The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.
With a fresh concept and gorgeous prose, this novel is an intensely atmospheric read for young adults and adults alike.
Levi just wants to be treated like a typical kid. As a baby, he had a serious disease that caused him respiratory issues. He’s fine now, but his mum and overprotective brother still think of him as damaged, and his schoolmates see him as the same class clown he’s always been. He feels stuck. So when his dad—divorced from his mum—suggests he take up boxing, he falls in love with the sport. And when he finds out about a school with a killer boxing team and a free–study curriculum, it feels like he’s found a ticket to a new Levi. But how can he tell his mum about boxing? And how can he convince his family to set him free?
Told in dynamic shaped verse, this gripping, funny, poignant novel works as a companion to House Arrest as well as a standalone tale of a boy feeling constrained by his family’s love. Perfect for middle-grade, YA and reluctant readers.
Caravansérail is a gorgeous bilingual bookshop, gallery and cultural space nestled in London’s Brick Lane, which offers a wonderful aray of adult and children’s titles in both French and English. Head there to find your newest read and grab a coffee surrounded by beautiful books, shelving and art. The shop front is spectacular (the blue is so striking and inviting) and their signage and branding is stunning.
Since opening in September 2017, co-owners Laura and Anne have hosted various events featuring authors, artists and musicians, cementing themselves as a hub within the community.
There’s something for everyone in the shop, from a carefully curated selection of cookery titles chosen by a local chef, or the wide range of translated fiction – a focus for Laura.
We caught up with Laura and Anne and asked them a few questions:
1. Congratulations on being chosen as our February Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe Caravansérail in five words?
A home for hybrid cultures.
2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
The children’s nook! A place to shelter and escape from the buzz of the city. A perfect spot to read, whether you’re with kids or not.
3. Where do you like to read? Anne: in the wilderness! I used to live on the West coast of Canada and my favourite spot to read so far has been in Dorreen – an abandoned mining town in British Columbia that you can only access by train. A heaven lost between mountains, forest and river. Comfortably seated on the porch of a cabin, a steaming mug of coffee in one hand, a book in the other… and not too far away, a bowl of freshly picked blueberries. Sublime! Laura: nothing beats the combination of reading and fireplace for me, wherever it may be.
4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be? Anne: aside from Caravansérail, I am running an artist residency and an artists agency. Supporting and promoting the work of emerging artists is the cement of these three activities. Laura: I’d probably be doing something in publishing.
5. Excluding Caravansérail – what is your favourite bookshop? Anne: I love browsing the beautiful bookshops in the Quartier latin in Paris – a day well spent! Laura: without hesitation Daunt Books, Marylebone.
The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too. Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.
Rachael Allen is the author of 17 First Kisses and The Revenge Playbook. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two children and two sled dogs. Visit her website here.
We fell in love with Spencer’s taxonomy charts in the book so we couldn’t resist asking Rachael to make a taxonomy about… Taxonomy! See her beautiful hand-written creation below:
From sibling relationships to neurodiverse characters to peach ice cream (x3), not only does A Taxonomy of Love span 6 years of the characters’ lives, it also incorporates some of the most important aspects of family, friendship, love and loss while subverting stereotypes in the process.
If you’re still not sure, you can dive into an extract here!
Let us know your thoughts at @ACBYA using #TaxonomyOfLove
Kicking off 2018, our January Bookshop of the Month is Button and Bear, a children’s bookshop in Shrewsbury owned and run by Louise Chadwick, former director of programmes at BookTrust.
Button and Bear has been designed with children and parents in mind with the goal of getting children interested in books as early as possible. Opening in September 2016 the bookshop also has a café, a gift shop, a breastfeeding area and what can only be described as a magical woodland events space. They run a multitude of regular events including their highly praised Stories & Rhymes in the Woodland (check out their Facebook reviews) and they’ve cemented themselves as a community hub for customers.
We caught up with Louise to ask her a few questions:
1. Congratulations on being chosen as our January Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe Button and Bear in three words?
Friendly, knowledgeable & unique
2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
Our hidden woodland room downstairs where we hold storytimes, events & birthday parties. There are no windows & it feels cosy & magical.
3. Where do you like to read?
Everywhere! But mostly when I can lose myself in the book and become part of the story.
4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be?
I previously worked for a book charity inspiring people to read focusing on children & parents, which is what I do now through Button & Bear. If I wasn’t a bookseller I would still be out there championing the importance of reading for pleasure & making sure as many children & parents had access to books.
5. Excluding Button and Bear – what is your favourite bookshop?
Tricky to choose just one but I would say that Booka Bookshop in Oswestry is a lovely environment and has brought some great authors to the market town.
Button & Bear can be found at:
28 Castle St
The Last Jedi is now officially in cinemas, Christmas is around the corner and, if it hasn’t already, the force of the wish-list awakens…
Here’s our guide to 5 of the galaxy’s greatest gifts for the Jedi/Sith/Droid/Porg in your life:
1. For the fan who’s already booked repeat viewings:
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak
Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattered box-office records as one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and its eagerly awaited sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is sure to do the same. Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, The Brothers Bloom, Brick) and production designed by Rick Heinrichs (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Captain America: The First Avenger), this episode, like every episode before it, owes its visual language and fully imagined cinematic landscape to an incomparable art department: the Lucasfilm ‘visualists.’ The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi explores their vision and illuminates their creative process in stunning detail. Featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards, and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters, and creatures—both old and new—of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Featuring unforgettable art and exclusive interviews with the filmmakers, this visual archive highlights moviemaking magic at its finest.
Darth Vader and Family Coloring Book By Jeffrey Brown
Jeffrey Brown’s reimagining of the Star Wars universe has delighted adult fans and young Jedi alike. This new adult colouring book is equally fun to share, featuring a careful translation of artwork from the bestselling Darth Vader and Son™ series to a large-format collection on crisp white paper, plus nine new images to colour.
Star Wars Kirigami: 15 Cut and Fold Ships from Across the Galaxy By Marc Hagan-Guirey
Celebrated paper artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey has applied his genius to the Star Wars galaxy in this book of 15 unique kirigami (cut-and-fold) ships featured in the saga’s films. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, each beautifully detailed model features step-by-step instructions and a template printed on cardstock—all that’s needed are a utility knife, a cutting mat, and a ruler. Clear tips and guidance through the tricky stages help readers craft their own X-wing, Imperial Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon, and a dozen more ships and vehicles, each accompanied by colourful and inspiring photographs of the final model on display (or ready for a jump to Hyperspace).
Ralph McQuarrie is the most iconic artist in the history of Star Wars. He worked hand-in- hand with George Lucas to help establish the saga’s visual aesthetic, its inimitable look and feel. Carefully selected from the definitive volume, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, these postcards are a celebration of Star Wars as a masterpiece of design and world-building. The deluxe keepsake package also functions as a display frame: the box features a die-cut window, so fans can rotate their favourite production design paintings into view.
Ninety-nine Stormtroopers join the Empire, and then their troubles begin. One takes a lunch break in the carbon freezing chamber. Two underestimate a princess. One picks the wrong time to ask for a promotion. Another fails to show Jabba the proper respect. And one interrupts Lord Vader’s private time, failing him for the last time. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Greg Stones brings a playful wit and sympathy for the plight of the troops as they meet their amusing ends, filling each colorfully painted scenario with fun Star Wars details and appearances by Han, Luke, Chewie, K-2SO, and many other characters. As the trooper count ticks down, how will the last one fare as he receives a very special assignment (on the Death Star)?
The Star Wars Cookbook: BB-Ate Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch
By Lara Starr, photography by Matthew Carden
BB-Ate is rolling into shops in the New Year so store up any gift tokens or pre-order now for some delicious recipes from across the galaxy!
Fuel up with Hans Soloatmeal, battle hunger with Admiral Ackbars, and so much more!
These easy-to-make, mouth-watering recipes feature characters and scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as from the upcoming film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And photographs action figures Star Wars figurines re-creating epic moments from the films provide an extra helping of humour.
Our December Bookshop of the Month 2017 is The Mainstreet Trading Company who have been celebrating ten years since they transformed a former auction house into a destination venue in the picturesque Scottish Border village of St Boswell’s (brown tourist sign included!).
We highly recommend that you visit and spend a few blissful hours here – there is something to tempt everyone. Mainstreet boasts a gorgeous home store and a wonderfully inviting deli, but at its heart is the beautiful bookshop and café. After admiring their magnificent window displays (check out their archive here), you will walk in and be greeted by the unmistakeable aroma of books and coffee, there’s nothing quite like it. You will see crisp white shelves, carefully curated tables and stunning displays that will entice you into browsing, and there is always a bookseller on hand should you need recommendations or help finding a title. Be sure to check out their specialist Children’s and Cookery areas.
Mainstreet is a bookshop that would be hard to leave empty handed, and why would you when you can choose your book (or several!), settle in to the café with a cuppa, crack the spine and begin. Go on, you know you want to…
We caught up with owner Rosamund de la Hay to ask her a few questions:
1. Congratulations on being chosen as our December Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe The Mainstreet Trading Company in three words?
Welcoming, enthusiastic, knowledgeable.
2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
The Book Burrows (or the new books till with our beautiful new wooden counter!)
3. Where do you like to read? In the sun room at home or on a beach on the west coast of Scotland (ideally not in the rain)
4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be? I’d almost certainly revert to being a publisher as in my past life.
5. Excluding The Mainstreet Trading Company – what is your favourite bookshop? Tricky one, there are so many lovely ones! Either The Golden Hare in Edinburgh or Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.
The Mainstreet Trading Company can be found at:
This is a funny and relatable narrative vegetarian cookbook for home cooks of all skill levels from the extremely popular blog A Beautiful Mess (over 1.5 million readers). Eighty yummy-healthy recipes for accessible meals from a trusted source are organised into “weekday”–five days without refined flours, sugars, alcohol, and dairy—and “weekend”–indulgent, flavoured foods. The book is divided into four parts—breakfast, meals, snacks and sweets, and drinks–and each part contains both a weekday and weekend chapter. More than 75 bright, naturally lit photos show plated food and some Beautiful Mess style (outfits, kitchen décor, tools) and ambiance (ingredients, interiors, surfaces, textures). Intended for an audience that’s not feeding a family every night, these recipes serve two.
The following recipes are from A Beautiful Mess: Weekday Weekend by Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson.
Toasts (weekday and weekend)
Welcome to the world of toasts. If you haven’t yet discovered the joys of a hot, crispy, nutty slab of bread spread with a meal-worthy second layer, you’re in for a treat that will serve you (literally) for many a perfect breakfast—and an endless possibility for toppings lends them equally well to snacks or light lunches. A logical progression of the classic toast and butter and jam, you can make them whatever you want, according to time of day, time of year, and what might be in season, all in minutes.
Below are half a dozen recipes for the toast of the toasts, featuring homemade spreads and an updated classic composition or two. The first four are for weekdays and three more indulgent recipes are for the weekend. The homemade spreads make enough to cover a few rounds of toasting; the composed toasts can be multiplied for as many eager diners as you have lining up at your table. Use good-quality whole-grain toast for all (we like Ezekiel brand), or make your own, like our Whole-Wheat English Muffins. The weekend Caprese toast indulges in a traditional white Italian loaf to match the ingredients.
Cashew Cream and Berry Toast
Sweet and creamy on hot toast, this spread makes the perfect weekday replacement for French toast. Add a few more berries and an extra drizzle of honey, if you like.
Combine 1 cup [140g] raw cashews, soaked in water to cover for 1 hour and drained; ¼ cup [30g] fresh or thawed frozen raspberries (if frozen thaw thoroughly first); 2 Tbsp safflower oil; and 1 Tbsp raw honey in a blender and blend to a completely smooth purée. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Fried Egg and Avocado Toast
This breakfast combo has become a new classic. So good and perfectly satisfying, it only takes about 10 minutes to make. For an even more no-fuss version, skip the egg and top with sprouts or toasted sun flower seeds.
Spread ½ tsp store-bought (no sugar added) or homemade mayonnaise thinly on warm toast. Scoop 1/2 ripe avocado on top and mash to cover the toast evenly. Sprinkle with pink Himalayan salt or sea salt. Top with 1 large egg, fried (or scrambled) however you like. Get it while it’s hot!
Red Pepper Hummus Toast
This healthy and satisfying spicy hummus is a bull’s-eye for a midweek craving. Spread on toast and drizzle with a little olive oil. It also makes a great snack paired with carrot sticks, celery, cucumber slices, or baked corn tortilla chips.
Combine 1 can [15 oz/430 g] chickpeas, rinsed and drained well; 1/2 cup [120 g] chopped roasted red pepper, homemade or drained jarred; 1/4 cup [55 g] tahini; 1/4 cup [60 ml] fresh lemon juice; 2 Tbsp water; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper; and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor and process to a completely smooth purée. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cinnamon-Almond Butter Toast
Making your own nut butters is way easier than you might think. This lightly spiced almond butter is amazing on warm toast. Top with a few fresh berries and it goes over the top!
Spread 2 cups [280 g] unsalted raw almonds on a baking sheet and bake in a 300°F [150°C] oven, until fragrant, about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Let cool, then combine in a high-powered blender with 3 Tbsp safflower oil. Process until the almonds are finely ground. Add 1 Tbsp raw honey, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt and process until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Creamy Caprese Toast
This toast is one of my favourite weekend treats. I don’t want to get dramatic, but I believe it might be the mother ship of all toasts . . . I think it will float your boat, too.
Spread 1 Tbsp cream cheese on a thick slice of toasted Italian loaf. Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, a slice of ripe tomato, a few torn basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
Goat Cheese, Fruit and Honey Crostini
I love how balanced and delicious this toast combo is—the sharp tang of goat cheese with honey and fresh fruit. Use whatever fruit is in season.
Spread a generous amount of goat cheese on each crostini. Top with your favourite seasonal fruits and a drizzle of honey.
Pink Cream Cheese Toast
This garlicky, savoury weekend spread is delicious, but the hot pink colour takes it to another plane of delight. Add slices of avocado or cucumber, if you like. You’re going to want to Instagram your breakfast—you may even want to paint its portrait!
In a food processor or blender, combine 8 oz [230 g] cream cheese, 1/2 cup [75 g] drained canned sliced beets, 2 tsp coarsely chopped garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt. Process to a completely smooth purée. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Interviews with 200 women from a variety of backgrounds provide a snapshot of female life around the globe. Interviewees include: • Jane Goodall, conservation and animal welfare activist • Margaret Atwood, author and winner of The Booker Prize • Roxane Gay, author and feminist • Renée Montagne, former host of NPR’s Morning Edition • Alicia Garza, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter • Alfre Woodard, award-winning actor and activist • Marian Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund • Lydia Ko, professional golfer and Olympian • Dolores Huerta, labor activist, community organizer, and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association • Alice Waters, chef, author, and food rights advocate • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author and Macarthur Foundation fellow.
Each woman shares her unique reply to the same five questions: What really matters to you?, What brings you happiness?, What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?, What would you change if you could?, and Which single word do you most identify with?
With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength – inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality. Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image—and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project. A percentage of the originating publisher’s revenue from book sales will be distributed to organisations nominated by the women featured in the book.
The following is an extract from 200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World, edited by Ruth Hobday, Geoff Blackwell, Sharon Gelman and Marianne Lassandro, photographs by Kieran Scott.
Alicia Garza was born in Carmel in California, USA. She is an activist and organiser based in Oakland, California. In 2013, Garza co-founded Black Lives Matter (BLM), an ideological and political organising network campaigning against anti-black racism and violence. In 2016, she and her two BLM co-founders were recognised in Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Garza is the director of special projects for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is also an editorial writer, whose work has been featured in publications including The Guardian, The Nation, The Feminist Wire, Rolling Stone and Huffington Post.
Q. What really matters to you?
I want to be able to tell my kids that I fought for them and that I fought for us. In a time when it’s easy to be tuned out, it feels really important to me to be somebody who stands up for the ability of my kids – of all kids – to have a future.
The other thing that really motivates me is wanting to make sure we achieve our goals. As I was coming up as an organiser, we were told we were fighting for something we might never see in our lifetime. I’m just not satisfied with that; I think change can happen much faster, but it requires organisation, and an understanding of power and how we can shift it from its current incarnation. We need to transform power, so that we’re not fighting the same battles over and over again. This is what I wake up thinking about every single day. And every night when I go to sleep, I’m thinking about how we can get closer to it tomorrow.
Women inspire me to keep going. My foremost in influence was my mother; she initially raised me on her own, having never expected to be a parent at twenty-six. She taught me everything I know about what it means to be a strong woman who is in her power. I’m also very much in influenced by black women throughout history. I’m inspired by Harriet Tubman, not only for all the work she did to free individual slaves – which, of course, was amazing – but for everything she did to eradicate the institution of slavery, the alliances she built to do so and the heartbreaks she endured in pursuit of her vision. And it’s not only women in the United States who inspire me. In Honduras in 2016, Berta Cáceres was murdered while pursuing her vision of ecological justice and a better life for the people in Honduras being preyed upon by corporations and the United States government.
Black Lives Matter has been a big part of my activism. When it came onto the scene, there was a lot of pushback; people responded by saying, ‘All lives matter.’ I think the intensity of these reactions against Black Lives Matter is a testament to how effective our systems are in isolating these kinds of issues – they make them seem as though they impact individuals, as opposed to entire communities. The all-lives-matter thing is simultaneously fascinating and infuriating to me, because it’s so obvious. Obviously all lives matter; it’s like saying the sky is blue or that water is wet. But, when people say, ‘Actually, all lives matter,’ it feels like a passive-aggressive way of saying, ‘White lives matter.’
People seemed shocked that police brutality was an issue, but I thought, ‘Um, where have you been?’ The police are supposed to serve all communities, but instead, they aren’t accountable to black communities in the same way they are to white communities. The United States is rooted in profound segregation, disenfranchisement and oppression in pursuit of profits. And it feels like the country is being powered by amnesia.
Q. What brings you happiness?
My community – absolutely. This includes both of my families, blood and chosen – because my family is also my friends, the people I’ve been through things with. These are the people who stand with me, support me and love me. They are the people who feed me, and we just let each other be, because we understand each other.
Q. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I’d call it capitalism. There is nothing on earth that makes people as miserable, that kills people as avidly and that robs people of their dignity so completely as an economic system that prioritises profits over human needs. Capitalism prioritises profits over people and over the planet we depend on. There are millions and millions of people living on the streets without homes because of capitalism. And there are millions and millions of people suffering from depression and other emotional and mental afflictions because of it – because the things we are taught should drive us and make us happy are unattainable for the majority of people on this planet. Capitalism shapes every understanding you have of who you are and of what your value is. If you have no monetary value – if you can’t sell something that you produce in this economy – then you are deemed unusable, unworthy and extraneous. There is no other force in the world that is so powerful and that causes so much misery for so many people.
Q. What would you change if you could?
I would start with all of the people who are suffering right now. I would give whatever is needed to every mama who is living in a car with her kids and is trying to figure out how she’s going to make it another day – if not for herself then for the people who depend on her. I would give to all the people who are dying in the deserts right now, trying to cross artificial borders pursuing what they think will be a better life here in the United States – if I had a wand I’d make it so that that journey was easier and that there wasn’t punishment on both sides. In fact, I would ensure that no one ever had to leave their homes in pursuit of survival – they would have everything that they needed right there at home.
The other area I would work on is within our own movements. I spend a lot of time thinking about how we could be clear about what we’re up against and how we each fight it differently; I think about how we can advance our goals without tearing each other up along the way. So, if I could wave a wand, I would also change some of the suffering of organisers and activists in our movements who are tired and burned out, who feel disposable and don’t feel seen.
Q. Which single word do you most identify with?
Courage. It takes real tenacity to be courageous.
200 Women is out from 31 October, find out more here. You can view the official project website here, which includes the trailer and additional extra media content. Follow 200 Women on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon’s signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity.
The following is an extract from A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon.
Cheryl’s famous memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was published when she was 43 years old. It took her two and a half years to trace the steps, challenges, and revelations she faced during her three-month, 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific Northwest onto paper—and about two minutes for the finished book to land on the New York Times bestseller list. In the months following, Cheryl experienced instant fame—from Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 to the film adaptation championed by Reese Witherspoon and Nick Hornby, Wild went, well, wild. It is an international bestseller and a recipient of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Oregon Book Award. Cheryl is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough. Her first novel, Torch, was published in 2007. Her essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Vogue, and Tin House, among others, and her work has been selected three times for inclusion in the The Best American Essays. She anonymously authored The Rumpus’s popular Dear Sugar advice column from 2010 to 2012, for which she now cohosts a podcast. She currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.
Lisa: You worked for many years at writing, and it wasn’t until just a few short years ago, in your early 40s, you published the book that made you a household name. I encounter a lot of young artists who imagine that if they just concoct some magical formula they can have “instant success.” How would you describe the role of purpose, work, and patience in your own journey?
Cheryl: I was a successful writer long before Wild was published. What happened with Wild wasn’t “success.” It was crazy lightning striking. I’m always taken aback when people imply that I achieved success in my 40s. In fact, I had a pretty steady upward career trajectory as a writer, and all of that came about because, as you say, I showed up each day to do the work. I began publishing in my 20s. By the time I was in my early 30s I had won many awards and grants, and was publishing in respected magazines, and I’d earned my MFA in creative writing. In my mid-30s I sold my first novel to a major publisher and it was broadly reviewed and sold well. Meanwhile, I was continuing to publish essays in prominent places and I was also teaching writing.
I was known in the literary community. Then Wild happened and with that came fame and a much broader international audience. It was astounding and glorious, but it didn’t, for me, mark the beginning of the sense that I’d arrived as a writer. I was already there and I’m still here—working my tail off. That’s the magic formula: work.
Lisa: One of the most life-changing lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years is the power of embracing all of my life experience, and this is something you write about as well. Why is this idea of owning and learning to love all of your experience (even the stuff that makes us cringe or that would normally make us feel shame), why is it so important?
Cheryl: I’ve long believed our mistakes and failures teach us as much as our victories and successes. When you acknowledge the full spectrum of your possibility—as both someone who can be great and as someone who is sometimes not so great—you can bring the full force of your humanity to everything you do.
Lisa: What for you is the best part of getting older?
Cheryl: Feeling more secure about who I am. Feeling stronger about being okay with disappointing people. Putting up less of a facade. Being gentler with myself and others, too.
Lisa: What do you think is the relationship between forgiveness and the ability to age joyfully?
Cheryl: I’ve written about forgiveness a lot and it all pretty much boils down to the fact that when you can’t forgive people who have harmed you (or forgive yourself for the harm you’ve done to others) you stay locked in that struggle. Forgiveness is, to me, really acceptance. Accepting that what’s true is true. It’s saying, this is the way it was and onward we go.
Lisa: What are the three greatest lessons you’ve learned in the last ten years?
Cheryl: 1. Saying no is one form of saying yes. 2. Our ideas about famous people are projections of who we are, not a reflection of who they are. 3. Everyone struggles. Everyone hurts. Everyone wants to be told it’s all going to be okay.
Lisa: What advice do you have for women who fear getting older?
Cheryl: The fear of getting older is about the false notion that one’s power was rooted in the things that youth offers us—namely, beauty. My advice would be to see that for the lie that it always was. Our power is never about how pretty we are. Our power is about how we live our lives. Start living it.