Marina Keegan’s list of interesting stuff, and why we should create our own

I wrote about Marina Keegan’s book The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories towards the end of last year. I suggested that the collection could be used to find hope and the courage to be creative, but there was something else that particularly inspired me.

This was Keegan’s list of Interesting Stuff, which is mentioned in the book’s introduction by the essayist and professor Anne Fadiman.

Fadiman recalls how, in an application to her first-person writing class, Marina wrote the following:

About three years ago, I started a list. It began in a marbled notebook but has since evolved inside the walls of my word processor. Interesting stuff. That’s what I call it. I’ll admit it’s become a bit of an addiction. I add to it in class, in the library, before bed, and on trains. It has everything from descriptions of a waiter’s hand gestures, to my cab driver’s eyes, to strange things that happen to me or a way to phrase something. I have 32 single-spaced pages of interesting stuff in my life.

I find this fascinating: a source of creative wisdom and inspiration, yet also a trove of memories and everyday experiences.

When reading The Opposite of Loneliness, Fadiman’s mention of Marina’s list sets us up for the stories and essays ahead, and it’s hard to doubt the influence it must have had on her writing and creativity.

It’s something more than a journal, and much more personal than using Evernote to collect snippets of interestingness on our phone.

Let’s keep note of the words that inspire us, the smallest moments of beauty we notice, and thoughts that come to us that don’t fit any other list.

More list worship

Sydney Smith’s twenty antidotes to depression
Ernest Hemingway’s list of twenty books we ought to read
Leo Tolstoy’s “Rules of Life”
Charles Darwin’s list on the pros and cons of marriage (and the importance of books)

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It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at

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