Celebrate Jewish Book Month with #30days30authors! JBC invited an author to share thoughts on #JewLit for each day of Jewish Book Month. Watch, read, enjoy, and discover!
Today, Brenda Janowitz, author of The Dinner Party, tells us about the book that she couldn’t put down.
When asked about my favorite books of all time, books that have moved me, books that I come back to over and over again, it’s a long list. After all, I love reading, and I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. In the second grade, I was dubbed “The Bookworm” by my teacher, Mrs. Pepper, and I can’t say that much has changed for me. I’m now the author of five novels, and I can still always be found with a book in my hand. Or on my desk. Or in my car. In addition to writing, I’m the PopSugar Books Consultant, so now, reading and recommending books is my job.
When someone asks me about my favorite books, there’s one book I always recommend. It’s a book that my best friend gave to me when I was in law school. At the time, I had my head firmly planted inside law books all day long and had very little time for pleasure reading. She asked me if I’d ever read Elinor Lipman before, and when I shook my head no, pressed a copy of The Inn at Lake Devine into my hands.
There’s just something about The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. In it, a twelve-year-old Natalie Marx becomes obsessed with the titular inn after its owner, in 1962, refuses to let the Marx family stay at the resort because they are Jews. Natalie’s fixation on the inn lasts for years, and has unexpected consequences on her personal life as she gets older.
I was so taken by this novel. We often say “I couldn’t put it down” when describing books, but in this case, the saying is true. I devoured it in one sitting, gobbling up the wonderful prose, the intelligent humor, and the Jewish heroine who felt so familiar, so comforting. So much like me.
It had been so long since I’d connected with a book so personally, a book that I could recite from memory. The Inn at Lake Devine is the book that brought me back to pleasure reading, and made me realize that I had a story to tell, too.
Years later, I had the good fortune of meeting Elinor Lipman at one of her events. I gushed to her about how much the book had meant to me and she smiled and thanked me. It was only when I got home and prepared to put the signed book on my shelf that I saw how she had inscribed the book: “To Brenda, The Inn loves you back.”
Brenda is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party (St. Martin’s April 2016). She is also the author of Scot on the Rocks, Jack with a Twist, Recipe for a Happy Life and The Lonely Hearts Club. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, Bustle, The Forward, the New York Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Hello Giggles, Writer’s Digest Magazine, and xojane.