Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Grief, Longing, Gratitude~Pop-up Book Groups for Mother's Day

What's the most meaningful gift your mother ever gave you - the one that opens the door to your rich, complicated relationship with her? 

When I asked 30 amazing women this question - including many writers whose work you know well - What My Mother Gave Me was the answer. The collection was an instant hit and a New York Times Bestseller when it came out two years ago, and it's still going strong. Among the contributors: Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Gordon, Katha Pollitt, Rita Dove, Karen Karbo, Eleanor Lipman, Dahlia Lithwick, Sheila KohlerCaroline Leavitt, Roxana Robinson, and pastor and writer Lillian Daniel

In honor of Mother's Day - May 10th - Book the Writer has arranged two pop-up book groups - one in Manhattan, one in Princeton - to discuss the book and talk to the editor (me) and several contributors at these events.  Book the Writer brings authors to homes to talk in intimate settings to book groups.  Space is limited. Scroll down to reserve now. 


On Monday April 27th, from 7.30 to 9.30, I'll be in an apartment in NYC, with contributors Elinor Lipman, Sheila Kohler, and BOOK THE WRITER founder, Jean Hanff Korelitz. For reservations and ticket information (reservation and fee are necessary):

On Saturday May 9, from 3.00 to 5.00, I'll be at Gratitude Yoga on Witherspoon Street in Princeton, with Jean Korelitz, and a surprise guest or two. For reservations and ticket information (reservation and fee necessary):

"Each essay is beautifully crafted, and editor Benedict provides the perfect balance of emotions. For anyone trying to understand mother-daughter relationships, this collection provides the answer." —Publishers Weekly
“Original tributes by celebrated novelists, poets and journalists detail the regard in which the writers hold their mothers or their memory of their mothers even as they contemplate complex parent/child relationships in retrospect.” —Louisville Courier-Journal

"The complexity and soul-deep connection of the mother-daughter bond is vividly explored in this emotionally eloquent collection of essays." —Family Circle

"Longing, grief and hard-won forgiveness pervade this essay collection by a stellar group of writers as they take stock of the gifts, visible and invisible, their mothers left behind."—MORE Magazine

Saturday, May 18, 2013

New York Times Bestseller List!

What My Mother Gave Me is #16 on the May 26th New York Times Bestseller List (nonfiction paperback)!! Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible - most especially my 30 co-authors.

For those who couldn't come to any of our events, our evening at the New York Society Library on May 7th is here on video, with contributors Margo Jefferson, Martha McPhee, and Roxana Robinson. It was a full house, and we learned during the Q/A that contributor Jean Korelitz's mother was in attendance, as was our favorite cultural concierge, Head Butler, Jesse Kornbluth, who recommended the anthology for Mother's Day - and beyond.

Thanks one and all!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NPR Interview on "Tell Me More"

Listen in here on our conversation with NPR's Michel Martin, who hosts a show every weekday called Tell Me More. I was with anthology contributor Cecilia Muñoz, a longtime Latina activist and MacArthur fellow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Celebrating and Missing Our Mothers This Week

I have been so moved by so many responses to What My Mother Gave Me, from radio broadcasters to this email from the director of a senior center in Connecticut: 

"This morning over coffee, I was sitting with a few members talking about your book, What My Mother Gave Me, and the reactions were priceless. The conversation was difficult for some, joyful for others and appreciated by all. Especially for our older seniors, talking about their own  mothers is now a  relative rarity.  Our book discussion group has added the collection to their list for this summer."

Wednesday, May 8, contributor Cecilia Muñoz and I talk to NPR's Michel Martin, on her show "Tell Me More," during the last third of the hour. Please check here to find out what time the show airs on your local NPR station. 

Among the many new reviews are this one from Ladies Home Journal, which recommends giving a box of tissues with the book. And these words from FIRST for Women, May 20th issue, print only: 

"'It may sound corny, but my mom really is my best friend,' shares FIRST assistant editor Cassandra Zink. 'So when I saw this collection, I couldn't resist picking it up... My favorite essay was by Rev. Lillian Daniel, who shared how she learned to see the beauty in broken things... It made me think of all the wonderful things my mother had given me."

Tonight, May 7, a group of us will talk and read at the New York Society Library at 6.30, 53 E. 79th St. Join Margo Jefferson, Martha McPhee, and Roxana Robinson

Thursday, May 9, we'll be in Brooklyn, at Greenlight Books, with Mary Morris, Maud Newton, Elissa Schappell, and Emma Straub, at 7.30. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

AARP, Head Butler & the Indie Bestseller List

It's been a wonderful week for What My Mother Gave Me. Our event, with contributors Mameve Medwed and Charlotte Silver, at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, was great fun, and family and friends - and maybe even a few people we didn't know - came out in abundance. Thanks to the bookstore and to Mameve and Charlotte.

AARP's on-line magazine gave us a rave review, by Bethanne Patrick, and so did Jesse Kornbluth, journalist extraordinaire and cultural concierge, at

From Bethanne Patrick at AARP
"What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gift That Mattered Most, edited by novelist Elizabeth Benedict, features fond-but-wise recollections by some high-candlepower daughters: Joyce Carol Oates, Roxana Robinson, Marge Piercy, Rita Dove — you get the picture. These essays are not fluff pieces. (Not a chocolate box or silk scarf in sight, I’m happy to report.) Instead they’re deeply considered, deeply felt writings on identity and relationships."

From Jesse Kornbluth on

What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most: Elizabeth Benedict collected essays from women not inclined to platitudes. A strong, smart, complex anthology.  You may recognize Elizabeth Benedict’s name not only for her own work but for her writing as a Guest Butler. On Tuesday, May 7, at 6.30 PM, she’ll be speaking at the New York Society Library, 53 E. 79th St. with Margo Jefferson, Martha McPhee and Roxana Robinson. For a reservation, click here.

Last week, the book debuted at 24 on the Indie Bestseller List. With Mother's Day coming up on May 12, it may inch up. Stay tuned. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Slate Radio: Susan Stamberg, Eleanor Clift & Me at Politics and Prose

If you couldn't make it to our kickoff event at Politics & Prose, in Washington DC, you can listen to the podcast, by Slate Radio and produced by Politics & Prose. I was lucky enough to be with contributors Susan Stamberg and Eleanor Clift. It was a wonderful event. I hope that comes through in the podcast.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Amazon's Top-10 Books Picks for Mother's Day

I was thrilled to learn that What My Mother Gave Me is one of Amazon's Top 10 Book Picks for Mother's Day - especially given the company, including Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.

Mother's Day is May 12. Visit our Tumblr page, look at photos of the gifts our mothers gave us, and find your favorite bookstore. Best news: it's a paperback, with a cover price of $15.95.