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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Words to Live By: Carolyn Mackler

Words to Live By features exclusive interviews with authors, artists, and community members.

Carolyn Mackler is the acclaimed author of the YA novels The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (A Michael L. Printz Honor Book), The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I, Infinite in Between, Tangled, and the middle grade novels Not If I Can Help It and Best Friend Next Door. Her first adult novel, The Wife App, will be published on June 27. Carolyn’s award-winning books have appeared on bestseller lists and been translated into more than twenty-five languages! Carolyn lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.


June 1, 2023

Is there a book or genre that stands out in your memory from your youth?

I’ve always loved realistic fiction. When I was very young, I was obsessed with Beverly Cleary. Then I shifted into Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, M.E. Kerr. I appreciated that these authors were writing it how it is. Their honest stories helped guide me through my childhood.

What kind of reader were you as a child?

I read constantly. I went to the library all the time. There are so many childhood pictures of me with a novel tucked between my knees.

What are three children’s books you think should be on every child’s bookshelf?

I could never answer that! Every child needs different books. It is an adult’s job to help find those matches, and take them to libraries and bookstores so they can browse. And then adults should never judge a child’s choice. Reading is so personal.

Book Harvest is proud to practice Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s theory of “Mirrors, Windows, Sliding Glass Doors,” which states that in order to become avid readers and reap the full benefits of lifelong literacy, children have to see both themselves and worlds beyond their own in the stories they read. Is there a book that you saw yourself reflected in as a child? Or one that opened new worlds for you?

I loved Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume. I am half-Jewish and grew up in a town with a lot of anti-semitism. Sally help me connect with my Jewish side that I so badly wanted to hide, and also to see a world outside of a place where I felt I had to hide being Jewish.

What kind of books are on your bookshelf?

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Normal People by Sally Rooney. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub. Chemistry by Weike Wang. Smart Women by Judy Blume. That novel actually inspired my first novel for adults, The Wife App.

What are you reading currently?

I’m about to finish The Great Believer by Rebecca Makkai. I’ve stayed up too late every night this week reading it.

What is your favorite place to read?

Couch. Bed. Hammock. I guess some place I’m reclining!

Who is your favorite all-time character from a book?

Little Bear. He was so imaginative and adorable and he had the best family.

If you could have dinner with three authors from any period in time, who would you pick?

I’ve been lucky enough to have dinner with many of my favorite authors. I couldn’t pick three. Can we get a huge table and invite them all?

What are the children in your life currently reading?

My older son is reading 1Q84 by Haruki Marakami. My younger son is reading All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin.

Do you have a favorite quote from literature? If so, what is it?

Didn’t someone once say, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” That is my life.

We are grateful to Carolyn for answering our questions! You can learn more about her here.


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