18 Oct, 2019

A Peek into a Book by Rachel Hollis, Who Writes with Spunk, Attitude and Energy about What’s Actually Going on in her Life and Shares How She Does It All

October 18th, 2019|Tags: , |

Lately, I have been taken with books by young female dynamos: Tami Lahren's Never Play Dead captivated me in August, and now I have a new one to share: Girl, [...]

14 Jun, 2019

The Chore of Writing Book Reviews: Is Having to Read a Book Worth it?

June 14th, 2019|Tags: , , |

I just clicked the Send button to submit my last book review. Until now I told myself that this would be my last. I don't want to have to read [...]

9 Nov, 2018

Eyewitness Accounts for Today’s 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

November 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , |

The destruction of the synagogue in Reichenberg (Liberec), November 9-10, 1938 Last year I wrote about Remembering Kristallnacht in Liberec, which is featured in my book Jumping Over Shadows. [...]

5 May, 2016

Writing Exericse: A Startling Sound

May 5th, 2016|Tags: , , , , |

Have you ever been startled by a sound you had never heard before? Stopped in your tracks, wondering what the hell was going on? Felice Benuzzi's unique adventure memoir No [...]

2 Mar, 2016

A Navy Blue Sigh – Reading The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber

March 2nd, 2016|Tags: , , , |

"Eventually, I hear footsteps crunching along the side of the house through the glazed snow and my mother's navy blue sigh through the frozen air." from The Language of Baklava [...]

8 Dec, 2015

A Comfort Book – Ted Kooser’s Local Wonders

December 8th, 2015|Tags: , , |

The other day I cast about for a comfort book, something pleasant to read in the tub after a busy day. Usually that would mean an Agatha Christie mystery for [...]

21 Sep, 2015

A Memoir of the Pain of Suicide and the Gift of Siblings

September 21st, 2015|Tags: , |

Kelley reading at her book launch party at the Book Cellar in June September is Suicide Awareness Month, and on this occasion I want to present you with the beautiful [...]

7 May, 2015

Thank You, Abigail Thomas

May 7th, 2015|Tags: , , |

Once in a while a book comes along that is like an old armchair. You simply don't want to get up. You could read on and on until your butt [...]

24 Feb, 2015

Interview with Sarah Wildman

February 24th, 2015|Tags: , , , |

In December I interviewed Sarah Wildman about her book Paper Love. This was a particular privilege because Paper Love is my kind of story: figuring out what happened in a [...]

2 Oct, 2014

Deborah Levy’s Things I Don’t Want to Know

October 2nd, 2014|Tags: , |

Isn't this a great title? It's a great book, too; one of the most skillfully wrought I have read in a long time. Things I Don't Want to Know is [...]

30 Jun, 2014

Glen Finland on the Power of Storytelling

June 30th, 2014|Tags: , , |

Meeting other formidable writers is one of the great benefits of attending a writers residency. And so, last January, I had the great fortune of meeting Glen Finland during my [...]

23 Jun, 2014

The Power of Practice

June 23rd, 2014|Tags: , , |

While I am off amidst the frenzy and heat of the World Cup in Brazil, I leave you with a post on practice, inspired by Natalie Goldberg's newest book, The [...]

29 May, 2014

Living with Chronic Pain

May 29th, 2014|Tags: , |

I can't write about the book I recently finished and liked so much, Lynne Greenberg's The Body Broken, without going into my own experience of chronic pain, which is why [...]

14 Feb, 2014

Leaving Russia

February 14th, 2014|Tags: , , |

With the Winter Olympics currently happening in Sochi, Russia, it fits that my review of Maxim Shrayer's memoir Leaving Russia just appeared in the Jewish Book World. Thanks to this book, I feel [...]

11 Feb, 2014

Writing Down the Bones

February 11th, 2014|Tags: , |

Following up on yesterday's post, The Bookshelves of Others, the book I spotted in the bookcase in my bedroom at VCCA was Natalie Goldberg's classic Writing Down the Bones. I entertained [...]

1 Jan, 2014

Looking Back: My Most Meaningful Read of 2013

January 1st, 2014|Tags: , , |

My most meaningful read of 2013 was, without a doubt, Julia Cameron's The Right to Write. It transformed my understanding of the creative process; it has me writing Morning Pages [...]

17 Nov, 2013

Sunday Sentence

November 17th, 2013|Tags: , |

Another Sunday in which I participate in the Sunday Sentence Project (#SundaySentence on Twitter): "Books don't make a home - they are one, in the sense that just as you do [...]

26 Sep, 2013

Shocked by Patricia Volk

September 26th, 2013|Tags: , |

My review of Patricia Volk's Shocked is my first review of a memoir for the Jewish Book World. I looked forward to this assignment because I have a thing for the French fashion [...]

29 Aug, 2013

When in Boston, Make Way for Ducklings

August 29th, 2013|Tags: , , |

The Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden in Boston, created by Nancy Schön Oh, the power of fiction! Especially children's fiction! It had my kids and me retracing [...]

29 Jul, 2013

How I Found a Most Meaningful Book

July 29th, 2013|Tags: , , , , |

Sometimes it is interesting to retrace where something began, when a meaningful connection was made. My interview with Susannah Conway appeared in the Washington Independent Review of Books last week, and [...]

22 Jul, 2013

Why Writers are Fortunate

July 22nd, 2013|Tags: , , |

For our June class, my Advanced Memoir Workshop at StoryStudio Chicago read Rosanne Cash's memoir Composed. It's not the kind of memoir I would have chosen to read myself, but [...]

14 May, 2013

A Salute to Joyce Brothers

May 14th, 2013|Tags: , , |

When I saw the news on my Chicago Tribune homepage last night that Joyce Brothers had died, my heart sank. I never met her, never had an exchange with her, [...]

24 Apr, 2013

It’s OK to Lie in Memoir

April 24th, 2013|Tags: , |

If memoir is the genre of truth, how could it possibly be acceptable to lie? Wasn’t James Frey fried because he lied? And yet, I venture to say that it [...]

8 Apr, 2013

Reading: Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz

April 8th, 2013|Tags: |

"It was my good fortune to be deported to Auschwitz only in 1944..." Thus begins Primo Levi's preface to his stunning but short memoir of his time as a prisoner [...]

28 Mar, 2013

What is Memoir?

March 28th, 2013|Tags: , , |

The often incorrect use of the term memoir is a pet peeve of mine; after all, it is my genre. It's what I write primarily, and what I teach. So [...]

10 Dec, 2012

My Most Meaningful Read of 2012: Secrets and Spies – The Harbin Files

December 10th, 2012|Tags: , , , |

Of all the books I read this year, the one I have thought most about, talked most about and continue to think about is Mara Moustafine's Secrets and Spies - [...]

19 Oct, 2012

Author Q&A: Wenguang Huang

October 19th, 2012|Tags: , , , |

I wonder what it means if I don't even notice anymore that my writing has gotten published? Have I reached a level of publication success where I can go, "Oh [...]

16 Sep, 2012

My Favorite Book for Rosh Hashana

September 16th, 2012|Tags: , , , |

Eric Kimmel's Gershon's Monster is my favorite book for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which we celebrate tonight. I wish my kids were still small enough to read picture [...]

17 Aug, 2012

A Book Vacation

August 17th, 2012|Tags: , |

We've been dealing with a few health issues lately (everything seems OK now), and so I've slacked off blogging, but yesterday as I retired to my bathtub with the newest [...]

25 Jul, 2012

Sara Mansfield Taber on Airing Secrets

July 25th, 2012|Tags: , , |

The Washington Independent Review of Books just published another author Q&A I did, this time with Sara Mansfield Taber, author of Born Under an Assumed Name. I did not get [...]

21 Jun, 2012

Reading: In Love with an Old Book – E.B. White’s One Man’s Meat

June 21st, 2012|Tags: , |

Once in a while we read a classic in my Advanced Memoir Workshop, and this June the group chose E.B. White's One Man's Meat. The book proved hard to get from the library [...]

6 Jun, 2012

Reading: Tracy Crow’s Eyes Right, Confessions from a Woman Marine

June 6th, 2012|Tags: , |

I am happy to announce that my very first book review beyond the pages of this blog is up at the Washington Independent Review of Books. It's actually not a [...]

24 May, 2012

Reading: The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

May 24th, 2012|Tags: , , , , |

Edmund de Waals' memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes was my favorite memoir of 2011, and yet I am still trying to figure out why because it defies so many of the [...]

10 May, 2012

Reading: At Home in the World by Joyce Maynard

May 10th, 2012|Tags: , |

I found myself developing a love/hate relationship Joyce Maynard’s At Home in the World. My Advanced Memoir Workshop had picked it for our April reading.  First of all, At Home [...]

3 May, 2012

On Having to Read a Book

May 3rd, 2012|Tags: |

My daughter's stack of books she wants to read These days, I feel like my children, a middle schooler and two high schoolers: I have to read certain books by [...]

24 Aug, 2011

Reading: An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorján

August 24th, 2011|Tags: |

Article first published as Book Review: An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorján on Blogcritics. On the surface, Johanna Adorján’s An Exclusive Love is about her grandparents’ suicide. But it is [...]

7 Jul, 2011

Reading: Lingering in Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge

July 7th, 2011|Tags: , |

I love it when a book becomes a place, becomes an alternate reality I can dwell in. That’s what happened as I was reading Terry Tempest Williams’ now classic memoir [...]

3 Jul, 2011

Hemingway on Writing

July 3rd, 2011|Tags: , |

Today is the 50th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s death, and an article by Jeffrey Meyers in the Wall Street Journal on Hemingway’s literary achievement reminded me of that. He died, sadly [...]

28 Jun, 2011

Read to Write

June 28th, 2011|Tags: , , |

About a year ago I was discussing where we write with my memoir class. One student, a flight attendant, said that he often wrote on the plane during his break [...]

13 Jun, 2011

A Memoir-Related Giveaway

June 13th, 2011|Tags: |

Here's a little memoir fun to be had: Think about the following question: What memoir that you have read mattered to you, and why? Then head over to Margarget Roach's blog and [...]

22 May, 2011

Reading: Envying Gerald Durrell

May 22nd, 2011|Tags: , |

If you’d like to take a break from dark and heavy memoirs and read one that is light yet literary; or if you wouldn’t mind spending time on a sun-drenched [...]

15 May, 2011

The Literary Life: Amazon Reviews Make a Difference

May 15th, 2011|Tags: , |

Now that I'm into writing reviews on amazon as part of my quest for a broader literary life, I was happy to read on the Creative Penn that those ratings and [...]

13 May, 2011

Reading: In Love with: 84, Charing Cross Road

May 13th, 2011|Tags: |

“i never can get interested in things that didn’t happen to people who never lived.”Helene Hanff, in her letter of January 9, 1952 in 84, Charing Cross RoadI am tempted [...]

4 May, 2011

My 3 Favorite Books on Writing Memoir

May 4th, 2011|Tags: |

Taking up today's Blogathon 2011 theme "My five favorite books on...," I am listing my favorite books on writing memoir. However, I am only listing three because in all my [...]

1 Apr, 2011

Poem A Day

April 1st, 2011|Tags: , , |

Reading poetry is a wonderful way to infuse your mind with the beauty of words, and for me April as National Poetry Month is a good reason to get back into [...]

29 Mar, 2011

Michael Steinberg on Re-Imagining or: Why I Would Like a Book about Baseball

March 29th, 2011|Tags: , |

My Advanced Memoir Workshop students and I were fortunate enough to host Michael Steinberg, founding editor of the esteemed nonfiction journal Fourth Genre, and author, most recently, of Still Pitching, [...]

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