The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book

An Interactive Guide to Life-Changing Books

About The Book

From the creators of the Call Me Ishmael dial-in craze that swept the country, a quirky and entertaining compilation of real-life messages about the books that have changed our lives—perfect for book lovers everywhere.

One night in 2014, Logan Smalley and Stephanie Kent were in the middle of an in-depth conversation about their favorite literary opening lines. Both ardent readers, one advocated for “It was the best of times it was the worst of times.” The other suggested, “All this happened more or less.” But then, one phrase came immediately to mind, “Call me Ishmael.”

As the conversation continued, the pair began to wonder what others had to say about their favorite books. They began a social experiment inviting strangers to leave a voicemail regarding the books that impacted their lives. But who would they be calling? Ishmael, of course. Soon they had a working phone number, and the calls—compelling, touching, and surprising—began to come in. As word spread, the voicemail count began to surpass just their family and friends. Deciding to take it one step further, Stephanie and Logan built rotary phones which could be placed in libraries, schools, and bookstores, allowing readers to customize and listen to pre-loaded voicemails.

Thousands of readers, librarians, and students began to call from all across the country sharing the stories that changed their lives. From renowned classics like The Catcher in the Rye to poetry from Mary Oliver and from children’s books like Sandra Boynton’s Pajama Time to conversation starters like Let the Great World Spin, it was clear without a doubt that books change lives. The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book collects these messages from book lovers everywhere, all organized by category, into this must-have collection that belongs on every coffee table or nightstand and makes a perfect gift for any bibliophile—and will leave you fondly thinking about the books that have changed your own life.

About The Authors

Logan Smalley is the founding director of TED’s youth and education initiative, TED-Ed—an award-winning website, content format, and program offering that serves millions of teachers and students every day. Prior to working for TED, Logan was selected as a TED Fellow for his roles as director, editor, and composer of the nonprofit, feature-length film, Darius Goes West (28 film festival awards, 2007). Logan is also a cofounder of— a creative, participatory literary initiative that was an honoree for the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize in 2015. Logan began his career as a special education teacher in his hometown of Athens, GA, and he currently lives and works in New York City. He holds a BEd in Special Education from the University of Georgia, and an EdM in Technology Innovation and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Stephanie Kent is a writer, multimedia producer, and former host of the literary radio show on Anchor. She is currently Special Projects Director on the Webby Award–winning Masters of Scale podcast, and led The Wall Street Journal team in product management for their mobile-first news app. During her time on staff at TED she built community programs and brand engagement strategies. As a freelance producer, she works with startups and companies making the world a better place, including Singularity University, National Geographic, The Emerson Collective, and XPRIZE, among others. She was awarded a 2017 Creative Community Fellowship with National Arts Strategies Foundation and holds a BA in Playwriting and Literature from Emerson College. Steph writes a weekly newsletter on creativity, and is a competitive boxer.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (October 13, 2020)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982140595

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