When Dennis is not at work, he spends his time cooking classic recipes, making classic cocktails, listening to classical music, and studying classical languages—and reading classics, of course. (Yes, he’s involved in an array of non-classical activities as well, but we’re not interested in those right now.) He likes to read novels in which you learn things.

 

the-saga-of-gosta-berling-by-selma-lagerlofThe Saga of Gösta Berling by Selma Lagerlöf

Right away, let me also recommend that you see the silent film of this novel, starring Greta Garbo—if you have any interest at all in the silent screen, this is a must-see. This early twentieth-century novel, for which the author won a Nobel Prize in Literature, is told in episodes yet has an overarching sweep to it as well. Set in 1820s Sweden, it follows a handsome defrocked minister of singular character as he teams up with a bunch of veterans, cavaliers, eccentrics, and raffish fellows. I can’t quite put my hand on what exactly it was that made this novel so endearing. It’s melodramatic in the best sense of the word and does a good job of capturing the human heart—both in the ways it can stay true despite everything as well as the ways it can constantly shift and change.

• You will learn about rural Sweden, the price of vengeance, what it means to follow your own path.

 

moby-dick-by-herman-melvilleMoby-Dick by Herman Melville

Yes, we know, you read it in high school. But let’s be honest: You didn’t understand anything about anything back then, and if I were a betting man I’d wager that you didn’t really take this book in properly. Moby-Dick has everything: philosophy, adventure, existential dread, beautiful writing, sailors, the age-old thrill of the hunt, humor, cetacean taxonomy, obsession, the mystic bonds of friendship, peg-legs, and so much more. Just do yourself a favor and read it—and when you do, be sure to savor every line.

• You will learn about whales, human nature, existence itself.

 

 

the-red-and-the-black-by-stendhalThe Red and the Black by Stendhal

Ah, Julien Sorel—he’s one of those characters that you can’t decide if you love or hate. Despite his scheming and self-interest, there’s something about Julien that somehow pulls you in as he works his way up the rungs of post-Napoleonic Parisian society. To my eye, he is such a strange mixture of earnestness, even naïveté, and power-playing hypocrisy, someone who (thinks he) knows his own mind and stands apart from the crowd yet who is all too aware of the importance of what others think of him. Most charmingly he has the honesty to be shocked at the changes that happen within himself even as he boldly moves ahead on a new path. And one last thing: Stendhal is a master of tempo and pacing, so give yourself the pleasure of reading The Red and the Black.

• You will learn about France after Napoleon, French society in general, the mysteries of character and the human heart.

 

strange-tales-from-a-chinese-studio-by-pu-songlingStrange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling

This collection of Chinese short tales is one of the great collections of fantastic literature in the world, bar none. Written in the late 1600s and early 1700s, and filled with fox-spirits, ghosts, otherworldly bureaucratic offices, metamorphosing family members, magical animals, erotic peccadilloes, haunted temples, enchanted musical instruments, and more, the stories ranges from the supernatural through various gradations of “the extraordinary.” Witty, funny, chilling, enlightening, bawdy, moralizing—this collection covers a lot of ground, but the effect is absolutely one of being charmed and entertained.

• You will learn about China in the early Qing dynasty, the effects of karma, and the many nuances of the human psyche.

 

 

Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


Tim Dowling, author of How-to-be-a-Husband-Tim-DowlingHow to be a Husband shares his suggestions on what Husbands should be reading this Valentine’s Day!

For the most part my experience of being a husband cycles around repeated failures to measure up, followed by sincere attempts to address these failings and to fail better next time, starting with my whole approach to recently used towels. The secret of being a good husband, I find, is taking the time to point out to one’s wife that she could, in fact, do a whole lot worse. That, in part,  is what the following books can do for you. Read them first to make sure you are actually a better husband than the ones featured, and discard from the pile as necessary.

 

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Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

I was first made to read this in high school, at a time when this savage portrait of the morally bankrupt of George F. Babbit, family man and establishment stooge, didn’t mean much to me. Obviously I get it now. And how.

 

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Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

As bleak a portrayal of married existence as you’re likely to encounter, although when I saw the movie I came over all nostalgic because they’d so faithfully recreated the suburban Connecticut of my childhood. I kept wanting to shout, “It doesn’t have to be this way! Get some ice cream! Play some tennis!” I had a similar problem with The Ice Storm.

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Abbott Awaits by Chris Bachelder

An extraordinary book: funny, dark, often transcendent. It charts tiny, in-between moments – through a series of very short chapters  – in the life of Abbott, a college teacher with a small child, a pregnant wife and a tenuous grip on the point of it all. If you’re married with kids he will remind you, often painfully, of you. Fortunately this sort of book isn’t my wife’s cup of tea at all.

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The Wife by Meg Wollitzer

A look at marriage from the other perspective, that of the long-suffering wife of a celebrated author. It’s not a happy prospect – she’s planning to leave him on page 1 – but how it makes you feel about your own record as a husband will probably depend on your personality. I was heartened and chilled by turns.

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The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

Charles Pooter, the suburban householder diarist of the title, is such a byword for a certain kind of unknowing self-importance that in Britain he’s an adjective: pooterish. Although it was written in the late 19th century, this comic masterpiece remains a great key to understanding the English, their humour and their preoccupations. I re-read it often, and each time it makes a little more sense.

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Mr Bridge, by Evan S. Connell.

This chronicle of a distant, repressed husband living between the wars in Kansas City came out a full 10 years after Connell’s debut novel, Mrs Bridge, which covers the same ground but with the wife as the protagonist. The two books were later amalgamated and adapted for the screen as Mr and Mrs Bridge. They’re both great, but if you’re a husband this is the one that will keep you up nights.


Andrew Yackira Headshot

Andrew Yackira is an Editor with Tarcher/Penguin, acquiring books on health, wellness, self-help, philosophy, and works containing loads of other fun and potentially world-changing ideas. When he isn’t reading for work, he still manages to read for pleasure, is an avid commuter cyclist, a gamer, an eater-of-foods-he-didn’t-prepare—as well as some that he did—and (presumably to his neighbor’s chagrin) has recently taken up playing the mandolin.

 

 

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Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body, by Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson, the author of this fitness guide, spent ten years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. The titular line comes from something his father told him—after first realizing that the nightmare of his imprisonment might be his new normal:  “Son, do whatever you can to get stronger, faster, and smarter.  This is now your number one priority.” Aside from the inspirational story behind the Ferguson’s physical transformation while behind bars—and, ultimately, his acquittal—this book contains a fitness program emphasizing a need of resolve and inner strength over the need of fancy exercise equipment. Most of the exercises highlighted in this book are simple and can be done in a 6’ x 8’ cage if need be (and we hope our readers never find themselves in a situation where that need arises).

 

getting things done

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen

This perennial bestseller in the “productivity” category is a favorite among many of the staffers here at Tarcher. David Allen is a mastermind of organization and anti-procrastination tips, and his no-nonsense approach is brilliant for simplifying the daunting pile of tasks many of us face during our workdays. Also, there will be a revised 2015 edition of this classic coming out in March! Tarcher is proud to have partnered with the Penguin imprint on theGetting Things Done Productivity Cards in 2013, which distilled the wisdom in this book down to bite-sized portions in a colorful and beautifully-designed deck of cards.

 

 

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Reiki for Life: The Complete Guide to Reiki Practice for Levels 1, 2, & 3, by Penelope Quest

Chances are you’ve heard about Reiki in the last few years, as centers are beginning to pop up all around the country and compliment other ancient techniques such as T’ai Chi and acupuncture. This handbook is all anyone interested in Reiki needs to begin practicing this potent and increasingly popular healing technique. Readers will learn how Reiki works, how to perform Reiki on themselves and others, instructions on how to become a Reiki Master, and much more.

 

 

 

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What the Fork Are You Eating? An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate, by Stefanie Sacks MS, CNS, CDN

American culture seems increasingly obsessed with labels like “natural,” “grass-fed,” “free-roaming,” and “organic”—but author, certified chef, and nutritionist Stefanie Sacks argues that these labels may be misleading and arms consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, so this book would be incomplete without the included fifty original recipes that readers can try at home (although I don’t think there are any pudding recipes—sorry for any confusion).

 

 

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Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel

In this handy and compact tome, TEDx speaker, triathlete, and productivity consultant Ari Meisel transforms his “Less Doing” lifestyle into actionable steps that readers can easily apply to their lives. Ari’s 21st century philosophy puts the internet and technology to work on behalf of the reader—using apps and tools to automate and outsource daily activities like e-mail, keeping track of new ideas, and remembering meetings—creating an “external brain” and freeing up the reader’s time and mind to focus only on important tasks. But this philosophy isn’t just about business and work life. Meisel tackles the trifecta of wellness—fitness, sleep, and nutrition— and instructs the reader on how to get more out of life, all while doing less. This book is a true gem in productivity improvement, and I personally use strategies I learned from working on this book in my daily life.

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Last week, in celebration of Halloween, Penguin Teen asked the people of twitter to share their own spooky Halloween stories in 140 characters or less, using the hashtag #TwitterGhostStory. The results were spook-tacular and a lot of fun! Check out some of our favorite Twitter Ghost Stories!

Some made us scared to look in the mirror…

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Others made us scared to sleep alone…

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And a few made us not want to go home…

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Some rhymed…

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….and some were just too real.

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Our authors even got into the spirit with a few spooky tales of their own. 

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Some left us wanting more…

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… but then came the scariest of all!

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Happy Halloween!

Share your own Ghost Story below…if you dare.


sdn1As soon as I finished reading the manuscript of Cristina Moracho’s Althea and Oliver, I knew I had to buy it for Viking. Even in its raw form, it was stunning—a coming-of-age story that combined lyricism and grit, humor and hard truths, and absolutely nailed life at the end of high school, when your tether to family and friends is beginning to fray. I couldn’t believe it was her first novel.

Neither could my colleagues. The word spread from Editorial to Design to Sub Rights to Marketing to Sales, and to my delight I watched every reader become an evangelist. Althea and Oliver is that rare book whose appeal crosses generational lines, and here’s why: It’s not a YA novel so much as a work of literature with teenagers in it.

It’s set in North Carolina, in the mid-1990s. Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since age six. Now, as they come up on their senior year of high school, Althea realizes that she wants more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, wants things to go back to normal—because his body has begun to betray him. When he falls asleep in class and wakes up at home three weeks later with no memory of what has happened, he is finally forced to admit that something is seriously wrong.

And then Althea, who even at her best is an instigator, makes a very bad decision, and their relationship is shattered. Before they can talk it through, Oliver leaves town for a clinical sleep study in Manhattan, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain; Althea gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

A plot summary can tell you just so much. Molly Templeton, from WORD Bookstores, can tell you more: “I loved it, to the point where I’m a little bit speechless.  I love that it’s a love story that isn’t a romance, and a coming-of-age tale that doesn’t have any too-tidy epiphanies; it felt intimate, accurate, and vivid, like I was living the book along with the characters. I can’t wait to tell people about this one. It’s mind-blowingly good.”Althea&Oliver

And others agree. Althea and Oliver has already gotten three starred reviews, been selected by the Junior Library Guild, has publication deals in six countries—and counting!—and I’ve just received the finished audiobook.

But, of course, the proof is in the prose. If you want to start reading Althea and Oliver right now, EW.com has made it very easy for you. Just click here!


TheLostWifeWhen writing novels, one never knows where inspiration will strike.   A few years ago, I was well into my research for a book on the ways that Jewish artists managed to create art during the Holocaust, when I overheard a story at the local hair salon about a couple who were separated at the beginning of the war with each of them being told that the other had perished. Sixty years later, they miraculously were reunited at the wedding of their respective grandchildren.  When I overheard that story, I felt like I had been struck by lightning.  My mind was filled with so many questions: why had this couple each believed the other had died? What was their initial love story? What were their second love stories that produced the children who were now the parents of the grandchildren getting married?  And most importantly, how did they each survive World War II?

This story would end up being the bookends for my novel The Lost Wife, into which I invented the lovers’ histories both before and after their separation.

I wanted to draw in my readers by evoking the same questions that I had after initially hearing that story.  I wanted those questions to propel them into the same journey I too would undertake while crafting the body of the novel.

TheGardenofLettersThe inspiration for my new novel The Garden of Letters, also began after hearing a story that ignited my curiosity.  While at a dinner party, a friend shared with me the details about how her father had escaped from Hungry through Italy during WWII with forged papers that their family had spent their entire life savings on.  When my friend’s father arrived in Portofino, German guards were scrutinizing everyone’s papers so carefully that he was sure he was going to be arrested.

Suddenly, out from the crowd, a big barrel-chested Italian man cried: “Cousin, cousin, I’ve been waiting for you all week.  Thank heaven’s you’ve come!”

He was able to whisk my friend’s father away and take him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

When my friend’s father asked this man why he had saved him, for clearly he wasn’t his cousin, the man replied:  “I try to come to the port every month.  I try to save the person who looks the most afraid.”

When I heard that story I immediately thought it would make an amazing beginning to a novel.  I imagined the two people whose lives intersect at this occupied Italian port.    One fleeing and in need of shelter.  The other a person who sees that fear and sets upon helping him.   “The Garden of Letters” opens with my young heroine being saved from the Germans at the Portofino port by a doctor.

As in all my novels, I wanted my main character to possess a creative gift.  With The Lost Wife, I explored how art could be used as a form of Resistance against the Nazis.  In The Garden of Letters, I explore how music could be used.

My main character Elodie, is a young cellist who sends coded messages for the Italian Resistance through her performances And the book explores the many creative ways essential information was transmitted during the war.

When I traveled to Italy to meet with partisans and female messengers who were involved in the Resistance, I was introduced to a person who shared with me another unusual way information was sent during the war.  Giovanni Pellizzato, whose grandfather was both a bookseller and an active member of the Italian Resistance, described how codes were cleverly hidden throughout the pages of a book, and how within the back shelves of his father’s bookstore many of the books had their paper carved out to create a space where pistols were stored inside.  This information was so intriguing to me, it inspired the character of the bookseller, Luca, in The Garden of Letters.

As storytellers, we’re responsible for crafting narratives that bring our readers into a world that transport and hopefully inform.  As writers, however, we must also be open to all the stories that surround us, for everyone has a unique history to share.


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This week has been a little quiet – lots of people are out on vacation, reading their books on the beach or another idyllic location. Well, I may be in the office, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make it a beachy environment – with a little help from our stuffed penguin.

As you can see, work is very serious and buttoned-up and no fun at all.

 

 

 

 

Speaking of vacation, I got to interview the wonderful and hilarious Emma Straub for the Beaks and Geeks Podcast. We talked about road-trips, cold beaches, weird Americana … and even her novel.

I loved hearing about the different types of vacations families take – are you a road-trip, national-park-visiting, camping-and-hiking vacationer or a stay-in-a-hotel, relax-poolside, easy-breezy vacationer?

In other news, First to Read, which lets one read new Penguin books before they are released, just hit 20,000 members last week! It’s such a wonderful program, headed up by our very own John Mercun – who you may remember from his Staff Picks. If you’re not already signed up, hop to it! There are some exciting titles coming up.

Hope you have great weekends, readers!

-Amy


JillSantopoloThe concept of love is universal. And the idea of being free to love whomever you choose has been battled for centuries in many different countries on many different platforms. At its heart, that’s what Atia Abawi’s The Secret Sky is about—the freedom to love.

This book was inspired by many real events, but the reason it exists is because of a New York Times article published in July of 2011 called “In Afghanistan, Rage at Young Lovers.”  The article is about two teenagers from different ethnic groups who met in an ice cream factory and whose romance incited a riot of three hundred people that called for the teens’ death by stoning. Michael Green, Philomel’s publisher, came into my office with that article and said, “Have you read this?” (I had.) Then he said, “I think there’s a novel here. Do you know anyone who could write us a forbidden teen romance set in Afghanistan?” I figured the ideal person to write this kind of story was someone who was Afghan and who had spent a considerable amount of time in Afghanistan, but also grew up speaking English. And, of course, was a professional writer. Not necessarily the easiest person to find. I went through my mental rolodex and landed on Nick, a college friend who was then living in Islamabad and Kabul, reporting for ABC News. I thought perhaps he might know someone, so I sent him an email. He, in turn, sent an email to Atia Abawi. She was an Afghan-American journalist living in Kabul, reporting for NBC, and had been wanting to write a novel based on her experiences. Nick had found my ideal author for this project.

He connected me with Atia, and the result was The Secret Sky, inspired, in part, by the Times piece, but mostly inspired by the people and the villages that Atia visited during her five years reporting from Afghanistan. The story, which follows Fatima, a Hazara girl, and Samiullah, a Pashtun boy, as they fight their families, their village’s traditions, and the local Taliban to stay together, is not real, but it could have been. In fact, this past year, in March, The New York Times ran another article about forbidden love in Afghanistan, this one called “2 Star-Crossed Afghans Cling to Love, Even at Risk of Death,” which details a very similar story: two young people from a rural village whose declaration of love put them—and their families—in grave danger. 

What is most powerful about The Secret Sky is that it is so real. It captures, in beautiful, raw prose, what’s happening today, a fourteen-hour plane ride from New York City.  I’ve been editing books for the past decade, and I think Atia Abawi’s The Secret Sky is the one that has most changed me. It made me think—really think—about the privileges I take for granted every day and about how different my life would be if I had been born in a rural Afghan village.

I know this is a book about teenagers, written with a teenage audience in mind, but I think it will appeal to readers of all ages. As of the writing of this piece, The Secret Sky has already received a starred review pre-publication from Publishers Weekly and advanced praise from journalists and AtiaAbawi_TheSecretSkynovelists alike.  The power in Atia’s words has touched so many readers already. I’ll leave you with one of those reactions, from Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent and anchor of Andrea Mitchell Reports. She said:

The Secret Sky brilliantly captures the magic and the heartbreak of Afghanistan as only someone rooted in its mystery can….This first novel by a top foreign correspondent has the authenticity of raw journalism and the poetry of a gifted writer.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Start Reading The Secret Sky here!


matt

Matt is the Marketing Director at Penguin Press. He has never won the Penguin Cup fantasy football league.

 

 

 

 

 

Book publishers aren’t necessarily known for their athletic prowess, but believe it or not, we’ve got a lot of athletes here at Penguin. You’ll find us on Central Park’s Great Lawn on summer evenings, playing softball against Oxford University Press. You’ll find us on the Chelsea Piers basketball courts running up the score on Simon and Schuster. And because fake sports are just as intense as real ones, you’ll find us every August in a booth at the back of Mr. Dennehy’s Irish Pub drafting our fantasy football teams The Penguin Cup league. (My team name: The Secret Life of Brees.)

We’re just as competitive about publishing sports books. And now, in the sports doldrums of August, there’s plenty of time to catch up on your reading.

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Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, by Phil Jackson

How many NBA legends can quote from both ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu and contemporary urban fantasy author Jim Butcher? Jackson is one of the most successful, innovative, and unique sports figures.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight, by Matt Higgins

I don’t like flying. On planes. So I can’t imagine jumping off a mountain with a wingsuit. But I loved reading about the people who do – from the safety of my couch, on solid ground.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown

A book about rowing? A book about rowing. Trust me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LeBron’s Dream Team: How Five Friends Made History, by Lebron James

It’s got to be a fun time to be a Cleveland sports fan right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rules for Becoming a Legend, by Timothy S. Lane

A novel for fans of The Art of Fielding and Hoosiers about a rising high school basketball player. Lane is 6’8” if he’s an inch, so when he talks about basketball, you listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It… by Matthew Berry

If you’re wondering why your friends, co-workers, spouses are distracted every fall, read this book. You won’t believe how far people take their fantasy sports obsessions.

 

 

 

 

 
Find more books on the Current Events & History page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


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At BEA I sat down with Liane Moriarty, author of the newly released Big Little Lies. Liane is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers, The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and two small, noisy children.

 

 

How did you get started as an author?
About ten years ago, I got a phone call that would change my life. It was my sister calling to tell me that her YA novel, Feeling Sorry For Celia, had been accepted for publication. My sister and I had always wanted to be authors. When we were children, our Dad would commission us to write novels for him. At the time of my sister’s phone call, I was working as a freelance advertising copywriter, writing everything from websites to TV commercials. Although I occasionally wrote short stories and first chapters of novels that didn’t go any further, I’d let my childhood dream slide. My sister’s news was the inspiration I needed to get me back to the keyboard.  In a fever of sibling rivalry I wrote a children’s book which was enthusiastically rejected by every publisher in Australia. I calmed down, and two years later, my first novel, Three Wishes was published around the world.

Do you have a sibling rivalry continuing on, now that you’re successful as well?
No, now we’re both published writers (as is my younger sister) we’re all just happy for each other. Although we do become quite competitive about material. For example, when one sister uses an old family story.

All writing materials aside, what material items in life could you not live without?
Well I couldn’t live without one cup of coffee a day, and without books – does that go without saying (laughs). And chocolate and champagne. Is that enough? And if I had all those things together then I wouldn’t need anything else.

How do you get into the writing mood? Do you have a particular place you like to write, do you listen to special music?
I have two small children so I only have a very limited time to write, so I don’t really have the luxury anymore of ‘getting into the writing mood.’ I just have to sit down and write.

Would you say that would be your top writing advice for aspiring writers, just sit down and write?
Yes, you can spend too much time asking questions about writing and wondering about writing and thinking about writing. In the end you just have to write.

If you were going to pick any country in the world or any city to live in which one would it be? (If you couldn’t live in Sydney.)
I’d live in a mountaintop castle near my family and the beach, where I could ski from my castle door and have a swim before breakfast at the beach. It’s a fantasy question so I’m allowed a fantasy answer!

What skills or talents do you admire most in other people?
I admire all those skills and talents I lack – the  ability to sing, to act, to sew, to speak other languages fluently, to cook gourmet meal without making a mess etcetera, etcetera!

Your books focus a lot around personal relationships and family dynamics. Do you find a lot of your personal life transitioning and spilling over into your writing, or do you like to keep the two separate?
Little bits and pieces of my personal life certainly seep into my writing. And that’s why I find that my characters are getting older as I get older, they’re aging along with me. So I’m sure one day I’ll be writing a book set in a retirement village.

If you were to describe why you think reading is important in one sentence, what would you say?
Reading is important because its one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, I also think that if its not a pleasure for you, that’s OK. For some people life’s greatest pleasure is music or art or scuba diving. I just think its important to find time for what makes you happy.

What are your other hobbies or pleasures?
I love snow skiing and bushwalking, and spending time with my children.

What is your favorite place in the U.S. that you’ve visited? Have you done much travel in the US?
I had a skiing holiday in Aspen once, many years ago, and loved it.

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Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal.

A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads. This is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.