Now Read This! The Neverending Mother’s Day Story

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about the most powerful gift my mother ever gave me: my love of reading. Not just any reading, mind you. When it became clear that 8-year-old finicky reader Bethanne Kelly was bored to death by age-appropriate bedtime tales, 35-year-old Julia Kelly quickly “thought outside the book”: She dug out her old college literature texts and started reading me the poetry, short stories and essays they contained. That sounds sweet, doesn’t it? Sure – until you hear some …

Building a Story – The Roles of Authors and Illustrators

Every story has a beginning, middle and end.  And in the details of that telling, we can be transported to times and places that fill us with a range of emotions – from wonder, hope and, mirth – to fear, sadness and dread.  And the best stories usually have a blend of both! My Experience Corps kids are currently engaged in “author studies.”  What you and I – if you’re a Gen Xer, boomer or older – used to call storytime!  …

Now Read This!: Carol Burnett & Debbie Reynolds Look Homeward

When I heard that Carol Burnett and Debbie Reynolds have new memoirs out this month, I imagined writing about their mutual love of fashion designer Bob Mackie. Why’s that? Because if every sequin and bugle bead from the Mackie gowns they own were laid end to end, they’d stretch from Burnett’s hometown of San Antonio to Reynold’s of El Paso. Turns out there’s more grit than glitter in Burnett’s Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story. Part of the tale …

Now Read This: Life, Loss, and What We Read

In 1995 Ilene Beckerman wrote and illustrated a charming memoir called Love, Loss, and What I Wore. It captured her life according to outfits worn at key moments, from the Brownie Scout uniform Beckerman was sporting when she went off to camp at age 7 to the dress-up clothes her granddaughter favored decades later. In 2008 Nora and Delia Ephron turned this “time capsule of a woman’s life through clothes” into a successful play of the same name. I thought …

Now Read This: Don Draper’s Very Hot Beach Book

In Season 3 of AMC’s Mad Men, Betty Draper’s father, Gene Hofstadt, moves in with the family. He and his granddaughter – the 9-year-old Sally Draper – soon bond over Edward Gibbons’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. “You just watch,” Gene reassures Sally when the first chapter they read together proves slow at first. “All hell’s gonna break loose.” Foreshadowing, anyone? By Episode 4 of that season, Gene had made a pass at his daughter (!) and …

Now Read This!: March Memoir Madness

Memoirs are tricky. The best of them, like Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle, are brutally honest stories that have you laughing at a feckless father’s shenanigans in one moment and crying over a callous mother’s dismissal of her daughter in the next. The worst are what I call “stunt memoirs” – gimmicky accounts of quixotic adventures the author never would have undertaken without a publisher’s advance in hand. You can tell you’ve come across a stunt memoir by examining its …