How Goodreads Helped Me Find My Memories

An unsettling thing happened when I went home to Colorado for the holidays last year. While my family sat around a fire in Summit County, trading stories and recent news, my sister asked me about a time she and I had shared that she remembered vividly.

“You don’t remember that?” She stared at me emphatically, as if asking the question would light the match to the memory that had clearly grown cold and damp in my mind. No such luck. In fact, I couldn’t recall even a portion of the memory she described to me—a memory that wasn’t from too long ago, but distant enough that it’s not tangible anymore, something vaguely familiar.

I don’t know when I started noticing gaps in my memories of things, but it became more pervasive and embarrassing in my early 20s. Large swaths of time suddenly go dark, dissolve from within me. It starts small, with a drive home from a late shift that I couldn’t really describe, to a song that sounded like something I knew but couldn’t pinpoint who it was. People waving and saying, “How are you?” who I didn’t recognize or couldn’t name. Then more of those questions:

“Remember that time?” “What year was that?” “When did you get that tattoo?” Significant portions of my own timeline were missing. I became skilled in leading conversations away from my frustration and increasing anxiety over these lost portions of time. I started leaving myself notes around the apartment.

“Don’t dry the tan, wool shirt!” “Remember your sister’s birthday is on the 13th, CALL HER.” “There is spinach in the fridge, if you don’t eat it, it will go bad and you will feel like a failure again.” While some of these were reminders about small tasks, I started to wonder if this was how my life was just going to be now. The problem for me wasn’t just why I couldn’t remember, but how I could get these memories back.

My partner and I were talking about books we had read in 2019; books that blew us away and books that we wished we had put down sooner. I knew I had read stellar books last year, but I couldn’t pinpoint those titles. I reached for my phone, as many of us who need to remember something right away do, and opened my Goodreads app. My “2019” shelf sat, neatly and chronologically ordered for me to peruse. Month by month, the books I had slogged through and the books that shone brilliantly awakened in my memory, but something else happened too. I began to remember other parts of my life in those months, what I was doing while reading The Song of Achilles, or where I had been sipping a particularly delicious sticky rice tea in Sellwood while devouring La Fronterra in June. One by one, my memories filtered back in, and as I looked further and further through my Goodreads archive, pieces of 2017 and 2016 came together before me.

It turns out, it’s not just me; our memories are getting worse and that’s largely due to the
Google effect, in which the ability to look up or search is so readily available to us that our minds have “decreased dependency on internal memory storage.” I can’t recall the amount of times I’ve been thinking of a word for something or a fact about so-and-so and just Googled it. While I was briefly euphoric at the discovery that Goodreads had carefully catalogued the past three years of my life for me with dates and metadata to support the timeline, I wonder about the accuracy of archival memory. It’s unsettling to consider that memory may become something that lives on a server farm somewhere, susceptible to be infiltrated, altered, or vanished. But there is a rather simple solution: write more. Research has shown that writing things down is essential to memory retention. Perhaps the digital cataloguing of the books I’ve read in some way has captured those memories within the pages of those books. In rereading the titles, I am able to relive those parts of my life with more clarity, and to engage again with my life through the “written” lists of how my past was spent.

LAUREL EVERYWHERE Press Kit Prep

The Laurel Everywhere team members had their work cut out for them to compile and utilize Ooligan’s first-ever press kit. Our newly founded publicity department, led by the amazing Alex Gonzales, thankfully did the research for us and put a template together that we used to build the Laurel Everywhere press kit! A press kit is usually used by publishers as a prepackaged set of publicity materials that provides information about a book and is sent to members of the media for promotional use.

Ours includes a one-pager, which can be compared to a tipsheet or a fast-facts page, and a press release that has targeted and specific newsworthy copy to make it easy for a media reviewer or journalist to print it in their publication. Also included is a more in-depth about-the-book page, an about-the-author page, and an early reviews page which houses the blurbs we’ve received from distinguished authors as well as early reviews from Goodreads. On top of all that information, we also crafted discussion questions and an author Q&A formatted in AP style for a journalist to pull directly from our kit. To complete the kit, we included a simple page with information about Ooligan Press. In total, it’s about ten pages.

In the kit, we talk about Erin Moynihan’s debut YA fiction novel, Laurel Everywhere, and how it destigmatizes mental health with young readers by bringing taboo topics like death, grief, and suicidal ideation to light with a palatable narrative that encourages empathy and offers hope to readers.

Laurel Everywhere is a deeply moving, startlingly real examination of trauma, tragedy, and the indefatigable strength of the human spirit when confronted with a world that won’t stop turning in the face of loss.” —Ava Morgyn, author of Resurrection Girls

With Laurel Everywhere, we have committed to showing young readers that grief and caring for your mental health aren’t things you have to go through alone. You can even find life and love after extreme loss. Current events have taken a toll on people everywhere, and this novel opens the door for conversations we all need to have with ourselves and our loved ones about loss and healthy coping mechanisms.

Our goal with the press kit is to garner media attention for Laurel Everywhere locally and nationally. We plan to send this kit out to a list of media outlets and journalists that we think would be interested in covering the release of this novel. We would also love to partner with mental health organizations and charities to help talk about the book, the heavy themes of grief, and how we can find hope in our real-world situations.

For more information on Laurel Everywhere, or if you would like to receive a press kit or interview Erin Moynihan, please contact Grace Hansen at grace.hansen@ooliganpress.pdx.edu.

Introducing Laurel Everywhere

Severe loss. For fifteen-year-old Laurel Summers, those two words don’t cut it. They don’t even come close. Laurel couldn’t tell you the last words she spoke to her mother and siblings if her life depended on it—maybe something about pizza. Some guy decided to drive drunk, and now she sees the ghosts of her family everywhere. After the car accident, she and her dad are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered life, but her dad is struggling with his grief and depression. It’s up to Laurel to hold everything together. With the help of her grandparents, her two best friends, and some random airport strangers, Laurel tries to make sense of her pain. She must come to terms with the things on her List of Things Not to Talk About, learn to trust her dad again, and—on top of it all—keep her heart open to love, even in the wake of her immense loss.

Ooligan Press is excited to announce our newest YA novel, Laurel Everywhere by debut author Erin Moynihan, set to launch November 10, 2020. Laurel Everywhere is an intimate depiction of the grief and mental-health issues often experienced with the loss of loved ones. The novel highlights complicated family relationships in the wake of tragedy: Laurel grapples with her own feelings of loss while her father spirals into a deeper depression, requiring a long stay in a hospital that specializes in grief. Although much of the book focuses on grief, loss, and mental health, Laurel Everywhere is also a story of survival, love, hope, and friendship. Follow Laurel on a journey of self-discovery, self-healing, and growth as she learns that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay.

Still not convinced that Laurel Everywhere is the right book for you? Here are two more reasons you might love it:

  • We at Ooligan pride ourselves on bringing seldom-heard voices to print. Laurel Everywhere focuses on Laurel, a teenage LGBTQ+ character struggling with her sense of identity, but the narrative doesn’t revolve around her sexuality. Although her sexuality is explored, her experience with grief and her struggle with her father’s mental-health challenges are themes that are relatable to everyone, regardless of their sexual identity.
  • Grief and mental-health struggles are explored in a raw and honest way. Our author, Erin Moynihan, doesn’t hold back as she depicts life with a parent struggling with deep depression and explores what recovery can look like for the families of those experiencing mental illness. Moynihan has a background in social work, which she called on to help guide her through this writing journey and to help break through the social stigma surrounding grief and mental-health struggles.

Erin Moynihan’s editorial work has appeared on HuffPost, Buzzfeed, The Mighty, and Her Campus. She has a strong passion for elevating young female voices. When she’s not working, she’s likely spending time cuddling with her dog or adventuring around the Pacific Northwest. You can see what she’s up to at www.erinmoynihan.com.