SAM TORODE

All content © 2022 Sam Torode


On my father’s side, I’m a distant relation of Henry David Thoreau (Torode and Thoreau are alternate spellings of the same family name, originating on the Isle of Guernsey). My dad’s parents valued high culture; both played instruments in the Louisville Symphony and other orchestras. On my mother’s side, my ancestors were hardscrabble Texas farmers, Southern Baptist preachers, and old-time county musicians who played banjo, fiddle, and guitar. I see the mixture of these contrasting family heritages in my own life and work.


In college, I double-majored in Art and American Studies, and aspired to be a professional illustrator while writing on the side. After graduation, I worked as a book and magazine designer, and contributed illustrations and cartoons—as well as essays—to various publications. Two of my cartoons were selected for The Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year (2004 and 2006).


As time went on, I focused less on art and more on writing. In 2007 I finished my novel, The Dirty Parts of the Bible. It’s a mashup of two inspirations: the ancient Jewish story of Tobias and Sarah (from the apocryphal Book of Tobit) and my grandparents’ stories of growing up in Texas during the Great Depression.


After Dirty Parts was rejected by over one hundred publishers, I self-published it in 2010. Readers voted it a semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and it went on to become a #1 bestseller in humorous fiction. I’m extremely grateful that it found its audience.


Next, I found that I enjoyed reading philosophical books and “translating” their ideas into simple language, which led to a series of books paraphrasing classic authors like Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.


All of my books are self-designed. I put as much care into the physical appearance of a book as I do into the words.


My personal favorite is Living from the Soul: The 7 Spiritual Principles of Ralph Waldo Emerson. It conveys the core insight of Emerson and other visionaries: We are all expressions of the universal, infinite soul. If we ground our identity in the soul and think, speak, and act from that center of awareness, our lives will flower. This is the message I want to spread in the world.


I also enjoy singing and songwriting. I’ve performed Frank Sinatra tribute shows around Nashville, and recorded an album in 2015. My music page includes the songs I’ve written, some inspired by Great American Songbook and others in a classic country vein (reflecting my two favorite musical genres).


Finally, during the pandemic I started a podcast titled Living from the Soul (after the book). It’s available on Anchor (which distributes to iTunes, Spotify, and other podcast apps) and  YouTube.