How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is an absolute must for your beach bag this summer. With a Starred review and praise from Emily Giffin and Elinor Lipman, Center has written the perfect companion to your crisp glass of Rose’. I was thrilled when she sat down to chat and shared her current reads, love for coffee and Tina Fey .gif’s 😉
via Amazon ~
From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best―a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.
1. What three celebrities/authors/figures—living or dead, would you want to have a bookclub with?
I’ve been bingeing on Carrie Fisher’s audiobooks (all the memoirs: The Princess Diarist, Wishful Drinking, and Shockaholic), and now I feel like now we are best friends, so she’s first on my list. Next, I’d say Meryl Streep, because she’s Meryl Streep—and a Vassar girl, like myself, though I suspect that means more to me than it does to her. And then, of course, for all obvious, fabulous reasons: Oprah.
2. Current binge series?
I just finished a BBC TV series called The Halcyon, which was divine—set in a fancy-as-a-castle hotel in London during WWII and profiling the lives of the aristocratic owners and the staff of the hotel. Totally luxe sets and costumes and yummy romance and intrigue and blitz-related drama. They had storylines planned for every year of the war, but it just got canceled. Actually, they didn’t know they were being canceled when they filmed the last episode, so it ended on a cliffhanger. Unsatisfying, but worth it overall. I’ll just write a fan-fiction ending in my head . . . .
3. Last favorite book?
I read Everything, Everything on my daughter’s recommendation and absolutely loved it. Devoured it in a day.
4. What 3 things to you pack in your bag for your dream vacation? Where is it?
Books, notebooks, and a fuzzy robe. And I’d go somewhere chilly and cozy with cobblestone streets and fairy tale architecture. My mom’s family is from Germany and Ireland, and I’ve never been to either. Denmark’s on the list. So’s Iceland. Also, I want to see the Fjords. And the little town of Giethoorn in the Netherlands that they call “the Venice of the North,” where you can only get around in charming little boats.
5. Sunday NYT or US Weekly?
A little bit of both, I’d say. I’m a hybrid.
6. Last person you sent a text message to?
My daughter. With a .gif of Tina Fey doing finger-guns.
7. Book you read that you wished you wrote?
Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret. I don’t get that feeling too often, but I had it in a big way with that one. It was the first book of hers I’d read, and I just admired so much the way she got inside—and dramatized—her character’s thoughts. They felt utterly real, totally 3D, and I felt for those people so much. It was like I became them, all of them at once, in this magical feat of empathy and imagination. So many articulated moments of insight about the human condition. Just a rich, satisfying, heart-expanding read.
8. Do you have a teacher who encouraged you to become a writer?
Many! I was lucky. Almost every english teacher I ever had encouraged me in some way. My sixth grade english teacher, Mrs. Paulus, sent me a note in the summer saying she knew I was going to grow up to be a writer. My 11th grade history teacher, Dr. Zammito, predicted my future career with total confidence. And my beloved Vassar professor Beverly Coyle once told me, “I can count on one finger the students I’ve had who can write like you.”
9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, who?
I never listen to music when I write, and it’s mostly because I feel like the words have their own rhythm, and I don’t want anything pushing against that. The writing process is very auditory for me. I hear a voice talking in my head—the narrator. Then I write down what the voice is saying and shape it as I go. I have to hear it all, both as the words are coming and after they reach the page.
10. Describe your writing space?
The bathtub! And the bed. Actually, I’ll write anywhere in my house. Any soft place I can curl up with a fuzzy blanket and my laptop or manuscript (no laptop in the tub, of course). I don’t have an office, though I tried it once. We set up a little area in our attic as my office, but I never went up there. It felt too far away from everything. Writing’s lonely enough as it is.
11. Coffee or tea?
Oh, God, coffee! I brew cups of it constantly when I’mwriting, and I don’t even drink them all. I justlike the idea of them. The sound of the percolator, the buttery brown color, the warmth, the aroma—even just the scent of dry grounds in the bag.
12. Do you have a favorite book that you gift?
I’m most likely to match books to people, so I’m eclectic with book gifting—but I have definitely given Tina Fey’s Bossypants to many people.
13. Book that you wished they would make a movie out of?
I’d like to see them turn more romance novels into movies. The world is sadly devoid of romance these days. Every now and then, the BBC remakes a Jane Austen, but there are lots of great love stories out there that would make delicious, swoon-worthy movies. I’d love to see Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflowers series as movies.
14. If you could have one song as the theme song of your life what would it be and why?
Sheesh. This is tough. I could name fifty right now, and tomorrow I’d pick something different. But today, right now, I pick the Beatles’ “I Will,” which is both sad and catchy, both mournful and hopeful, and full of both love and loss. All that rich bittersweetness wrapped up in the chocolate-y smoothness of Paul McCartney’s divine voice. With harmonies.
15. What/Who inspires you?
I am genuinely, viscerally inspired when I get to see the best in people. Kindness, courage, nurturing, self-sacrifice. I love stories about how we overcome hardship and how we take care of each other. I love people who do the right thing, even when it would be easier to do the opposite. I love people who laugh a lot, and find ways to stay hopeful, and savor any joy that comes along.
16. Bravo reality TV- yes or no?
Can I answer “sometimes”? I’ve definitely gotten hooked on various shows in the past—Top Chef, Project Runway, Queer Eye—But I’m probably more of an HGTV person at this point. I like shows about people making things, renovating things, and improving things. I love to watch the creative process in action. I recently got hooked on a show called Stone House Revival about a carpenter who renovates revolutionary-war era farmhouses in Pennsylvania—exposing beams, and stone walls, and giant old cooking hearths. So fun to see those farmhouses come back to life! Delicious.
17. Favorite Instagram account?
There’s a great one called Words of Women that features great quotes and snippets of wisdom.
18. If you could name just one lipstick after a book, what would you call it and what shade would it be?
Pride & Prejudice.
And it would be the color you’d get if you crushed a raspberry into a chocolate bar.
19. Current #TBR pile?
I always have a big stack of books eyeballing me from the bedside table. I’m a glacially slow reader—I have to hear the words in my head like talking—so it’s a very slow rotation. Here’s the current stack.
Tell Me Three Things—Julie Buxbaum
The Year of Yes—Shonda Rhimes
The Inn at Lake Divine—Elinor Lipman
The Light We Lost—Jill Santopolo
The Morning Gift—Eva Ibbotson
and The DaVinci Code, because I’ve never read it.
20. Best advice you’ve ever received?
From my dad, for writing: “Write it. Then go back and take out half the words.” And from my mom, for life: “You just have to assume everything is okay until you have evidence to the contrary.”