“Wonderful." —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of storytelling phenomenon The Moth, 45 unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, drawn from the best ever told on their stages
Carefully selected by the creative minds at The Moth, and adapted to the page to preserve the raw energy of live storytelling,
All These Wonders features voices both familiar and new. Alongside Meg Wolitzer, John Turturro, Tig Notaro, and Hasan Minhaj, readers will encounter: an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, an Afghan refugee learning how much her father sacrificed to save their family, a hip-hop star coming to terms with being a “one-hit wonder,” a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s “secret army” during World War II, and more.
High-school student and neuroscientist alike, the storytellers share their ventures into uncharted territory—and how their lives were changed indelibly by what they discovered there. With passion, and humor, they encourage us all to be more open, vulnerable, and alive.
“Some [stories] are heartbreakingly sad; some laugh-out-loud funny; some momentous and tragic; almost all of them resonant or surprising. They are stories that attest to the startling varieties and travails of human experience, and the shared threads of love, loss, fear and kindness that connect us."
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
All These Wonders is replete with wondrous true stories of loves, losses, rerouted dreams, and existential crises of nearly every unsugarcoated flavor."
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
“[The Moth] has this indescribable energy that comes with people allowing themselves to be honest without fear. Translated to the page, this book…really becomes an incredible syllabus of vulnerability, one that invites you to cherry pick and re-read stories as you need them.”
—Goop (16 Great Reads for the Summer)
All These Wonders is a compelling read, by turns uplifting, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive. If there is a real hero of the book, it is surely the human spirit, which, time and again, transcends whatever life throws at it.”
"The stories are gripping, insightful, addictive.... [It''s] hard not to laugh, cry, or be a little moved by each one."
“All These Wonders is divided into seven expertly curated chapters. The effect is an anthology of seven Mainstage shows, averaging six stories per show. Each juxtaposes sensational stories by famous names...with those by relatively unknown storytellers, whose narratives, quite often, deliver the biggest emotional punches.”
—Megan Labrise, Kirkus Reviews
All These Wonders is a journey through the mysteries of the unexpected.... Every tale is its own surprising glimpse into the human story.”
—Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon
"The Moth''s 20-year retrospective contains all the hope, sadness, triumphs, and tribulations that have defined the pioneering live reading series since its modest debut in 1997.... Overall, the two decades of the Moth remain as entertaining and powerful off-stage as they were onstage."
"[The stories] are all arresting tales."
—Buffalo News (Editor''s Choice)
"[The Moth is] New York''s hottest and hippest literary ticket."
—Wall Street Journal
THE MOTH is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. Inspired by friends telling stories on a small-town Georgia porch, The Moth garnered a cult following in New York City, and then rose to international acclaim with the wildly popular podcast and Peabody Award–winning weekly public radio show The Moth Radio Hour (produced by Jay Allison and presented by PRX.) The Moth is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is the story, and The Moth''s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape, and present it. Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented tens of thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. The Moth received a 2012 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, and
The Moth: 50 True Stories (Hachette) was an international best seller.
MY GRANDFATHER’S SHOES
I’m gonna let y’all know now, I’m a preacher’s kid. I grew up in the church. I swear I have only missed, like, two Sundays out of my whole sixteen years of life.
My grandfather, he was a minister. And he was my best friend. He was the person I could talk to about anything and everything.
I’m sixteen now, but when I was ten, I wanted to be the kid who had anything anybody else had. I was the friend that, like, if you got the new video game—I had
that video game but also another one . . . that was just about to come out . . . that you ain’t know about.
So one day my friend came outside. He had these ugly, ugly sneakers on.
I was like, “Yo, bro, I got those, man! That ain’t nothing . . . I already got those.”
He was like, “A’ight . . . prove it!”
I didn’t have them.
So my grandfather, being a minister, he gets the money out of the collection plate. And I knew where he put the money.
So I went upstairs, and I took the money. I did. It was like two hundred dollars. And I went on Third Avenue in the Bronx, and I bought the sneakers, and I went home.
I walk in, and my grandfather, he’s going off. He found out the money was missing.
He was screaming at my uncle, “Why would you steal my money?!”
My uncle’s like, “I didn’t touch your money. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I should tell y’all that all the way home walking, I was talking junk.
I’m with my cousin, and I’m like, “Yeah, when my grandpa asks me where I got the sneakers from . . . I’m gonna lie. I’m gonna say I got ’em from you.”
And he’s like, “Ain’t gonna work.”
So I walk in, and my grandpa’s going off . . . and I froze. I was like,
Oh . . . he mad.
And he said, “Christian! Come here!”
I was like, “Huh?”
He said, “Where’d you get those sneakers?”
And I was like, “Funny story . . . uh . . . I went in your briefcase and got the money . . . yeah . . .”
He said, “How much money did you take?”
I said, “About two hundred dollars.”
“About two hundred dollars.”
“Boy, are you
And then he said some very hard words. He said, “I will never be able to trust you again, but one day you are going to repay me for the money you took. I don’t know how, I don’t know when. But you are going to repay me.”
I cried. It was terrible.
Fast-forward a couple of years. I’m a drummer. I played the drums on the radio for Al Sharpton. And he paid me good. And have you ever had that thing where you start thinking about something and your mind goes [
That’s when I was like,
I remember Grandpa said I’m gonna repay him.
So I didn’t get McDonald’s for two weeks in a row. And with that, plus my money from drumming, I got the money to pay him back. I put it in an envelope, and I took my grandpa out to dinner at his favorite place: Crown Donut on 161st Street.
At first he was skeptical that I was taking him out.
He said, “You got somebody pregnant?”
I was only thirteen, I don’t know what he was talking about. I was like, “No,
of course not! Don’t be
So we got our food, and I had on a coat—it was cold; it was early November. And so I took the money out of my side pocket and put it on the table.
I was like, “It’s all there.”
And he looked, and he said, “What’s this?”
I said, “You said you didn’t know how, but I was gonna repay you. And I just repaid you.”
And we started crying and hugging.
He said, “Aw, I love you.”
“I love you, too, Grandpa.”
And I’m just glad that I got the chance to fulfill what my grandfather said, and pay him back and earn his trust back, because he said, “You know what? You surprised me. I’m proud of you. I trust you again.”
And that was the last thing he ever told me, because two weeks after that he died.
I found out he didn’t get to spend the money.
And I was mad at my grandma, because I knew she had the money. I didn’t know what she did with it.
And so a couple of days go by; we made funeral arrangements, I still didn’t know where the money went.
But I went to go view the body, and my grandma, she stopped me, she said, “Chris?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She said, “You see that suit and them shoes he’s got on?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She said, “Your money paid for that.”
And the expression on my face was like,
I was so proud that, number one: I got my trust back from my grandpa, and number two, he was stuntin’ in the suit and shoes
I bought him.