|photo: Creel Studio
Abbi Waxman worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She writes every day, largely so she can get a moment's peace from the three kids, three dogs, three cats and six chickens that have her surrounded at her home in Los Angeles. Her novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings, was published by Berkley on May 2, 2017.
On your nightstand now:
I am working on a book right now, so I tend to mostly read nonfiction day to day. Otherwise I might steal all the good stuff. Right now I'm reading I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong, which is about the teeming throngs of bacteria we have living in and around us. It's making me a bit itchy, I won't lie, but it's great.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Generally speaking, my favorite book was the one that was closest to me at the time. I was, and remain, a book slut. But to give you a more sensible answer, I loved all the Oz books by Ruth Plumly Thompson, who took over after L. Frank Baum died. She wrote more than 20 books, and they're all filled with puns, wordplay and humor. I'm reading them to my own kids now and they're just as wonderful as ever.
Your top five authors:
Like I said, I sleep around a lot, book-wise, but these are longstanding relationships. Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe mysteries; I read and re-read these all the time. His character names alone are worth it--they're brilliant. Jane Austen, because Pride and Prejudice is the best book to read when life feels overwhelming. It's like a favorite chair, or soft quilt: I know I'll feel better when I'm wrapped up in it. It's written at a pace we rarely experience these days, where nothing happens for days, and I find that relaxing. P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote the Jeeves and Wooster books. Again, like Ruth Plumly Thompson, it's his wordplay and humor that I love. The character of Bertie Wooster is hilarious, and the relationship between he and Jeeves is priceless. Dr. Seuss, because he was a total genius and broke the fences so wide open that everyone else got out of jail, too. And finally, Michael Lewis, who is the best nonfiction writer working today, and maybe of all time. His ability to convey complicated ideas in simple terms without seeming to write down to the reader is possibly sorcery. He may have paid off the devil.
Book you've faked reading:
Good lord, so many. Anything by Hemingway or Tolstoy. I'm really not a heavy literature person. I love great writing and wonderful characters, and I'm probably missing out big time.
Book you're an evangelist for:
I get very excited about books, but a book I insisted everyone read recently was Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, who's also known as the Bloggess. I laughed so hard at this book I had to read it in chunks so as not to have a coronary. I was reading it on my Kindle in the dark, while sitting with my youngest child as she went to sleep, and she threw me out. I recommended it to EVERYONE who has sufficient bladder control.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I am such a sucker for a beautiful cover, and I feel like cover design just gets better and better every year. However, I never buy books just for the cover, but I will pick them up. Then the back cover copy needs to seal the deal. I like a pretty face as much as the next person, but if they aren't smart or funny, I'm not taking them home.
Book you hid from your parents:
I grew up in a very liberal house where censorship was a dirty word. However, I don't think my mother fully appreciated just how many Silhouette Special Edition Romance novels I had under my bed. They weren't hidden there--there just wasn't room for all of them on the shelves. So many heaving bosoms! So much masculine hardness!
Book that changed your life:
The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence. I was 14, and it was like the top of my head blew off. The world suddenly seemed enormous and ripe with possibilities. I had to read Dr. Seuss for days afterwards just to calm down. Another more recent book, if I can cheat and have two, is Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. It changed the way I look at the world completely. Everyone should read it.
Favorite line from a book:
"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you," from Pride and Prejudice. I'm a sucker for a good, romantic happy ending. Also, the crumbling of the icy facade of Mr. Darcy takes SOOO LOOOONG that the payoff is wonderful.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I don't have a good answer for this, because I will happily read and re-read books over and over, and enjoy them just as much every time. Maybe I have the memory of a goldfish, it's possible. And because there are so many books out there I get to discover new writers all the time. I read Agatha Christie as a child, for example, and didn't like her at all. Just before Christmas I picked one up again and was totally blown away. I spent the entire holidays ploughing through every one, and it was an awesome way to spend some time. No wonder she's the queen!! (I also tend to come late to most parties, if I show up at all.)