Erin McHugh had spent many years doing her share of community work, before the minutiae of daily life eventually kept her too busy for those higher impulses. Then one day she learned a distant relative was actually going to be canonized. Was this a sign to reevaluate her priorities? What followed next was Erin’s wish to recapture a sense of charity, and so she set out on her birthday to do one good deed every day for an entire year. Maybe she wouldn’t be saving orphans from burning buildings or raising enough money to erase the national debt, but she wanted to take one small, daily detour and make someone else’s life just a little bit better. ONE GOOD DEED is the inspiring, smart, and frequently funny chronicle of a year when Erin tried to reclaim the better part of herself, with the hope of inspiring others to do the same.

What people are saying about ONE GOOD DEED:

“Engaging, funny, wise, and winning. ONE GOOD DEED is a measure of humanity and of McHugh’s own striving towards it.” — Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief

“This instructive, funny, utterly relevant book reminds us that the simple act of paying daily attention can make a profound difference—to the world around us, and to our very selves.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion: A Memoir

“I was afraid when I read One Good Deed that it was going to make me feel guilty or lazy, but it didn’t. It made me feel there were little things I could do to improve the world. Erin McHugh is one wise, funny, smart woman, and her book is a blast to read!” —Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof

“One Good Deed” is original, sweet-natured and often funny… Erin McHugh makes us ordinary mortals feel like real heels.” — Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling and The Ten-Year Nap

“I loved this book. It’s charming and high-spirited and then it sneaks up from behind and breaks/mends your heart!” — Susan Cheever, writer, teacher, and author of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography

“Erin McHugh spent one year performing ONE GOOD DEED a day and recording her experiences. The result, this lovely, heartfelt book, shows humanity at its very best. Sometimes her good deeds are small and go unnoticed; other times, they’re quite important, and will bring a sting of tears to the reader’s eyes. Perhaps McHugh will start a trend. We could certainly do with more people like her in the world.” — Kaylie Jones, author of Lies My Mother Never Told Me: A Memoir

“In Erin McHugh’s inspiring book – so gently, so directly written from her gentle, direct heart – she tells us at one point to make someone feel visible. I felt more visible myself as I read it for she sees quite clearly what we all need – to be shown that showing kindness to others is showing kindness to ourselves. McHugh grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, an old whaling village whose proud motto from its whaling days was ‘Lucem Diffundo’ which means ‘We light the world.’ New Bedford native McHugh honors her roots with this book. She has put some light in the world with her words.” — Kevin Sessums, author Mississippi Sissy

“The best book in the world…because it makes us our best.” — Nichole Bernier, author of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

$18.95 in hardcover. You can order it at your local independent bookstore,, and

9 Responses to ONE GOOD DEED: The Book

  1. julie says:

    For Christmas my dearest friend purchased each of us a copy of One Good Deed with the understanding that we would read it daily. We started sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day. (She taped a penny to my book on Dec. 30th, so I’m going to say that was our start date. That part was a bit strange… starting in the middle of a book!) No matter, the entries have been a joy to read, and what has made it even more special has been the quick e-mail (subject line: One Good Deed) that she and I share when an entry touches us. I decided to look you up today to see if you did speaking engagements/book signings. Without sounding too “stalkerish”, have I overlooked a published calendar with such listings?

    • Hi, Julie —

      Thanks so much for your lovely note — it seemed sort of odd starting the year of good deeds on my birthday in July, too, but I’m sure you, like I did, got into the groove quickly. Turns out the start date doesn’t matter, does it?

      There is no calendar, but I do love doing events. I have your email, so I’ll shoot you mine right now. Thanks again, and you and your friend should always feel free to post your deeds here in the “Your Good Deed” section.

  2. Cathy says:

    Could not put it down, just finished, loved it! For me, it is a womderful way to celebrate how we can interact with one another and leave that moment feeling so positive. By either saying or doing something or by keeping quiet, love those moments! I also enjoyed reading about St. Andre Bessette and his devotion to St. Joseph. I was curious about St. Andre’s life and looked him up. His life and yours are patterned similarly, small acts done over time become enormous gifts and blessings for many. Thank you both!

    • Well, Cathy, this is the first and surely the last time I’ll be compared to Brother — I mean, Saint — Andre! Wait until I tell Aunt Tessie! As you read in the book, she remembers him from when she was a little girl. I’ll ask her if she sees any similarities! Thank you for your kind words, and I’m just thrilled you loved the book. Pass the word — and keep passing on the good deeds!

  3. Huge, big, HUGE news here tomorrow! Watch the One Good Deed blog for more — that’s October 11!

  4. deb says:

    Sounds wonderful and would maybe spur me on to journal more. Also I can use laughter more also, who can’t. deb

    • Who can’t is right. Hope it does spur you on. Seems if you can just keep up the regularity of something, it pays off. I’ve found even if you sit by yourself in front of a blank page every day, eventually you write something down. So maybe you delete a lot of it/ Eventually, something sticks.

  5. Deb Jolliff says:

    Can’t wait to get this book!

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