Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Elizabeth Berg  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1948 in St. Paul, Minnesota

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Illinois Connection

Berg lives in Oak Park.

Biographical and Professional Information

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels as well as two works of nonfiction. She studied English at the University of Minnesota, and later ended up as a nurse. Her debut novel was published in 1993, and today she is a bestselling author. Her three novels ''Durable Goods'', ''Joy School'', and ''True to Form'' are a trilogy about the 12-year-old Katie Nash and are, in part, based on Berg's own experience as a daughter born into a military family.Berg has received several literary awards and nominations. Her writing has been translated into 27 languages and three of her novels have been turned into television movies. She is the founder of ''Writing Matters'', a quality reading series dedicated to serving author, audience, and community. She teaches one-day writing workshops and is a popular speaker at venues around the country.

Published Works

  • Family Traditions: Celebrations for Holidays and Everyday, Readers Digest, 1992
  • Durable Goods, Random House, 1993
  • Talk Before Sleep, Random House, 1994
  • Range of Motion, Random House, 1995
  • The Pull of the Moon, Random House, 1996
  • Joy School, Random House, 1997
  • What We Keep, Random House, 1998
  • Until the Real Thing Comes Along, Random House, 1999
  • Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True, Harper Perennial, 2000
  • Open House, Random House, 2000
  • Never Change, Atria Books, 2001
  • Ordinary Life: Stories, Ballantine Books, 2001
  • True to Form, Atria Books, 2002
  • Say When, Atria Books, 2003
  • The Art of Mending, Random House, 2004
  • The Year of Pleasures, Random House, 2005
  • The Handmaid and the Carpenter, Random House, 2006
  • We Are all Welcome Here, Random House, 2006
  • Dream When You're Feeling Blue, Random House, 2007
  • The Day that I Ate Whatever I Wanted, Random House, 2008
  • Home Safe, Ballantine, 2009
  • The Last Time I Saw You: A Novel, Random House, 2010
  • Once Upon a Time, There Was You, Random House, 2011
  • Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True, Random House, 2012
  • Tapestry of Fortunes, Random House, 2013
  • The Dream Lover, Random House, 2015
  • Make Someone Happy, CreateSpace, 2016
  • Still Happy: Includes The Book of Homer, Create Space 2017
  • The Story of Arthur Truluv, Random House, 2017

Selected Titles At Your Library

Family traditions :
ISBN: 0895774569. OCLC Number:

Reader's Digest Association,. Pleasantville, N.Y. :. ©1992.

Suggestions for today's busy families of activities and rituals that can be used to start family traditions.

Durable goods /
ISBN: 081296814X. OCLC Number:

Avon Books,. New York :. 1994, ©1993.

Following her mother's death, Katie, a young girl living on an army base, waits for Dickie Mack to fall in love with her and struggles to understand her distant, violent father.

Talk before sleep :
ISBN: 0345491254. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©1994.

The gripping story of a woman dying from cancer. The narrator is Ann Stanley, an unhappily married nurse. All the more reason for her to admire Ruth Thomas who leaves her husband, even though it means leaving her son, too. A bond develops between the two and when Ruth is struck with cancer Ann helps her die, the process described in minute detail. By the author of Durable Goods.

Range of motion /
ISBN: 042516876X. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. 1995.

After a freak accident--ice fell on him as he walked in the street--a man lies in a coma in a hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lainey, his wife, is the only one who believes he will recover. She visits him every day, bringing family objects and talking of home, becoming ever more aware of the wonder and richness of daily life.

The pull of the moon /
ISBN: 0425176487. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©1996.

Shortly after she turns 50, a woman runs away to find herself. As she drives across the country following the moon, Nan keeps a journal and writes letters, apprising her husband and her daughter of her progress, though not of her romance.

Joy school /
ISBN: 0345423097. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©1997.

The story of first love featuring Katie, 13. When her father, a widowed army colonel, moves to another town, Katie meets Jimmy, 23, a garage attendant, and she falls in love with him. Unfortunately Jimmy is married and a father, and though he likes Katie very much he is not about to leave his family. A tale of platonic love, narrated by Katie. By the author of The Pull of the Moon.

What we keep /
ISBN: 0345423291. OCLC Number:

. .

In San Francisco, two sisters visit their mother who walked out on the family 30 years earlier to devote herself to art. Now she has cancer and may die. One of the sisters is only doing it to please the other.

Until the real thing comes along :
ISBN: 034543739X. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©1999.

A 36-year-old Massachusetts woman, desperate for a baby, asks a gay friend to make her pregnant. He obliges and they live together, but his attraction to men makes her realize her future is as a single mother.

Escaping into the open :
ISBN: 0060929294. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins,. New York :. ©1999.

The author offers inspirational advice, helpful tips, and personal stories on how to write straight from the heart, how to unleash creativity, and how to deal with rejection.

Open house /
ISBN: 0099461269. OCLC Number:

Arrow,. London :. 2003.

Never change /
ISBN: 0743411331. OCLC Number:

Pocket Books,. New York :. 2001.

Myra Lipinsky, a 51-year old visiting nurse, has been content to be a self-appointed spinster--until a man she adored in high school is struck by an incurable illness and returns to New England to spend what time he has left.

Ordinary life :
ISBN: 0812968131. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©2002.

A collection of short stories focusing on those moments in women's lives that provide opportunity for reflection.

True to form /
ISBN: 0743411358. OCLC Number:

Atria Books,. New York :. ©2002.

In this novel ... author Elizabeth Berg revisits the heroine she so lovingly brought to life in Durable Goods and Joy School. It is set in 1961, and thirteen-year-old Katie is facing a summer full of conflict. First, instead of letting her find her own work for the season, Katie's father has arranged for two less-than-ideal baby-sitting jobs -- one for the rambunctious Wexler boys and another for Mrs. Randolph, a kind but elderly, bed-ridden neighbor. To make matters worse, Katie has been forcibly inducted into the "loser" Girl Scout troop organized by her only friend Cynthia's controlling and clueless mother. A much-anticipated visit to her former home in Texas and ex-best friend Cherylanne proves disappointing. And then comes an act of betrayal that leaves Katie questioning her views on friendship, on her ability not to take those she loves for granted, and, most important, on herself. "One thing to say about you, Katie, is that you are true. You should be proud of it, and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise," Cherylanne insists. But whether or not Katie will ever feel true to herself remains to be seen. This is a delicately told tale of a young girl wise beyond her years, whose growing pains finally awaken her to the clarity of forgiveness and a greater understanding of the complicated world around her. Full of the anguish and the joys of adolescence in a much more innocent time, the novel induces the reader to remember and reflect on their own moments of discovery and self-definition.

Say when /
ISBN: 0743411374. OCLC Number:

Atria Books,. New York :. ©2003.

Griffin is a happy man. Settled comfortably in a Chicago suburb, he adores his eight-year-old daughter, Zoe, and his wife, Ellen--shy, bookish Ellen, who is as dependable as she is dependent on him for his stability and his talent for gently controlling the world they inhabit. But when he wakes one morning to hear of his wife's love affair with another man and her request for a divorce, Griffin's view of life is irrevocably altered. Overnight he goes from being Ellen's husband to being her roommate, from a lover to a man denied passion and companionship. Now he must either move on for fight for his marriage, forgive his wife or condemn her for her betrayal, deny or face up to his part in the sudden undoing of his seemingly perfect life.

The art of mending :
ISBN: 034548648X. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©2004.

Returning home for the annual family reunion, Laura Bartone and her brother, Steve, are stunned by their sister, Caroline, and her allegations of shocking behavior on the part of their mother, and are forced to come to terms with the truth and lies within their family, as well as painful cycle of denial, blame, repression, and forgiveness.

The year of pleasures :
ISBN: 0812970993. OCLC Number:

. .

Betta Nolan moves to a small town after the death of her husband to try to begin anew. Pursuing a dream of a different kind of life, she is determined to find pleasure in her simply daily routines. Among those who help her in both expected and unexpected ways are the ten-year-old boy next door, three wild women friends from her college days, a twenty-year-old who is struggling to find his place in the world, and a handsome man who is ready for love.

The handmaid and the carpenter :
ISBN: 0345505913. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©2006.

A new rendition of the Christmas story follows a young couple, Mary and Joseph, who are planning to be married, only to be confronted by an unexpected pregnancy that for Mary is a miracle and for Joseph, a challenge to his faith in his wife and in God.

We are all welcome here :
ISBN: 0812971000. OCLC Number:

Ballantine,. New York :. ©2007.

It is the summer of 1964. In Tupelo, Mississippi, the town of Elvis's birth, tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently--and violently--across the state. But in Paige Dunn's small, ramshackle house, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the effects of the polio she contracted during her last month of pregnancy, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit--with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.

Dream when you're feeling blue :
ISBN: 0345487540. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. 2007.

After sending their men off to fight in the war, sisters Kitty and Louise Heaney join their flirtatious younger sister, Tish, in writing letters to servicemen overseas.

The day I ate whatever I wanted :
ISBN: 1400065097. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©2008.

A compelling anthology of short fiction, including eleven never-before-published pieces, explores the lives of women breaking free of the convention that controls their lives, in a collection that includes "Returns and Exchanges," "Over the Hill and Into the Woods," and the title story, about a woman who goes on a happiness binge after ditching Weight Watchers.

Home safe :
ISBN: 0345487559. OCLC Number:

Ballantine Trade Paperbacks,. New York :. 2009.

Recently widowed Helen Ames and her twenty-seven-year-old daughter Tessa discover that money has disappeared in several big withdrawals from the Ames' retirement savings. What Helen's husband did with all their money turns out to be provocative, revelatory--and leads Helen and her daughter to embark on new adventures, and change.

The last time I saw you :
ISBN: 1400068649. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©2010.

To each of the men and women in "The last time I saw you", this reunion means something different. A last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.

Once upon a time, there was you :
ISBN: 1400068657. OCLC Number:

Random House,. New York :. ©2011.

Sharing nothing in common except their 16-year-old daughter, divorced parents John and Irene reconnect in the wake of a devastating tragedy and discover things about each other that they had not revealed during their marriage.

Escaping into the open :
ISBN: 0062200445. OCLC Number:

Harper Perennial,. New York :. 2012.

The author offers inspirational advice, helpful tips, and personal stories on how to write straight from the heart, how to unleash creativity, and how to deal with rejection.

Tapestry of fortunes :
ISBN: 0345533798. OCLC Number:

. .

"Cecilia Ross is looking for a change. She has decided to take time off from her job as a successful motivational speaker and sell her home. She moves in to a beautiful old house in St. Paul, Minnesota, complete with a big front porch, a wild garden, a chef's kitchen--and three roommates. The four women are different ages, but all are feeling restless, and want to take a roadtrip to find again the people and things they miss. One woman wants to connect with a daughter she gave away at birth; another wants to visit her long-absent ex-husband; a third woman, a professional chef, is seeking new inspiration from the restaurants along the way. And Cecilia is looking for Dennis Halsinger, the man she never got over, who recently sent her a postcard out of the blue. This novel is classic Elizabeth Berg--a portrait of how women grow through the relationships that define them, and a testament to the power of female friendship"--

The dream lover :
ISBN: 0812993152. OCLC Number:

. .

"George Sand was a 19th century French novelist known not only for her novels but even more for her scandalous behavior. After leaving her estranged husband, Sand moved to Paris where she wrote, wore men's clothing, smoked cigars, and had love affairs with famous men and an actress named Marie. In an era of incredible artistic talent, Sand was the most famous female writer of her time. Her lovers and friends included Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugene Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more. In a major departure, Elizabeth Berg has created a gorgeous novel about the life of George Sand, written in luminous prose, with exquisite insight into the heart and mind of a woman who was considered the most passionate and gifted genius of her time"--

Make someone happy :
ISBN: 153056705X. OCLC Number:

. .

A collection of blog and Facebook postings, written by, selected and sequenced for this publication by author Elizabeth Berg.

Still happy + the book of Homer /
ISBN: 1974438805. OCLC Number:

. .

Still Happy is Elizabeth's second collection of Facebook posts. Her first, Make Someone Happy, did indeed make many people happy, and so, due to popular demand, she has put together a second volume, which includes "The Book of Homer," a tribute to her beloved dog who recently died. Still Happy, like Make Someone Happy, exemplifies Berg's gift, as the Boston Globe said, "in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday."

The story of Arthur Truluv :
ISBN: 1400069904. OCLC Number:

. .

"For the past six months, Arthur Moses's days have looked the same: He tends to his rose garden and to Gordon, his cat, then rides the bus to the cemetery to visit his beloved late wife for lunch. The last thing Arthur would imagine is for one unlikely encounter to utterly transform his life. Eighteen-year-old Maddy Harris is an introspective girl who visits the cemetery to escape the other kids at school. One afternoon she joins Arthur--a gesture that begins a surprising friendship between two lonely souls. Moved by Arthur's kindness and devotion, Maddy gives him the nickname "Truluv." As Arthur's neighbor Lucille moves into their orbit, the unlikely trio band together and, through heartache and hardships, help one another rediscover their own potential to start anew. Wonderfully written and full of profound observations about life, The Story of Arthur Truluv is a beautiful and moving novel of compassion in the face of loss, of the small acts that turn friends into family, and of the possibilities to achieve happiness at any age."--Dust jacket flap.


Durable Goods

  • Best Book of the Year

    , American Library Association

    Joy School

  • Best Book of the Year

    , American Library Association

    Talk Before Sleep

  • Illumminator Award, AMC Cancer Research Center
  • Shortlisted, ABBY Award, 1996
  • Open House

  • Oprahs Book Club Selection, 2000
  • The Art of Mending

  • "One Book", South Dakota
  • National Geographic Traveler article on a cooking school in Positano, Italy

  • North American Travel Journalists Association Award
  • The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Other Small Acts of Liberation

  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2015

    Body of Work

  • New England Booksellers Award

    for fiction, 1997

  • Literary Light, Boston Public Library
  • Honored by the Chicago Public Library
  • Honored at the 2004 Illinois Author Book Fair sponsored by the Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois.

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    , contact For speaking requests, contact Miriam Feuerle Lyceum Agency 915 SE 35th Ave. # 205 Portland, OR 97214 503-577-6361 For publicity inquiries, please email Henley For other inquiries, use the following address Elizabeth Berg Author Mail c/o Kate Medina 11th floor Editorial Random House 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019