Episode 163: Reading Matters — Interview with Nancy Pearl

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds!

Today I am so delighted to have Nancy Pearl on the show!

Nancy is a book world legend. From her more than three decades of experience as a librarian and bookseller, to her worldwide speaking engagements on the importance of reading, she has become the go-to person for all things literary.

Now with the publication of her debut novel, George and Lizzie, Nancy places her own words onto the fiction bookshelf.

Listen in as we discuss how being a good reader makes you a good writer, and the sensation of moving from the person who recommends books to being the author of a book that is recommended.

In this episode Nancy and I discuss:

  • How to nudge yourself to read outside your comfort zone, and why doing so can help your writing.
  • The difference between reading for pleasure and reading with purpose and how to shift gears between the two.
  • How to know when to quit on a book, and why it aids you when you do.
  • Letting your characters tell their story and drive your novel to the correct conclusion.
  • The difference between ideas in your head and what actually gets written on the page, and why this distinction is so important.

Plus, Nancy’s #1 tip for writers.

About Nancy Pearl

Nancy Pearl spent a good portion of her childhood at the Parkman Branch Library in Detroit, Michigan. When she was 10 years old, she decided to become a librarian. After getting her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan in 1967, she worked in libraries in Detroit, Tulsa, and Seattle.

In 1998, as director of the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library, she originated “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book,” which became the basis for “One City, One Book” programs throughout the world.

She has worked as a librarian and a bookseller for more than three decades, she is regularly featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and appears weekly on Seattle Public Radio. She also hosts a monthly television show, Book Lust with Nancy Pearl and has interviewed authors like  E. L. Doctorow, Elizabeth Strout, John Irving, Colson Whitehead, and Terry Pratchett.
Nancy is also a speaker, appearing at library conferences, and speaking to literacy organizations and community groups throughout the world about the pleasure—and importance—of reading She also comments on books regularly on KUOW FM in Seattle, as well as KWGS in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Wisconsin Public Radio.

Among her many honors and awards are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal, and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. She lives in Seattle with her husband Joe and in addition to her many honors and awards, she was the model for the best-selling Librarian Action Figure.

Her best-selling Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason (Sasquatch Books) came out in 2003, followed by three other titles in the series. Her first novel, George & Lizzie, was published in September, 2017, by Touchstone Books.

To connect with Nancy check out her website at https://www.nancypearl.com/


George and Lizzie

George and Lizzie Goldrosen have radically different understandings of what love and marriage should be. George grew up in a warm and loving family in Tulsa, Oklahoma while Lizzie was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan as the only child of two famous psychologists, who viewed her more as an in-house experiment than a daughter to love. Despite their differences, George and Lizzie find themselves drawn to one another: Lizzie is drawn to George for his easy-going nature and sense of humor (plus she loves his family) and George is drawn to Lizzie because he’s convinced he can make her happy.

The pair meet during a night out bowling not far from the campus of the University of Michigan where Lizzie is an undergraduate majoring in English and George, in graduate school, is studying to be a dentist. Their encounter does not go smoothly (Lizzie ruins George’s almost best game ever), and it sets the stage for their marriage. Over the course of a decade together, George is happy; Lizzie remains…unfulfilled. When a shameful secret from Lizzie’s past resurfaces (spoiler alert: she slept with all of the starters on her high school football team) and George discovers that Lizzie may still be in love with an old college boyfriend, she is forced to face her fears and accept the true nature of the relationship she and George have built.

Written by the tastemaker among readers and library groups, GEORGE & LIZZIE is peppered with books and pays homage to many great writers and poets—Lizzie marks the passage of time by the novels she reads—and readers may discover their favorite books between the pages. With pitch-perfect prose and compassion and humor to spare, GEORGE & LIZZIE is an intimate tale of new and past loves, the scars of childhood and adulthood, and an imperfect and unlikely marriage at its defining moments.



If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase DIY MFA makes a small commission at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 163

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