The Heirloomist

100 Treasures and the Stories They Tell

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Pub Date 30 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 29 Apr 2024

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A warm, inviting celebration of beloved keepsakes and the stories they hold.

A set of old apartment keys, a pair of worn running shoes, a declaration of love scribbled on a restaurant receipt. Beautiful stories that celebrate the power an object can hold are at the heart of The Heirloomist by photographer Shana Novak, creator of the project of the same name dedicated to documenting keepsakes and transforming them into uniquely meaningful works of art. The 100 objects featured here range from the everyday to the extraordinary. Treasured heirlooms to their owners, ordinary folks and cultural figures alike, they hold remarkable stories such as:

  • Nora McInerny on the fork that began her relationship with her late husband.
  • The sculpture that inspired Christy Turlington to fight for maternal healthcare.
  • The charm bracelet Nate Berkus gifted his daughter in stylish family tradition.
  • Rosanne Cash’s love for her children represented by baby shoes.
  • Andrew Zimmern’s inherited steel carving set that began a storied career in food.

Big or small, expensive or humble, we all have meaningful items with powerful messages behind them. Celebratory, sentimental, and bursting with heart, The Heirloomist offers a glimpse into the treasures we hold dear and how they inform the stories of our lives.

A warm, inviting celebration of beloved keepsakes and the stories they hold.

A set of old apartment keys, a pair of worn running shoes, a declaration of love scribbled on a restaurant receipt...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781797224404
PRICE $27.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 17 members

Featured Reviews

Interesting story as someone who has been helping people declutter, find value and also understand their collections,

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I love the idea of this book, that everyday things can be filled with memories and meaning. There are sports jerseys and military uniforms and a pair of candlesticks that were baked into a loaf of bread, but my favorite items from the book are the ones that seem so much less likely. The stories I loved best were about an interoffice envelope and a fork. I love the idea that some things are special and have meaning that wouldn't be obvious to anyone who doesn't know the story. It got me thinking about what's in my own home and which stories are just for me (because I'm the only one who would ever care) and which ones I should make sure my children know.

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Such a fun book. I really enjoyed reading through all of the background stories that accompany the photos of the items. I was surprised to see an Heirloom item from someone in Mississippi. Such a great read!

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This book is everything. Absolutely everything.

Tales of mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, spouses, lovers, lifelong friends.

Ten years ago, I was wandering around Zagreb, Croatia and happened upon The Museum of Broken Relationships. It was the initial blaring of The Smiths on vinyl that lured me in, but it was the story of a single tangible item that connected the irrevocably separated couples that completely captivated me.

Sometimes, it's a simple tactile item that connect our dots, which we ultimately save and will cherish our entire lives.

This book celebrates these ordinary items and gives them an extraordinary existence.

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The concept of heirlooms is something that has been top of mind for me in the last few years as my family has coped with multiple losses of our elders and kin. My home is currently filled with things that connect me to those who have gone before me, all of them keeping a story that is a thread of my past. Reading this incredibly tender and joyous work by Shana Novak has given me some ideas on how to share those stories with the younger generations in my family.

Novak has carefully selected heirlooms and stories that that reveal everything from secrets to prosaic moments in the past that shaped those featured in each section. This is a book to be savored and shared, and will undoubtedly get the reader to take stock of the memories and history they have shoved into the back of a long-forgotten closet. If anything, this book made me pull out my grandmother’s old silver, polish it up and place it in my every-day utensil drawer.

Highly recommended.

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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a nice coffee table-esque book.

The book has high-quality pictures of various heirlooms and objects from people along with a story about the item or the person it came from and why it's an heirloom. There's lots of different things that people talk about and share why it brings meaning to them. The book feels a bit repetitive after a while, but there are lots of peoples stories to read through.

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LOVED this book. Such a unique idea on such simple, everyday items. I'm the keeper of my family history, and it always bothers me when I see normal items and wonder..."what is the story?" The author must have thought the same because here are my thoughts in book form. Highly recommended.
Thank you to Chronicle Books and NetGalley for a digital ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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I was provided an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Shana Novak's "The Heirloomist" offers a captivating visual journey that reveals the extraordinary stories behind cherished objects. Through stunning photography, Novak beautifully captures the essence of each heirloom, transforming them into timeless artifacts that tell tales of love, history, and sentiment. This unique and heartwarming collection serves as a testament to the enduring power of objects to carry the weight of personal narratives, making "The Heirloomist" a delightful celebration of the stories woven into the fabric of our lives.

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The Heirloomist is a very interesting book to browse through, stop at an item and read the story behind the photograph.
It is full of beautiful images of a huge variety of heirlooms belonging to various people who tell the always interesting and often surprising stories behind them.

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Will definitely be selling this one in my store! Love the whole concept & it rings true with what we stand for and strive for. Thank you for allowing me an advanced copy!

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This was a beautiful book about the things we choose to keep, the memories they hold, and the impact they have on our lives. The stories were well presented and the photography was beautiful and engaging.

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Sentimental and beautiful but incredibly challenging to read at some points. As a mother to small children, I had a hard time reading about stories where children have passed. With that said, it was still incredible to see how the parents continued on with their childs’ memory through their heirlooms. Though these treasures were often gathered after losing a loved one, the author did a great job of portraying the hope that each of these people continued to have even after the passing of somebody they cherished.

I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I really love this book. I never thought about it much but I guess I am the Heirloomist for our family. Reading Shana Novak's book was so enjoyable. It explored what I have been feeling for a long time. These pieces have history. These pieces have a story, a story that should be told. I enjoyed the photographs so much and the narrative that goes with each picture is delightful. It breathes life into inanimate objects. Those things that some would say 'why are you holding on to that?' They are the stories of our ancestors and they should be told. We don't necessarily hold on to things because they have monetary value. We hold on to them because they tell a story and have emotional value and sometimes that is so important.
I would like Shana Novak not only for writing and photographing this book but for letting me put a name to how I feel about certain objects. I would also like to thank Chronical Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The Heirloomist

4 Stars

This was a beautiful book about the things we choose to keep, the memories they hold, and the impact they have on our lives.

I'm a visual person, so I found the photography stunning and very engaging. I found some areas of this book more challenging to read. As a mother, I had the hardest time reading about stories about children who have passed. For similar reasons, I'm not a pediatric nurse. Overall, I found this book very interesting. It's a pretty good book.

Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with a digital ARC for an honest review.

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