Do you like to read the kinds of books you write? Who are your favorite authors? I love books from all genres, except horror—although I sometimes make exceptions for Stephen King. Some of my favorite authors include E.B. White, Ann Patchett, Alice Munro, Wally Lamb, Elinor Lipman, Tom Perrotta, Sue Miller, Kent Haruf, Nick Hornby, Jane Smiley, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Tyler, Jane Hamilton, Elizabeth Strout, Marisa De Los Santos, and Anne Lamott. I’ll read most anything with real, interesting characters.
If readers love your books, who else should they try?
All of these writers can also be fairly put in the answer above…. So here goes… Sarah Dunn, Melissa Bank, Lolly Winston, Kristin Hannah, Deirdre Shaw, Laura Dave, Kristin Harmel, Jennifer Weiner, Curtis Sittenfeld, Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella, Kate Jacobs, Julie Buxbaum, Jancee Dunn, Amy Sohn, Meg Wolitzer, Lucinda Rosenfeld, Katie Crouch, Susan Rebecca White, Allison Winn Scotch, Jill Smolinski, Jess Riley, Marian Keyes, Suzanne Finnamore, Liza Palmer, Caren Lissner, Sarah Strohmeyer, Sarah Mlynowski, Mia King, Ann Packer, Caprice Crane and Katherine Center.
What are your ten favorite books and why do you love them?
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This was my mother’s favorite book growing up, and so she named my sister and me after Princess Sara and her doll, Emily. She read it to us, out of her ancient book, dozens of times before we could read. I’ve read it many times since then. The magical ending never fails to make me cry, and I still feel like my former five-year-old self whenever I enter that world.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This one needs no explanation
- The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. I was in the eighth grade when I read it, and Frankie made me feel as if I weren’t the only one who felt alone and wanting to be a part of something larger.
- The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. A punchy little gem of a romantic comedy of manners that I read while finding the courage to leave the law. Lipman is brilliant with dialogue and characters, and has been an inspiration to me from the beginning.
- Plainsong by Kent Haruf This story is one of grief and anger—yet it is devoid of any melodrama. How can an author describe an autopsy on a horse with such effortless grace and lyricism?
- Runaway by Alice Munro As far as I’m concerned, Alice Munro is the best writer alive today (and better than most of the famous dead ones too!) and this is her most superb collection of stories. I marvel at her ability to create the deepest empathy for her characters and depict betrayal, love and friendship.
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Impetuous female heroine. Passionate, young romance. Betrayal. Violent love triangle. Vengeful rage that spans two generations. Heartbreak and then, finally, true love. What’s not to love?
- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. I love how honestly he writes about his flawed narrators, Maurice and Sarah—their affair, their love and hate for each other, their love and hate for God…and how it all comes together in a way that is so believable and human and real. May be one of the reasons I try to write about characters who are similarly flawed—it seems like the only way to truly write honestly about what’s in a person’s mind and heart.
- That Night by Alice McDermott. An intense modern day Romeo and Juliet with the most perfectly constructed, compelling narrative.
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Only VW could pen a timeless work out of a story that essentially chronicles one day in the life of a London housewife. Plus, this book may just have the best closing line in the history of English literature.