While perusing a yard sale where they found an antique locket with the inscription “My Love Forever,” Naomi Wax and Bill Shapiro got to thinking, Does everyone have one possession that tells a remarkable story? Turns out that many of us do. In their new book, What We Keep: 150 People Share the One Object That Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning (Running Press, out Sept. 25), the co-authors share stories and photos of treasures— from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s 2011 NBA championship trophy to the anonymous person who keeps a motel key “to remember that night.”
“Of all the people we spoke with, not one chose an object because of its dollar value,” says Shapiro. “Our hearts are not accountants; we cling to the meaningful, not the monetary.” Here are some of our favorite keepsakes featured in the book.
“My ‘strat’ [straw hat I wore at boarding school in England] brings up the most delicious Dickensian memories. It’s this absolute tangible reminder that my life was once that weird and that old-fashioned.”—Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator
“The shame about being poor goes all the way back, and having a glorious shell [pincushion that belonged to my mom] was the opposite of that.”—Cheryl Strayed, Wildauthor and Dear Sugarspodcast co-host
“This Apple III was a gift from my father, who was an engineer working with NASA [when I was about 16]. I spent hours in my room playing games and learning to code. After I took a job at Microsoft, I had the Apple III sent to Seattle because it reminded me of how a computer changed my life.” —Melinda Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“Ali’s glove represents a great part of my life. Being assigned to shoot a world heavyweight title wght, getting the best seat in the house, having my pictures on the cover of Sports Illustrated and getting paid for it? I used to pinch myself and think, I should be paying them!”—Neil Leifer, photographer>` w>iÀ
“That the cup [my mom gave me] looked like me—it was one of the earliest things I had with a brown face—well, that was something. It’s been on my dressing table for years.”—Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress