Sarah Jio is the internationally bestselling author of eight novels, including Blackberry Winter, Goodnight June and The Violets of March. Her latest novel, Always, centers on journalist Kailey Crain, who has a great job and a kind fiancé—the kind who takes her out to romantic meals at fancy restaurants. One night, after one such dinner, she hands her leftovers to a scrawny, bearded homeless man and is taken aback when their eyes meet. It’s her long-lost first love, Cade McAllister. When they dated ten years ago, everything felt right until one day when it all ended suddenly, devastating Kailey in the process. Now, as she spends time with her former beau, helping him pick up the pieces of his former life, she must decide who exactly she wants to be with.
Sarah Jio lives in Seattle with her three young boys. She shared photos of her writing space with Read It Forward and shared the books that have shaped her life and her career as a writer. Click on each white dot on the books’ spines below to read Sarah’s thoughts about each title and then pick up a copy of her brand new novel, Always.
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
I discovered Maeve Binchy when I was a teenager. After hard days of adolescent ups and downs, I loved curling up with one of her heartwarming stories—all set in and around Dublin. I vowed back then that if I ever became a published novelist, I’d try to create the same warm, cozy worlds and characters that Binchy did in Tara Road.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Perhaps one of the most iconic and beautiful written suspense stories of all time, this classic had a huge impact on the way I use suspense in my novels. I’d describe Rebecca as “elegantly dark,” which is always my goal when dealing with the darker sides to my stories.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
I have no shame about declaring my love for Bridget Jones. The love for this character is REAL! Helen Fielding is a genius, as far as I’m concerned. Her novels, especially Bridget Jones’s Diary, have influenced the way I think about my female characters and they will always be beloved favorites of mine.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Nora is, perhaps, my favorite storyteller of all time. Her books, like Heartburn, and her movies—I just love the way she sees the world, and the hilarious, deeply felt ways she writes. After my first novel, The Violets of March, was published, I mailed Nora a copy. Her assistant wrote me to say Nora had received it and thanked me. That was a special memory for me, especially now that Nora has passed.
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Sarah’s Key was one of the few books that hit me so intensely that I actually had to set it down for a few days to recover from its emotional pull on my heart. It actually inspired some of the deep emotions of motherhood and loss in my third novel, Blackberry Winter.
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors of all time. How one woman can write so succinctly, so intelligently, so hilariously and with so much vulnerability and honesty, I do not know. She’s a constant inspiration, and one of the reasons I hope to write non-fiction someday. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith is one of my favorites.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife grabbed me from page one and I still think about it! I don’t know that I ate or got anything done in my life when I was devouring this novel. I was so sad when it was over—as in, mournfully depressed (serious book hangover). I recommended it to everyone I knew, and still believe that it is one of the most successful examples of an author’s use of magical realism. The whole thing just felt REAL.
Encore Provence: New Adecentures in the South of France by Peter Mayle
I’m a sucker for any memoir or travelogue set in France. Peter Mayle has been a lifelong fave. I recommend reading Encore Provence with a nice glass of burgundy.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
I’ve always had a thing for Hemingway, and what’s not to love about this slice of life from 1920s Paris? It was such a dreamy read. Side note: I was lucky enough to visit the author’s Key West home, and I have a future goal of hitting all of his old Parisian haunts next time I’m there.
Author Photo: © Nina Subin; Featured image: Courtesy of Sarah Jio