Bill Shapiro on Why We Keep The Stuff We Keep


Think about this for a second. What’s one object in your life that holds special meaning to you? What memento reminds you of the past and tells a remarkable story?

That's the question Bill Shapiro and Naomi Wax asked 150 people of all walks of life across the country. The results of their findings are captured beautifully in their new book What We Keep

From "everyday" people such as a barber and a war widow to well-known folks such as Melinda Gates and Mark Cuban, the book chronicles the stories and meaning behind cherished personal belongings.

Some of the stuff they discovered is surprising.

Melinda Gates most prized possession is an Apple III computer that her father gave her (not sure what hubbie Bill thinks about this).


Other objects come with deeply moving stories.

Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild, reveals her favorite keepsake to be a seashell with a red velvet pincushion inside. The murex shell, a gift to her mother from her father in the 50s, reminds her of “who I wanted to be and what kind of life I wanted to live, and knowing that I’ve done it.”


On the Write About Now podcast Shapiro, who is the former editor in chief of Life magazine, talks about his inspiration for the book, his most surprising discoveries, and what it taught him about what we value most.