilliant designers and editors. We know what we’re doing this time.
I’m Shaun Usher, and I’m best known for my website Letters of Note, now a lovely book funded by Unbound and jointly published by Unbound and Canongate. When I’m not hunting down letters, I’m making lists like this one:
1. Publish first book
2. Research second book
3. Set realistic deadline for permissions
4. Publish second book
When I’m not making lists, I live in Wilmslow with my wife Karina, and our two sons.
1. Johnny Cash’s To-Do List
It seems apt to kick Lists of Note off with the very list that inspired the creation of this site: A lovely, handwritten list from Johnny Cash.
THINGS TO DO TODAY!
- Not smoke
- Kiss June
- Not kiss anyone else
- Not eat too much
- Go see Mama
- Practice Piano
NOTES: Not write notes
- 29th April 2014 Partial contents list for Lists of Note
Here are some of the lists which we're currently planning to have in the book. If you like these you'll love the rest.
Kiss June - Johnny Cash
Termes of a keruer - Wynkyn de Worde
Attempt at an Inventory - Georges Perec
Who Killed JFK? - Evelyn Lincoln
Rules for Box-Office Appeal - Preston Sturges
Anti-Flirt Club - Alice Reighly
Boyle’s Wish list - Robert Boyle
These people are helping to fund Lists of Note.
Maisurah A Ghapur