Sarah Jio is the author of the novels The Violets of March, a Library Journal Best Book of 2011; The Bungalow; and Blackberry Winter, just published by Plume. Her fourth novel, The Last Camellia, will be published in May 2013, with two more novels coming from Plume in the future. Jio is a frequent contributor to Real Simple, Glamour, Redbook and others magazines, and for the past four years she has been the health writer for Glamour.com. She lives in Seattle with her husband and their three young boys.
On your nightstand now:
I'm reading The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman and loving it. I'm also having a Laura Ingalls moment, re-reading The Long Winter, and having fun dreaming up kitchen garden possibilities for my family's new Seattle backyard thanks to The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan.
Favorite book when you were a child:
My fourth grade teacher, Mr. Raymond at Brownsville Elementary in Silverdale, Wash., was the person who brought literature to life for me. I'll never forget listening to him read Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach after recess each day that fall. It was a magical story then, just as it is now. I can say the same for the Anne of Green Gables books, as well as the Babysitter's Club and Nancy Drew series.
Book you've faked reading:
I'll plead the Fifth here, but will make another confession: I have three little boys under the age of 6, and after long days, I have been known to, um, abbreviate (aka, edit heavily) bedtime stories. With apologies to the authors, I have a knack for whittling a long paragraph into two succinct sentences. And, for the record, I believe that Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish was written as a form of parental torture.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Rebecca by the great Daphne Du Maurier! Somehow I managed to live 33 years without picking up this gripping classic. I couldn't put it down. Upon hearing I was thinking of reading Rebecca, my editor at Plume, Denise Roy, told me, "You are in for a treat." Indeed I was, and now I tell everyone who hasn't read it to pick it up stat.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea. While I'm a sucker for any book with "winter" in the title, hence my own Blackberry Winter (I love a good snowstorm with plenty of hot cocoa), there was something equally haunting and arresting about this beautifully designed cover.
Book that changed your life:
The Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack. I interviewed this baby sleep-coaching duo (who've worked with the offspring of Ben Stiller and a long list of Hollywood moms and dads) for a magazine article when I was in the throes of new-parent exhaustion with a newborn who preferred staying up all night crying to sleeping. This fabulous book helped me through a very difficult time and gave me the skills to tackle my baby's sleep challenges. I now tuck this book into every baby shower gift for friends.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Maeve Binchy's Tara Road. I adore all of Maeve Binchy's work, but there was something about this story that was so comforting, and so real. I read the book in high school, and I recall feeling as if I was living this story right alongside the characters. I've actually decided to re-read all of Maeve Binchy's early works this year, in light of her recent passing.