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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"How do you approach Mother's Day?"


How do you approach Mother’s Day? With reverence and joy, or sorrow and trepidation? Are you fulfilled, exhausted or both from being a dutiful child or caretaking parent? No matter what your emotions, these engrossing books about mothers, children and parenting are bound to speak to you.
Particularly wonderful is a collection gathered by Elizabeth Benedict, What My Mother Gave Me. READ MORE

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oprah Gets Involved - a Free e-Reader too

If you're a tweeter, Oprah Magazine/website & Algonquin, publisher of What My Mother Gave Me, are having a contest to give away 2 new e-readers loaded with the anthology, and a copy of the book itself. Take a look here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Finally, A Book My Grandmother Would Like ...

The story of my grandmother, my first novel (chocked with sex), and another sort of first book, just published on Huffington Post's Book Page:
My grandmother never used to phone me, so when I heard her voice on the phone that night in 1985, I was startled.
"I just read your book," she said sharply, "and I don't like it." She meant my first novel, Slow Dancing, which had recently been published by Knopf and greeted with far more attention than I had expected, "When are you going to write a book your grandmother will like?"
I knew what she meant: the book was filled with sex -- the pre-marital kind -- and references to it, beginning with the opening line. MORE...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Indie Bestseller ~~

Join me this Sunday, April 21, at the Westport, CT Public Library, talking about What My Mother Gave Me, co-sponsored by the Barnard Club of Connecticut. 2PM. Here's the info

In other happy news: What My Mother Gave Me has made the extended Indie Bestseller List. Today we're number 38. Who knows how high we can climb. Algonquin has made it easy to purchase the book--it's an original paperback, with a cover price of $15.95. 

AND if you go to your favorite indie and buy a Kobo (the indie answer to a Kindle) from now until May 13, you get a free copy of the anthology loaded on your e-reader. Here's the offer, which is sponsored by Algonquin. 

Thanks for checking in, thanks for reading.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Good Week for Mothers and Daughters

It's been a great week for the launch of the anthology. Tuesday night at one of the country's premier bookstores, Politics & Prose, in Washington DC, we had our debut panel reading and discussion, with contributors Susan Stamberg and Eleanor Clift. We were honored to be introduced by P & P's co-founder, Barbara Meade, who came out of retirement to welcome us. The event was taped and will soon be on the P&P website. I'll post that here once it's up, and you can see the energy and emotion that gripped all of us. Thanks to everyone who came, to everyone at P&P, and to Eleanor and Susan. 

The book got a fabulous review the following day by a women's organization, Changerous, written by Kirsty Clarke Brown, which includes my favorite review line to far: "This is not a sentimental read." 

Yesterday, at Barnard College, my alma mater, I spoke to a group of alumnae over brunch about the book, about gifts, men, women, mothers and families. 

Wherever I go, I meet people who know contributors to the book - yesterday at Barnard, I met friends of Cheryl Sucher and Jean Hanff Korelitz. 

Tomorrow, Sunday morning, April 14, I'll be selling books at the International Women's Writing Guild Big Apple Conference and attending a workshop presented by Amy Ferris

This coming week, on Wed. April 17, I'll be talking about the book, solo here, Columbia University's main bookstore, run by Barnes & Noble, at Broadway and 114th St., 6PM.

Please remember to post a photo and story of your mother's favorite gift to you, at our tumblr site, run by Algonquin ~ and to see photos of the gifts and mothers and daughters in the book.

Thanks for checking in~~

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Susan Stamberg, Eleanor Clift & Me @ Politics & Prose, Washington DC

Our kick-off book event is this Tuesday, April 9th at 7pm, with contributors Susan Stamberg and Eleanor Clift, two legendary women broadcasters. Susan was one of the founders of National Public Radio, and was the long-time host of "All Things Considered." Eleanor has been a print journalist at Newsweek and the Daily Beast, but may be best known as one of the liberal voices on the McLaughlin Group, on PBS. We'll be talking about mothers, daughters and gifts at Politics & Prose, Washington DC's wonderful bookstore. Details are here

Please join us. If you'd like a signed copy of the book but can't make it to the event, please call the store in advance, buy your book over the phone, and request that we sign it.  Phone numbers: 202 364-1919 - 800 722 0790. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Longing, grief, and hard-won forgiveness...

MORE magazine likes us, they really like us (May 2013). 

What My Mother Gave Me is one of five books on mothers they reviewed "that dig deep": 

"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." 

Congratz to all the writers of these fine essays.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My First Time ... Getting My Picture Taken by a Pro

Thanks to FOBBIT author David Abrams, who curates the blog Quivering Pen, for inviting me to tell him about My First Time ... getting my picture taken, by legendary photographer, Tom Victor (RIP), which you can read right here. Tom was the go-to author photographer in the 1970s and '80s, and most famously took pictures of Susan Sontag - and lots of others.  Thanks for taking a look. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mothers. Daughters. Gifts.

The book is on sale today. Everywhere. Paperback. E-book. i-Book. Your local indie. Your favorite whatever. Here's a list of most of your favorite stores...  And if you want to submit a photo and a story about your favorite gift from your mother, please go to our tumblr account right here!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Motherhood Redux

Huffington Post ran the introduction to What My Mother Gave Me on its Books Page, which you can read here and buy here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dahlia Lithwick's "Plant Whisperer" on

Thanks to for previewing Dahlia Lithwick's wonderful essay from What My Mother Gave Me, "The Plant Whisperer." The book is out next Tuesday, April 2, but available now in many indie bookstores. The buzz on the book is great. The essays are - in my completely biased view - totally awesome. Huge thanks to all the contributors and the publications that have been running the first serials. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Early Magazine & Blog Reviews are In~

I'm heartened to see so many early, positive reviews of What My Mother Gave Me already on-line, including this from ForeWord Reviews“A single gift can easily tell the story of an entire life,” writes Elizabeth Benedict, editor of and contributor to the anthologyWhat My Mother Gave Me. In the book’s case, a single gift has the ability to tell the story of two lives: mother and daughter. Here, thirty-one women writers spanning five generations essay their way into the stories of their relationships with their mothers, with a particular present serving as the writer’s muse. The impressive lineup of novelists, poets, columnists, journalists, and essayists includes both a National Book Award and MacArthur Fellowship recipient, a US poet laureate, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic, a television producer, and a civil rights activist."

I'm particularly thrilled by the kind words of Book Diva, who writes: "I highly recommend this book to everyone, it is not only inspiring, but also a lovely study on the mother-daughter relationship. It is a book filled with humor, poignancy and love. There is a story within the pages for every daughter and every mother."

Monday, March 18, 2013

What My Mother Gave Me: 31 Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most

The pub. date for my new anthology is April 2nd. In the run-up to it, and once it's published, you're invited to post photos of your favorite gift, with its story, from your mother, on this tumblr site. In the meantime, take a look at the gifts the writers' mothers gave them! So far, Joyce Carol Oates' mother's quilts are posted, along with a sexy pair of leopard skin ankle boots, from Charlotte Silver's mother. They are both contributors to the anthology. You can go to the tumblr site to read more about the book and pre-order a copy. It's an original paperback, and lists for $15.95.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Art vs. Commerce: Writing for Love & Money

When asked her advice to young writers, Grace Paley said: "Keep your overhead low." For some practical advice and war stories on living as a writer mostly outside the academy, please join me and a raft a wonderful writers, Sat. March 9 at the AWP in Boston, for the panel I'm moderating: ART vs. COMMERCE: WRITING FOR LOVE & MONEY. My fabulous fellow panelists are Maud Newton, Stephen McCauley, Steve Almond, and Stephen Elliott. 3:00 to 4:15pm, Room 210, Hynes Center, Boston.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

12 Steps of Book Lust & Beyond

(first appeared on

1. We admitted we were powerless over literature-that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than our humdrum lives could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our book shelves and e-readers over to the care of Book Lust as we understood it.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our bookshelves, our closets, and our e-readers.
5. Admitted to Goodreads, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our obsession.
6-12. And so on.

Speaking of obsessions, it's wonderful to be here among those with similar/identical obsessions - those searching for What to Read Next, What to Recommend, maybe even What to Write.

These days, I'm bouncing between projects, or is it "among" projects, since there are more than two?

 1. Working on a novel I started 3 or 4 times over the years, kept putting aside in frustration, and looked at a few months ago and saw something I thought I could work with. (Lesson here: never throw anything out!)

2.  Gearing up to promote my new anthology, What My Mother Gave Me: 31 Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most, pub date April 2. It's been a joy to work on this book with so many fabulous writers, so many fabulous essays, and a subject that touches all of us: an emblematic gift from our mothers that opens up into the entire relationship. I'll be doing readings, panels, and brunches in the period leading up to Mother's Day, at venues near and far. Check back in for details.

In the next few weeks, I'll post links here to several of the essays that have already been published early in magazines, so you get a flavor of what's to come.

3. On Sat. March 9, I'm chairing a panel at the AWP in Boston called "Art vs. Commerce: Writing for Love and Money," from 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. My fellow panelists are 3 men named Steve and Maud Newton: Steve Almond, Stephen Elliott, and Stephen McCauley. My first question to them will be: Do you write for love or money?

Hope to see you there, or here.
~~ Liz

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Update is coming w/ Tumblr

Stay tuned for a new look, a new blog and lots of photos. Thanks.