Anna Quindlen is the author of five previous bestselling novels (Rise and Shine, Blessings, Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue), and seven nonfiction books (A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Good Dog. Stay., Being Perfect, Loud & Clear, Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud, and How Reading Changed My Life). Her New York Times column “Public and Private” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. From 2000-2009, She wrote the “Last Word” column for Newsweek.
In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead—and celebrating it all—as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.
As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. Using her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages, Quindlen talks about
Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”
Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. Sometimes I will see a photo of an actress in an unflattering dress or a blouse too young for her or with a heavy-handed makeup job, and I mutter, ‘She must not have any girlfriends.’ ”
Stuff: “Here’s what it comes down to, really: there is now so much stuff in my head, so many years, so many memories, that it’s taken the place of primacy away from the things in the bedrooms, on the porch. My doctor says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, she doesn’t believe our memories flag because of a drop in estrogen but because of how crowded it is in the drawers of our minds. Between the stuff at work and the stuff at home, the appointments and the news and the gossip and the rest, the past and the present and the plans for the future, the filing cabinets in our heads are not only full, they’re overflowing.”
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.”
Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”
From childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, Quindlen uses the events of her own life to illuminate our own. Along with the downsides of age, she says, can come wisdom, a perspective on life that makes it satisfying and even joyful. Candid, funny, moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.
THE LIBRARY OF CONTEMPORARY THOUGHT is a groundbreaking series where America's finest writers and most brilliant minds tackle today's most provocative, fascinating, and relevant issues. Striking and daring, creative and important, these original voices on matters political, social, economic, and cultural, will enlighten, comfort, entertain, enrage, and ignite healthy debate across the country.
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
It is the 1960s, in suburban New York City. Maggie and her family, are in the thrall of her powerful grandfather Jack Scanlan. In the summer of her twelfth year, Maggie is despertately trying to master the object lessons her grandfather fills her head with. But there is too much going on to concentrate. Everything at home is in upheaval, her grandfather is changing, and Maggie is unsure if what she wants is worth having....
The voice is Anna Quindlen's. But we know the hopes, dreams, fears, and wonder expressed in all her columns, for most of us share them. With her NEW YORK TIMES-based column, "LIFE IN THE 30s," Anna Quindlen valued to national attention, and this wonderful collection shows why.
As she proved in OBJECT LESSONS and THINKIN OUT LOUD, Anna Quindlen's views always fascinate.
For eighteen years Fran Benedetto kept her secret, hid her bruises. She stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father, and because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son’s face, Fran finally made a choice—and ran for both their lives.
Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. In this place she uses a name that isn’t hers, watches over her son, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Bobby always said he would never let her go, and despite the ingenuity of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time.
Mary Beth Latham has built her life around her family, around caring for her three teenage children and preserving the rituals of their daily life. When one of her sons becomes depressed, Mary Beth focuses on him, only to be blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterward is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible lines of hope and healing that connect one human being to another. Ultimately, as rendered in Anna Quindlen’s mesmerizing prose, Every Last One is a novel about facing every last one of the things we fear the most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel.
A few times in your life, someone will tell you something so right, so deeply true that it changes you forever. That is what Anna Quindlen, author of the timeless bestseller A Short Guide to a Happy Life, does here.
In Being Perfect, she shares wisdom that, perhaps without knowing it, you have longed to hear: about “the perfection trap,” the price you pay when you become ensnared in it, and the key to setting yourself free. Quindlen believes that when your success looks good to the world but doesn’t feel good in your heart, it isn’t success at all.
She asks you to set aside your friends’ advice, what your family and co-workers demand, and what society expects, and look at the choices you make every day. When you ask yourself why you are making them, Quindlen encourages you to give this answer: For me. “Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am. . . . That way lies dancing to the melodies spun out by your own heart.”
At the core of this beautiful book lies the secret of authentic success, the inspiration to embrace your own uniqueness and live the life that is undeniably your own, rich in fulfillment and meaning.
“The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen about her beloved black Labrador retriever, Beau. With her trademark wisdom and humor, Quindlen reflects on how her life has unfolded in tandem with Beau’s, and on the lessons she’s learned by watching him: to roll with the punches, to take things as they come, to measure herself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present, to raise her nose in the air from time to time and, at least metaphorically, holler, “I smell bacon!”
Of the dog that once possessed a catcher’s mitt of a mouth, Quindlen reminisces, “there came a time when a scrap thrown in his direction usually bounced unseen off his head. Yet put a pork roast in the oven, and the guy still breathed as audibly as an obscene caller. The eyes and ears may have gone, but the nose was eternal. And the tail. The tail still wagged, albeit at half-staff. When it stops, I thought more than once, then we’ll know.”
Heartening and bittersweet, Good Dog. Stay. honors the life of a cherished and loyal friend and offers us a valuable lesson on our four-legged family members: Sometimes an old dog can teach us new tricks.
From Anna Quindlen, acclaimed author of Blessings, Black and Blue, and One True Thing, a superb novel about two sisters, the true meaning of success, and the qualities in life that matter most.
It’s an otherwise ordinary Monday when Meghan Fitzmaurice’s perfect life hits a wall. A household name as the host of Rise and Shine, the country’s highest-rated morning talk show, Meghan cuts to a commercial break–but not before she mutters two forbidden words into her open mike.
In an instant, it’s the end of an era, not only for Meghan, who is unaccustomed to dealing with adversity, but also for her younger sister, Bridget, a social worker in the Bronx who has always lived in Meghan’s long shadow. The effect of Meghan’s on-air truth telling reverberates through both their lives, affecting Meghan’s son, husband, friends, and fans, as well as Bridget’s perception of her sister, their complex childhood, and herself. What follows is a story about how, in very different ways, the Fitzmaurice women adapt, survive, and manage to bring the whole teeming world of New York to heel by dint of their smart mouths, quick wits, and the powerful connection between them that even the worst tragedy cannot shatter.
In this remarkable book, Anna Quindlen, one of America’s favorite novelists and a Pulitzer Prize– winning columnist, once again gives us wisdom, opinions, insights, and reflections about current events and modern life. “Always insightful, rooted in everyday experience and common sense...Quindlen is so good that even when you disagree with what she says, you still love the way she says it,” said People magazine about her number one New York Times bestseller Thinking Out Loud, and the same can be said about Loud and Clear.
With her trademark insight and her special ability to convey the impact public events have on ordinary lives, Quindlen here combines commentary on American society and the world at large with reflections on being a woman, a writer, and a mother. In these pieces, first written for Newsweek and The New York Times, Loud and Clear takes on topics ranging from social change to raising children, from the political and emotional aftermath of September 11 to personal values, from the impact on individuals of global events to the growth that can be gained by spending summer days staring into the middle distance. Grounding the public in the private, connecting people to each other and to the greater world, Quindlen encourages us to develop authentic lives, even as she serves as a catalyst for political and social change.
“Anna Quindlen’s beat is life, and she’s one hell of a terrific reporter,” said Susan Isaacs, and Quindlen’s unique qualities of understanding and discernment, everywhere evident in her previous bestsellers, including A Short Guide to a Happy Life and Living Out Loud, can be found on every page of this provocative and inspiring book.
From the Hardcover edition.
This powerful new novel by the bestselling author of Black and Blue, One True Thing, Object Lessons, and A Short Guide to a Happy Life begins when a teenage couple drives up, late at night, headlights out, to Blessings, the estate owned by Lydia Blessing. They leave a box and drive away, and in this instant, the world of Blessings is changed forever. Richly written, deeply moving, beautifully crafted, Blessings tells the story of Skip Cuddy, caretaker of the estate, who finds a baby asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep her, and of matriarch Lydia Blessing, who, for her own reasons, decides to help him. The secrets of the past, how they affect the decisions and lives of people in the present; what makes a person, a life, legitimate or illegitimate, and who decides; the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community—these are at the center of this wonderful novel of love, redemption, and personal change by the writer about whom The Washington Post Book World said, “Quindlen knows that all the things we ever will be can be found in some forgotten fragment of family.”
"Life is made of moments, small pieces of silver amidst long stretches of tedium. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won't happen. We have to teach ourselves now to live, really live...to love the journey, not the destination."
In this treasure of a book, Anna Quindlen, the bestselling novelist and columnist, reflects on what it takes to "get a life"—to live deeply every day and from your own unique self, rather than merely to exist through your days. "Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God ever gives us," Quindlen writes, "because unless you know the clock is ticking, it is so easy to waste our days, our lives." Her mother died when Quindlen was nineteen: "It was the dividing line between seeing the world in black and white, and in Technicolor. The lights came on for the darkest possible reason....I learned something enduring, in a very short period of time, about life. And that was that it was glorious, and that you had no business taking it for granted." But how to live from that perspective, to fully engage in our days? In A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen guides us with an understanding that comes from knowing how to see the view, the richness in living.
One day, while holding her treasured baseball mitt, Kate makes a wish. And poof!— she turns into a princess in a fairy tale. But being a princess isn't at all what Kate imagined. Before long, she's fighting off dragons, entertaining witches, and teaching the ladies-in-waiting how to play baseball. With Kate around, fairy tale land will never be the same again!