9 in ’09 with Hallie Ephron

A few weeks  ago I reviewed 1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Ephron and really enjoyed it.  Hallie took the time to email me after seeing the review and offered to send me a copy of her newest book The Bibliophiles Devotional: 365 Days of Literary Classics.  I mean how can a list lover like me resist a book from a great list maker?  I couldn’t resist and I’ve been reading about a new book every day and loving it.  Thanks, Hallie! 

Anyway, Hallie is the author of 4 books and you can visit her website here

And now the nine questions…

1. My first question has to be about growing up in a house full of writers.  What was your childhood like with parents who were writers and three other sisters (Nora, Delia,Amy) who are writers too? It must have been wonderful to grow up in such a creative home.

Our house overflowed with books – wall to wall bookcases, bedside tables stacked with books to be read and re-read (cookbooks and children’s books on my mother’s; history and economics on my father’s), and as kids we were read to early and often (the Oz books, Little Women, The Little Princess…).  My mother recited poetry after dinner, and we grew up cherishing words.

2. I loved your book 1001 Books For Every Mood, probably because I love books and lists.  How long did it take for you to decide what books to include and did you have to cut any favorites?

Thank you!  I love books and lists, too.  It took me months to decide which books to include.  I started, of course, with my favorites, and then talked to booksellers and librarians and readers and anyone who had the temerity to cross my path holding a book.  I also cherry-picked from many great lists out there, like Sports Illustrated list of best sports books, Business Week’s list of best business books, TIME’s list of great books, and of course the ones that Oprah has recommended.  If someone mentioned a book I hadn’t heard of I found it to decide if I thought it was gem worthy including.

3. Your new book The Bibliophile’s Devotional is 365 Days of Literary Classics.  Can you tell us what defines a classic for you?

Hmmm…I’d say one that’s stood the test of time.  One that influenced the way we think, like books that were the first of their kind (did you know Oliver Twist was the first book in English with a child protagonist?).

4. You write book reviews for the Boston Globe.  Do you think  blogs and websites devoted to books have changed newspaper reviews or do you think they serve two different purposes?

I think blogs and web sites can give books visibility that is so very hard to garner right now since there are so many books out there and so little is spent on advertising.  They can build buzz and community.  Book reviews serve more of a critical purpose, I thin, to select and highlight quality (good and bad).

5. Have you discovered a favorite new author in the last year or two?

Oh, gosh yes.  Where to begin?  Leonie Swan (“Three Bags Full”); Carolyn Wall (“Sweeping Up Galss”); Josh Bazell (“Beat the Reaper”); Alan Bradley (“The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”); Spencer Quinn (“Dog On It”)…I could go on.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

Not so much a quote as a paragraph…I LOVE Carl Sandburg’s “Rootabaga Stories” – read it to revel in the words and images.  It’s pure joy.  One of my favorite stories in it is “Three Boys with Jugs of Molasses and Secret Ambitions.”  SO FULL of wonderful lines!  Here’s just a sample: “Eeta Peeca Pie grew up with wishes and wishes working inside him.  And for every wish inside him he had a freckle outside on his face.  Whenever he smiled the smile ran way back into the far side of his face and got lost in the wishing freckles.”  Don’t you love that idea of “wishing freckles?”

7. What are you currently reading?

For myself I just read Sheila Wellers’ “Girls Like Us” – it’s a meaty nonfiction about Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon, and the generation they exemplify.  Loved it.

8. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

9. And finally, what are you working on now?

I’m finishing a novel – psychological suspense like my last one “Never Tell a Lie.”

Thanks so much for stopping by, Hallie!