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6 books to start off 2016

Posted on January 5, 2016

Books 2016

Okay, I’m devoting this first week of the new year to books. I’m determined to get back into my reading habit this year, and I know so many of you feel the same way.

Yesterday I posted my interview with Elizabeth Gilbert about Big Magic. If you have the itsy bitsy slightest desire to do something creative – write, paint, sew, whatever – but you have come up with a million reasons why you can’t do it, YOU MUST READ HER BOOK. And, lucky for you, I’m giving away a copy so go enter now and then come back here. I’ll wait.

I read a lot of books last year – mostly while traveling, which may actually be part of the appeal of travel writing for me – but I’m only going to write about the ones I recommend. Life is too short to waste on negative reviews and attention spans are too short for books that are mediocre.

So, here are half a dozen books to curl up with while El Nino keeps you housebound. I tried to cover different genres so there’s something to fit any mood. As always, please let me know what you’re reading. more »

my interview with elizabeth gilbert and a “big magic” giveaway

Posted on January 3, 2016

Big Magic

Could there be a better way to start the new year than with Big Magic?

I’ve been a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert since I discovered Eat Pray Love  — long before it became EAT PRAY LOVE — and audibly gasped when I saw the three words that pretty much guide my life. Her novel, The Signature of All Things, is the book that made me passionate about reading again during a disturbing dry spell, and I’ve seen her speak at two Oprah events and, most recently, in San Diego at a sold-out event I wrote about for the Del Mar Times.

Her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, is another must-read but for different reasons. Her self-proclaimed “manifesto” is a guide to getting rid of all the excuses that are holding you back from being the creative person you want to be.

I finished it in a day and have recommended it to so many friends who have also gobbled it up and thanked me for this life-changing book. It’s the kind of book where you nod your head, and end up highlighting almost every sentence. It’s profound and practical and written as though your best friend is talking to you.

In my head, Elizabeth Gilbert is my best friend so doing a phone interview with her was absolutely one of the highlights of last year for me. Although the book came out in September, I wanted this interview to be my first post of 2016 so her words would inspire you to read Big Magic, stop making excuses and get out there and do the thing that makes you happy. Because inspiring is one of Gilbert’s great gifts.

Speaking of gifts, I’m also giving away a copy of Big Magic to one lucky subscriber so be sure to read the rules to enter after you read what Liz (yes, we are BFFs now) has to say: more »

isabel allende and words alive by elin stebbins waldal

Posted on December 14, 2015

Isabel Allende with Seth Lerer

One of my favorite events of the year is the annual Words Alive author luncheon. Last year, I got to listen to — and talk to! — Anna Quindlen, and previous keynotes have included big names from Alice Hoffman and Chris Bohjalian to Jane Smiley and Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

Words Alive is a fantastic non-profit organization whose mission is “to open opportunities for life success by inspiring a commitment to reading.”

I was disappointed that I had to miss this year’s luncheon because it took place while Michael and I were on our Viking River Cruise through the Heart of Germany. Thankfully, my good friend, Elin Stebbins Waldal, happily took my place so she could share her experience with you. more »

“joni mitchell: in her own words”

Posted on November 7, 2015

Joni Mitchell

Happy birthday, Joni Mitchell!

Like many women of my generation, I can pretty much define an entire period of my life through Joni Mitchell songs.

I remember spending hours lying on my twin bed listening to Blue and Court and Spark over and over again, wondering how she could possibly have seen my diary and put my thoughts and emotions to music, expressing them so much more articulately – and beautifully.

So I was excited to read Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words, which comprises a series of interviews she did over the years with her friend, Malka Marom. And that friendship brings a depth to the interviews that makes you feel like you really get to know Joni Mitchell. more »

my best advice in six words

Posted on November 4, 2015

The Best Advice in Six Words

I got a very nice email the other day saying, “We’re delighted to feature your words in the latest book from the SixWord series, The Best Advice in Six Words. Your advice was selected from tens of thousands of memoirs in consideration via sixwordmemoirs.comFacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, and Quora.”


more »

back by popular demand: boxes of books!

Posted on October 24, 2015

books on counter

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I did the last Boxes of Books promotion! Sorry! No wonder my house looks like it’s been turned into a library! (Note: That photo is from last time and doesn’t even begin to show how many books I actually am ready to send you.)

Many of you have been sending me gentle reminders to get moving with this so here you go, my fellow book lovers.

All you have to do to get a big fat box filled with great winter night reading is follow these steps: more »

talking about “room” with author emma donoghue

Posted on October 22, 2015

Emma Donoghue

I got to see Room the other night in New York, and say hi to author Emma Donoghue, who was doing a Q&A after the screening. The movie was excellent, thanks to powerful performances by Brie Larson and 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay, and a screenplay written by Donoghue herself.

I will be reviewing the movie next week when it opens in San Diego — and if you live here or have friends in the area, make sure you all subscribe to my newsletter because I’m sending out an invitation to see the movie ahead of time — but, meanwhile, I thought I’d re-post my interview with Donoghue from 2011 to get you in the mood.

If you haven’t read the book yet, GO READ IT NOW! more »

“the paris key” book review and giveaway!

Posted on September 2, 2015

The Paris Key

If you didn’t get to take the vacation you wanted this summer, don’t worry. The Paris Key will whisk you away to the City of Light – and probably get you booking flights for next year. more »

my interview with author linda castillo – plus a book giveaway!

Posted on July 10, 2015

Castillo, Linda_CREDIT Pam Lary_her last breath

I’m so excited I got to interview Linda Castillo about her new thriller, After the Storm, because I love all her books and pretty much stay up all night reading every time she publishes a new one.

After the Storm is the latest in her Kate Burkholder series, which takes place in Ohio’s Amish country. It’s another nail biter, and the whole idea of terrible things happening in a society that doesn’t even believe in electricity is fascinating.

Read my interview with Linda, then enter to win a copy of After the Storm. more »

“blueprints” by barbara delinsky book review and giveaway!

Posted on June 15, 2015


How in the world have I never read anything by Barbara Delinsky before??

Apparently, she’s written twenty one bestsellers, which makes me very happy since I finished her new novel, Blueprints, in one weekend and now want more. more »

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