This conversation will help make your children (and you, too) better writers. Last time Jack Gantos was on Wavemaker Conversations, he shared his unforgettable journey to a terrifying prison sentence in a federal penitentiary and then to a prolific writing career. Now, with his new book, Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories, his goal is to help young writers who find the blank page terrifying. The book is written for 3rd grade and up. That includes all of us. All you need to begin is a blank journal, 15 minutes a day, and the willingness to “dump” some lines on a page. It’s that easy to start. The structure will come. How? Allow this Newbery Award-winning master raconteur to be your guide. And make sure to stick around for the end – when his mom realized he was hanging out with the wrong kids after discovering chicken-wire-shaped burn marks on the seat of his white underwear.

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Author Will Schwalbe is one of the funniest serious readers you’ll ever hear.  In our conversation, before a packed house at The Nantucket Book Festival, Will and I talk about his latest work, Books for Living, in which he treats us to a tour of books we might love to read – but may have missed – and shares his perspective-changing takeaways for how to live a more meaningful life.  Imagine: the hero Odysseus taught Schwalbe about the importance of mediocrity, exemplified by his story of getting a C on a high school paper and the unusually clever response from his teacher when Will objected; and the book Wonder taught him about how to increase his kindness quotient.  Schwalbe also shares his unique insight on resilience, based on his conversations about books with his mother when she was dying of cancer, which led to his NY Times Bestseller The End of Your Life Book Club.  He recommends a book that made it impossible for him to feel sorry for himself when he was at his worst, and explains why he’s “the last gay man in America who does not want children.”  Finally, after touring the country, he has a special message about why the “tribe of readers” may help heal the divisions in our nation.

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When Ruth Reichl became the restaurant critic for The New York Times, she learned there was a bounty on her – $1,000 for any worker who recognized this make-or-break critic when she sat down to eat.  Reichl shares the backstory of her elaborate, yet necessary, disguise; her courageous first review of how New York’s most heralded restaurant treated her when they didn’t have a clue who she was; and what changed once they realized.  Reichl also explores the connection between food and social justice, and how the act of cooking saved her (and could benefit us all) when she was at her lowest point in life.  Plus the moving story of how her mother learned to live a meaningful life at age 80.  The former Critic in Disguise engages in a thoroughly transparent conversation with Michael before a large audience at The Nantucket Book Festival.

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