Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Before I Die by Candy Chang

How do you review wishes and dreams? It's impossible to do that, so I can only share Candy Chang's  Before I Die. The author gave a gift to the world, and her idea continues to spread.

Following the death of a woman who had been a mother to her, Chang stenciled a wall in New Orleans. It said, "Before I Die I want to...", and that wall took on a life of its own. Anyone walking by could write on it. The neighbors wrote their dreams and wishes in chalk, and when the wall filled up, it was erased, and people continued. In that neighborhood, someone even stole the chalk, but the theft brought the neighborhood together as people bought more chalk, and watched over the wall. In every neighborhood where walls were erected, they brought people together.

Over four hundred walls have been built around the world, in Argentina, Jerusalem, Washington, D.C., Madrid, Australia, Berlin, China. Deserted buildings, walls, art centers have all become centers for expression.

Before I Die I want to..."not be forgotten", "see my parents again", "have a student come back and tell me it mattered", "drive Route 66", "let my walls come down". People said well-being, love, family, and travel were important to them. For some, the answer came quickly. Others had to think about what to write.

Chang's book is fascinating, and thought-provoking. I was lucky enough to see one of the walls in Indianaspolis at PLA. The walls are often temporary structures such as the one there. They will always make you think. What would I write? Or, most of all, what is important to me before I die?

Candy Chang's website is

Before I Die by Candy Chang. St. Martin's Griffin. 2013. ISBN 9781250020840 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Mason Canyon said...

What a fascinating idea. It would be an inspiring way to get people to stop in their otherwise hectic lives and give thought to what really matters.

Lesa said...

The book is fascinating, Mason. And, she has a TED talk, which I have not seen, talking about this. You're right. It certainly made me stop and think.

Libby Dodd said...

A marvelous idea. We all need reasons to stop and think about what really matters in our hurried lives.

Beth Hoffman said...

I must buy this book right away! It made me wonder about what I would write on a wall. What a wonderful way for people to connect and share.

Lesa said...

It is a marvelous idea, Libby. But, as Beth says, it makes me think about what I'd write, and I haven't decided.

Karen C said...

I just found a little bitty room on my TBR list to add this book! I'm not sure what I would write, but now I know I will be thinking about it. Thanks for sharing, Lesa.