Local Author Reading List: Bethany Hegedus of The Writing Barn

Bethany Hegedus Photo credit: Sam Bond

It’s hard enough for us parents to find time to read, let alone to decide what to read. Head to the library and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the stacks upon stacks of interesting-sounding titles (who can blame us for judging a book by its cover?). Just keeping up with book lists can seem like a chore. That’s why we here at LiveMom are introducing you to local authors, who will be giving you the skinny on what’s on their reading lists…because who better than a writer to turn you on to new and interesting books?!

When I was tapped to write my first post, I knew exactly who would give us some great recommendations: Bethany Hedegus, the owner and Creative Director of The Writing Barn, which is a writing retreat, workshop and event space right here in Austin. Bethany’s books include Truth with a Capital T and Between Us Baxters. Both novels were named to the Bank Street Books Best Books, with Between Us Baxters garnering a star for outstanding recognition. You might have heard of her debut picture book, Grandfather Gandhi, co-authored with Arun Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, and illustrated by Evan Turk which received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus. Grandfather Gandhi  has been named to the Texas Bluebonnet Master List for 2014-2015.

Bethany Hegedus Photo credit: Sam Bond
Bethany Hegedus
Photo credit: Sam Bond

Bethany was kind enough to not only recommend five books for us to add to our queue, but also to give us some ideas for holiday gifts for the book lovers on our list. You rock, Bethany!

Book recommendations:


  1. Friendswood: A Novel by Rene Steinke—I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of Friendswood when Rene Steinke taught at The Writing Barn, a workshop and retreat center, I run right here in Austin. A Texan herself, Steinke creates her fictional Friendswood on the suburb outside Houston of the same name. Dealing with large scale environmental issues coupled with and the intricacies and explosions of family life, make this one a must read.

True Secret of Writing

  1. The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language by Natalie Goldberg—I’ve long been a fan of Goldberg’s, since the era where every writer read Writing Down the Bones, but in The True Secret Natalie Goldberg reveals the format for her popular Sit, Walk, Write Workshops and she does so in a way that allows for each individual writer and group who will assemble to get the most out of her thirty-five years of teaching experience. Coupled with intention, observation, meditation, and the committed practice of taking to the page, this craft book is an essential to any reader/writer library.

Small Victories

  1. Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott—this one hits the shelves today so I haven’t read it yet but as a devotee of Lamott’s essays, this one will be on The Writing Barn shelves soon. Lamott never fails to make me feel understood—the messy “scooch- scooch- stall” of life with all its pain and possibility. Recently, I read an interview with Lamott about this book in Salon.com and Anne’s (yes, we can use her first name—especially since we all feel she is our wise yet neurotic friend next door) going to take some time off. She’s written and toured with a number of new books over the last few years and said, “Time to fill back up. It would be good for me in every way to lie fallow.” And while Anne fills back up, I will be filling up—reading her latest and laughing and sighing and crying in recognition of my own blessed being, as I connect with myself, through her work and words.

A Jab of Urgency

  1. A Jab of Deep Urgency by E. Kirstin Anderson—For a change of pace, I like to explore the chapbook scene and one of my faves, is the recently released A Jab of Deep Urgency, a collection of 30 poems crafted during Found Poetry Review’s Pulitzer Remix Project in 2013. Anderson crafted her collection from master text, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, using the erasure method (also known as black out of whiteout) on pages of the original text. I fell into a love for blackout poems reading Austin Kleon’s Newspaper Blackout and see the form taking hold and growing. It’s even hit the kid lit shelves in K. A. Holt’s fabulous new verse novel Rhyme Schemer.

AdvertisementSignature of All Things

  1. The Signature of All Things: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert—We all may know Eat, Pray, Love but have we all read The Signature of All Things? I was a latecomer to Gilbert’s fiction and I wish I had been one of the first to discover her well-researched and captivating fictional voice is as spot-on as her memoir voice. Having heard Gilbert speak recently, she revealed she writes memoir when in pain and fiction when content—I for one hope the contentment she has found in her own journey of self-discovery holds. More fiction, please. (And, I hear a creativity craft book is in the works so perhaps what I’m really saying is More, Liz, More.)

Gifts for the Book-Loving Mama

Whether it’s a gift you buy for yourself, for a friend, or for wish list you hand off to your co-parenting partner, The Writing Barn has lots of great gifts this holiday season and into the New Year.

Gifts for Yourself:

December 2nd: We have a Create and Craft Your Ideal Holiday with Austin Mama, Bernadette Noll. With all of the hustle and bustle that comes with the season, Bernadette of Slow Family Living, will help you create and craft a unique holiday designed around your families wants and needs—not the crazed-commercial-keep-up-with-the-Jones-variety.

December 9th: From Garbage to Glamorous, Giving Unwanted Books New Life with Stephanie Pellegrin. In this class you will take the tattered pages of well used and well loved used books and turn them into festive art for the holiday season. Learn how to make book wreaths and a book tree in this fun and festive evening class.

Gifts for You and a Friend:

Spend a weekend or mid-week get away right here in Austin with a Write-Away Stay at The Cabin, The Book House, or The Writing Barn. The family won’t be far—but they won’t be right outside your door. Sink into a comfy chair, an outdoor hammock, to read, write or daydream. In the evening, crack open a bottle of wine, and relax around the fire pit

Looking for more ideas on what to read? Take a look at our past Reading Mama Recommendations here.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Cate-Berry.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Cate Berry is a writer, performer, songwriter, teacher and mom of two. Her original show, Dish, premiered at the Long Center in April, 2014. She splits her time between the laundry room and the kitchen.[/author_info] [/author]


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Catherine Prystup
About Catherine Prystup 2157 Articles
Catherine Prystup founded LiveMom.com out of a desire to build a better community for Austin-area moms. She has three children, ages seventeen, eight and three years old.

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