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Elizabeth Berg

Born: 1948 in St. Paul, Minnesota
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Berg lives in Oak Park.

Biography: 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.

  • 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 Oprah's 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 Illinois Literary Heritage Award, Illinois Center for the Book, 2018; 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

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction; Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Dream when you're feeling blue :
ISBN: 0345487540 OCLC: 76167130

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.

Durable goods /
ISBN: 081296814X OCLC: 30633281

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.

Earth's the Right Place for Love: A Novel
ISBN: 0593446798 OCLC:

Random House 2023

Nola McCollum is the most desirable girl in Arthur’s class, and he is thrilled when they become friends. But Arthur wants far more than friendship. Unfortunately, Nola has a crush on the wrong Moses—Arthur’s older brother, Frank, who is busy pursuing his own love interest and avoiding the boys’ father, a war veteran with a drinking problem and a penchant for starting fights. When a sudden tragedy rocks the family’s world, Arthur struggles to come to terms with his grief. In the end, it is nature that helps him to understand how to go on, beyond loss, and create a life of forgiveness and empathy. But what can he do about Nola, who seems confused about what she wants in life, and only half aware of the one who loves her most?Full of unforgettable characters and written with Elizabeth Berg’s characteristic warmth, humor, and insight into people, Earth’s the Right Place for Love is about the power of kindness, character, and family, and how love can grow when you least expect it.

Escaping into the open :
ISBN: 0060929294 OCLC: 40675000

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.

Family traditions :
ISBN: 0895774569 OCLC: 26160092

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.

Home safe :
ISBN: 0345487559 OCLC: 454469506

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.

I'll be seeing you :
ISBN: 0593134672 OCLC: 1121422980

Joy school /
ISBN: 0345423097 OCLC: 35526215

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.

Make someone happy :
ISBN: 153056705X OCLC: 953734458

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

Never change /
ISBN: 0743411331 OCLC: 45634626

Pocket Books, New York : 2001.

A self-anointed spinster at fifty-one, Myra Lipinski is reasonably content with her quiet life, her dog, Frank, and her career as a visiting nurse. But everything changes when Chip Reardon, the golden boy she adored in high school, is assigned as her new patient. Choosing to forgo treatment for an incurable illness, Chip has returned to his New England hometown to spend what time he has left. Now, Myra and Chip find themselves engaged in a poignant redefinition of roles, and a complicated dance of memory, ambivalence, and longing.

ISBN: 0525509526 OCLC: 1084552920

Once upon a time, there was you :
ISBN: 1400068657 OCLC: 648922428

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.

Open house :
ISBN: 9781598872972 OCLC: 127239695

HighBridge Co., [Minneapolis, Minn.] : 2002.

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Elizabeth Berg's Once Upon a Time, There Was You.

In this superb novel by the beloved author of Talk Before Sleep, The Pull of the Moon, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along, a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart.

Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember�and reclaim�the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage.

Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.

Ordinary life :
ISBN: 0812968131 OCLC: 47216560

Random House, New York : ©2002.

In this superb collection of short stories, the bestselling author of Open House and Talk Before Sleep takes us into the times in women?s lives when memories and events cohere to create a sense of wholeness, understanding, and change. In Ordinary Life, Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a week, and no, she isn?t contemplating getting a divorce?she just needs some time to think, to take stock of her life, and she comes to a surprising conclusion. In Today?s Special, a woman recognizes the solace she finds in the simple, timeless fare and atmosphere of the local diner and, ultimately, the harmony within her own spirit that familiar comforts can evoke. In White Dwarf, the secrets of a marriage are revealed as a couple passes the time with a seemingly insignificant word-association game. And in Martin?s Letter to Nan, the unforgettable husband and wife from Berg?s novel The Pull of the Moon engage in a new correspondence in which a different aspect of their marriage is revealed. Elizabeth Berg?s fiction has been praised for its brilliant insights about the human condition (Detroit Free Press), and The Charlotte Observer has said that Berg captures the way women think as well as any writer.Those same qualities of wisdom and insight are everywhere present in Ordinary Life.

Range of motion /
ISBN: 042516876X OCLC: 31938586

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.

Say when /
ISBN: 0743411374 OCLC: 52291723

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.

Still happy + the book of Homer /
ISBN: 1974438805 OCLC: 1014124125

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

Talk before sleep :
ISBN: 0345491254 OCLC: 29549243

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.

Tapestry of fortunes :
ISBN: 0345533798 OCLC: 861672459

The art of mending :
ISBN: 034548648X OCLC: 53223751

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 Confession Club
ISBN: 1984855174 OCLC: 1088667887

Random House 2019

When Iris Winters and Maddy Harris are invited to the club, they find that it's just what each of them needs. Iris hasn't yet told anyone about the unlikely man who has captured her attention, and Maddy has come back home to escape a problem too big for her to confront.

The confession club :
ISBN: 9781984855176 OCLC: 1088667887

When Iris Winters and Maddy Harris are invited to the club, they find that it's just what each of them needs. Iris hasn't yet told anyone about the unlikely man who has captured her attention, and Maddy has come back home to escape a problem too big for her to confront.

The day I ate whatever I wanted :
ISBN: 1400065097 OCLC: 166255268

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.

The dream lover :
ISBN: 0812993152 OCLC: 895256498

"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"--

The handmaid and the carpenter
ISBN: 9780739349182 OCLC: 78582086

Books on Tape, [Santa Ana, Calif.] : 2006.

A beautiful novel based on the biblical Christmas story by beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg. The bestselling author of The Art of Mending and The Year of Pleasures, reimagines Mary, Joseph, their falling in love, and the events of the Christmas narrative in this absorbing novel about love, a couple's struggles, and their faith in each other. The handmaid and the carpenter is the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of their son Jesus.

The last time I saw you :
ISBN: 9780739377413 OCLC: 441947880

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.

The pull of the moon /
ISBN: 0425176487 OCLC: 33163020

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.

The story of Arthur Truluv :
ISBN: 9781524798710 OCLC: 966632666

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.

The year of pleasures :
ISBN: 9780812970999 OCLC: 65333944

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.

True to form /
ISBN: 0743411358 OCLC: 49840003

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.

Until the real thing comes along :
ISBN: 034543739X OCLC: 37109239

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.

We are all welcome here :
ISBN: 0812971000 OCLC: 123450134

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. Diana is trying in her own fashion to live a normal life. As a fourteen-year-old, she wants to make money for clothes and magazines, to slough off the authority of her mother and Peacie, to figure out the puzzle that is boys, and to escape the oppressiveness she sees everywhere in her small town. What she can never escape, however, is the way her life is markedly different from others . Nor can she escape her ongoing responsibility to assist in caring for her mother. Paige Dunn is attractive, charming, intelligent, and lively, but her needs are great--and relentless. As the summer unfolds, hate and adversity will visit this modest home. Despite the difficulties thrust upon them, each of the women will find her own path to independence, understanding, and peace. And Diana's mother, so mightily compromised, will end up giving her daughter an extraordinary gift few parents could match.

What we keep /
ISBN: 0345423291 OCLC: 37713044

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.