Anna Quindlen: You’re Never Alone When You Read Great Novels
On Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady
In this episode of Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady, Anna Quindlen joins Roxanne Coady to discuss her latest book, Write For Your Life, out now from Random House.
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From the episode:
Anna Quindlen: You’ve got to ask yourself which impulse is motivating you. If one of the things you’re doing is to write things down so that you can look at them and say, That is not as terrible as I thought it was. That’s not as destabilizing as I thought it was. That’s one kind of journal. The journal that you might not mind your granddaughter finding in a box is probably in some ways a different kind of journal. So I think that you have to make a decision about what you want to put down on paper based on how comfortable you are with future generations reading it.
On the other hand, I think if you’re grappling with difficult situations, difficult ideas, and difficult experiences, one of the great uses of writing for people down the road is to look and say, I am not alone. When you read about something that your mother went through or your grandmother went through, and you suddenly realize that it’s a cousin or a sister who is exactly what you’re going through. There’s something so … empowering.
I think the uses of reading and the uses of writing first and foremost, are for people to be able to say to themselves, I am not alone. Because isolation, that sense of a loss of connection and community, is one of the greatest, if not the greatest besetting ills of modern life. That’s why when you read great novels and you say, I’m not alone. And you write something that someone else responds to and you say, I’m not alone. And I think that’s all to the good.
Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of many novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, Every Last One, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Miller’s Valley. Her memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake was a #1 New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear.
Roxanne Coady is owner of R.J. Julia, one of the leading independent booksellers in the United States, which—since 1990—has been a community resource not only for books, but for the exchange of ideas. In 1998, Coady founded Read To Grow, which provides books for newborns and children and encourages parents to read to their children from birth. RTG has distributed over 1.5 million books.