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Archives - May 2016

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of attending Random House’s seventh Big Ideas Night --- the latest in the series, which offers readers a forum for conversations between writers and editors of popular, recently released books.
Before she was a New York Times bestselling author, Beatriz Williams was a rule-abiding kid with nary a rebellious bone in her body. But the one rule she broke --- and was somehow able to get away with under her mother’s careful watch --- was reading a book after bedtime. In our final Mother’s Day Author Blog entry, Beatriz considers her mother’s uncharacteristic leniency in that instance and why she extends the same clemency to her own kids. And be sure to check out her latest book, A CERTAIN AGE, when it releases on June 28th.
Ruth Wariner did not have a typical childhood: Raised by a polygamist family on a ramshackle farm in rural LeBaron, Mexico, she was the 39th of her father's 42 children, who managed to escape the narrow world of her childhood and explore on her own terms. One thing she always carries with her, though, is the memory of her mother reading, with solemn precision, the wondrous stories of the Bible and tirelessly encouraging her own budding curiosity. You can read all about Ruth’s fascinating life in her memoir, THE SOUND OF GRAVEL.
Although Mary Volmer and her mother experienced vastly different childhoods, they have one sure thing in common: a deep and abiding passion for reading. Her mother grew up roaming the American West, the daughter of ranch workers, who stopped moving in order to have a family and a home of her own. But even though she’ll never know the girl her mother once was, Mary never stops searching for her in the books she loves. Mary’s latest book, RELIANCE, ILLINOIS --- set in the late 19th century, the story of a girl marked since birth, who finds her place in the world as the aide to a brilliant suffragette --- is now available.
Last Friday, The Book Report Network’s Carol Fitzgerald, Nicole Sherman and I took some time out of our busy schedules to treat ourselves to a day at Random House for their Spring Open House event. My dear friends --- and avid readers --- Vivian Payton, Elena Payton and Mary Wegner were also in attendance, as was Carol’s friend, Beverley Wilson. This was my fifth time attending the event, and, as always, it did not disappoint.
Martha Hall Kelly’s debut novel, LILAC GIRLS --- the remarkable story of unsung women and their quest for love, freedom and second chances ---was inspired by a real-life World War II heroine. Turns out, it’s not only her writing that was inspired by a strong woman; her reading was, as well. Here, Martha talks about her late mother, who prioritized reading in her own life, and passed on to her children and grandchildren a great love for all books --- although none so much as E. B. White’s classic CHARLOTTE’S WEB.
For Helen Simonson --- the bestselling author of MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND --- reading was a beloved family ritual, one that included weekly trips to the library and chores done in exchange for an extra hour with a book. Thanks in no small part to her mother, Helen passed on her love of books to her own children…even if they’re not always surprised by the rectangular-shaped gifts she gives. Her latest novel, THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR --- a love story set on the eve of World War I --- is now available.
Elizabeth J. Church practiced law for over 30 years, and her debut novel, THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE, is proof that it’s never too late to pursue one’s dreams. It’s a moving story of ambition and identity, and the women who sacrificed their careers so that their husbands could pursue their own. It’s also a story that will ring familiar to any woman who has had to choose between what she loves and who she loves. Elizabeth’s own mother, a brilliant biologist, faced similar obstacles, but was ultimately able to pursue her own dreams --- and encourage a fierce, ever-growing love of reading in her daughter along the way.
We are very excited to kick off our seventh annual Mother’s Day Author Blog series with Viola Shipman --- award-winning memoirist Wade Rouse, writing under a pen name --- whose debut novel, THE CHARM BRACELET, couldn’t be a more perfect place to start. It’s the story of three women who rediscover the importance of family as an heirloom charm bracelet changes their lives. Here, Viola warmly recounts early memories of reading with her mother and grandmothers, women who inspired not only her love of books, but her first novel as well.