Monday, January 7, 2013

To write or not to write... that is the question
by Brenda Janowitz

Ah, holiday time.  Even though we're technically on to the new year, I'm still in that holiday mindset.  Hard to sit down and get things done, harder still to write.  Fellow girlfriend Amy Sue Nathan suggested that we read our way through the holidays, so I've done that (and am continuing to do that!), and I've really been lucky to read some amazing books in the past week and a half.

My editor suggested I pick up SEATING ARRANGEMENTS by Maggie Shipstead, which I loved.  The story of a WASPy family getting together on a WASPy island to celebrate a WASPy wedding weekend, it's a smart, funny read.  Every character felt so real to me, the plot felt fresh.  When I finished reading, I just wanted more.

Next, I read UP FROM THE BLUE, by the totally amazing Susan Henderson.  It's a book about mothers and daughters, the way we see the past, and how we come to terms with it.  Heartbreaking, haunting, and beautifully written.  It's a book you won't soon forget.

I then read MAINE by J. Courtney Sullivan, which had been on my bookshelf for a while.  I don't know why it stayed unread for so long-- I loved this book!!  The story of three generations of women and a very special summer house in Maine, it's one of those books that you can't put down.  You'll see so much of yourself and your family in the Kelleher women.  An editor once taught me that the more detail a book has, the more universal it becomes, and that's true here.

After that, I picked up THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker, a book I'd be hearing about for a while.  It's now on all of the top books of 2012 lists, and I can see why.  It's so many different things-- a coming of age story set against the backdrop of a science fiction conceit.  I just couldn't put this book down.  I was obsessed with every part of it-- the implications of the earth's rotation beginning to slow, every detail of this 11 year old girl's life, what would happen to her family, would she get the boy?  Even though I've finished it, I can't stop thinking about it.

Now I'm reading Mindy Kaling's IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? (AND OTHER CONCERNS) and I'm just loving it.  It is, as you might expect, laugh out loud hilarious.  Mindy is charming, adorable, and says everything that I'm thinking.  I'm so glad I picked this one up!

Next up for me are the two books currently in transit from ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE by our very own girlfriend Jess Riley, and GIRLS IN WHITE DRESSES by Jennifer Close.

So, what did you read over the holidays?  And what are you reading next?

I’m the author of SCOT ON THE ROCKS and JACK WITH A TWIST. My third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, will be published by St. Martin's in 2013. My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find me at or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.


  1. I loved Maine and Age of Miracles and Girls in White Dresses is great, very similar to Melissa Bank.

    I just finished the World Without You by Joshua Henkin, which reminded me a lot of Maine. Great read.

    1. Thanks for the rec, Karin! I'm going to check that one out. Have been eyeing it for a while, but now I'll hit the 'buy' button! :)

  2. I am green with envy that you read all these books over the break. (But also so impressed!)

  3. Great books, Brenda. I read and loved Jess Riley's novel and need to go leave an Amazon review!
    Over break, I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I don't read a ton of YA, but I adored the book so much. It's a modern-day Prayer for Owen Meany. Only instead of a little character, we get the gay Tiny, who is huge. Goodness I loved it.
    I'm reading Delia Ephron's The Lion is In right now and a couple of non-fiction books. Happy New Year, Brenda and Girlfriends!

    1. Thanks, Malena! I really can't say enough about these books!

      And now I'm really excited to check out your recommendations! Already put Karin's rec on my Kindle. :)

  4. Brenda,
    Great post and what a lot of fabulous books you had on your reading list!! I read a few really wonderful novels over break including Caroline Leavitt's Pictures of You, B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger and Hank Phillippi Ryan's The Other Woman. Each one different, all three fantastic.

    1. Thanks, Marilyn! Caroline's book is on my TBR pile!! Definitely have to check out the others, ESPECIALLY Hank's book! Great recs!!

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Sheila! What's more fun than discussing books you've just read?!