Public Speaking

Mandy Shunnarah is a published writer and storyteller. Here are videos of some of her live events.

"Some people are haunted by the past, others are haunted by ghosts, but I am haunted by libraries." So begins the tale of my 15-year library saga with overdue books, too-friendly librarians, and finding my calling. It'll make you wonder why I ever wanted to be a librarian.

Writer, storyteller, and professional book nerd, Mandy Shunnarah, details the trials and tribulations of trying to find grape leaves that taste as good as her dead Palestinian grandmother's.


Writer Mandy Shunnarah performing her story "Revenge of the Prepositions" at Story Club Columbus, a live storytelling event, at The Rambling House in Columbus, Ohio on December 5, 2017.


The 15-Year Library Saga

"Some people are haunted by the past. Others are haunted by ghosts. But I am haunted by libraries." 

So begins Mandy's tale of her 15-year library saga, in which she borrows books as a 9-year-old and keeps them for a decade, running up a triple digit library fine. The overdue library books give her nightmares of being arrested, keep her away from libraries (despite being a book lover) and ultimately lead her to pursue a master's degree in library and information science.

This story was told to a crowd of 250+ in Birmingham, AL in January 2015.


The Never-Ending Quest for Good Grape Leaves

When you're half Southern redneck and half Palestinian, trying to find decent grape leaves that taste even half as good as your dead grandma's means eating a whole lot of not-great grape leaves. 

The theme for the storytellers that night was "American" and if redneck grape leaves aren't a melting pot, I don't know what is.

This story was told to a crowd of ~30 people in Columbus, OH in July 2018. 


Revenge of the Prepositions

When you have one English teacher that makes you memorize a list of the prepositions in alphabetical order and another that's convinced you're worthless, it really makes you wonder why I later became an English major. 

But after years of wondering "when am I ever going to use this?" and finally getting to use all that rote memorization in an epic way, I can tell you that revenge is sweet. 

This story was told to a crowd of ~40 people at Columbus, OH in December 2017. 

Writer Mandy Shunnarah reads an abridged version of her award-winning creative nonfiction story "Plucking Chin Hairs" at New Southerner Magazine's winter 2017 issue launch at The Bard's Town Theater in Louisville, KY, January 28, 2017.

"Hellman's and the Hell Child," a humorous creative nonfiction story by writer Mandy Shunnarah, as performed at Story Club Columbus' May 2017 show at Rambling House Soda in Columbus, OH, May 10, 2017.


A live reading of my essay "Grape Leaves" as published in The Rumpus. The event took place on Dec. 13, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio to a crowd of ~65.


A spontaneous and unprepared story of best friendship. This video was taken at a storytelling event at Storyville, an event at the Upper Arlington Library in Columbus, Ohio.

Plucking Chin Hairs

Mandy Shunnarah's creative nonfiction essay, "Plucking Chin Hairs" won Honorable Mention for nonfiction in New Southerner Magazine's annual contest in 2016. She did a live reading of the story at New Southerner's launch party for issue of the magazine in which the story appears.

Chocked full of hilarity, Southernisms, creative curses, and murder, "Plucking Chin Hairs" is at once a tribute to her inimitable great-grandmother and a homage to the act of storytelling.

This story was told to a crowd of ~40 in Louisville, KY in January 2017.


Hellman's and The Hell Child

There are many reasons not to have kids and some of them are funny. Mandy's reasons include neurotic children on ferris wheels and epic amounts of mayonnaise.

This humorous tale begins with Mandy deciding she didn't want children as a 7-year-old and that decision being hilariously reiterated when she was 15. And why, these days, she's content to be a cool aunt. 

This story was told to a crowd of ~50 in Columbus, OH in May 2017. 


Grape Leaves

The room was dark, but the crowd’s energy was bright! This was a live reading of Mandy’s essay “Grape Leaves” as published in The Rumpus.

The essay is about food, family, horticulture, and trying to make traditions your own.

This reading was to a crowd of ~65 in Columbus, OH in December 2018.


My Best Friend of 23 Years

(The beginning was cut off. The first sentence is: "I've had the same best friend for 23 years.")

Lucky are those who have had the same best friend since childhood. I met my best friend in kindergarten when we were 5 years old and we’re still best friends today. This is the story of how we met.

This completely spontaneous and unplanned story was told to a crowd of ~15 in Columbus, OH in July 2019.


Mandy Shunnarah doesn't just read awkwardly onstage.
If you'd like to invite her to your storytelling/reading event, reach out via her contact form.