Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Meet the Author! Sarah Dunn, author of SECRETS TO HAPPINESS

Sarah Dunn was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She went to the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English and graduated magna cum laude. After college, she wrote a humor column for the Philadelphia City Paper while waiting tables (poorly) at TGI Fridays. When she was 24, she published The Official Slacker Handbook, and was subsequently lured out to Hollywood to write for Murphy Brown, Spin City and Veronica’s Closet. She left TV to work on her first novel, The Big Love, which came out in 2004 and has been translated into 23 languages. She is currently writing a television pilot for NBC called George & Hilly, and her long-awaited second novel, Secrets to Happiness, comes out this spring. She is married to Peter Stevenson, the executive editor of The New York Observer, and they have a chunky delicious new baby boy named Harry.

Sarah Dunn’s Books for Bed Rest and Rainy Afternoons

After I finished Secrets to Happiness, I was placed on strict bed rest for four months because of a high-risk pregnancy, and I read a lot. I mean, a lot. About two weeks before I had my baby, I remember waking up one morning and thinking: I’m done. I was done reading. I had finally done it, something I’d never in my life managed to do – read until I didn’t want to read any more. And I figured if having a baby meant I wouldn’t be able to finish another book for the next two years, well, that would be just fine with me.

I was always emailing friends and asking for book suggestions, and following different leads got me into territory I might not go to otherwise (The Ruins, for one, I would never have picked up on my own, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down). Books for bed rest are sort of like airplane books, in that you need to be able to stick with them for hours and hours on end, and it helps if you wake up in the morning thinking, “I’m stuck here on the couch again, I’ve got heartburn and I’m having contractions and The View is a repeat, but at least I get to spend my day deep inside that book!”

  • Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. A page-turning, atmospheric mystery set in Sweden.
  • Suite Française, by Irene Nemirovsky. I didn’t start this one until the fourth friend recommended it. Beautifully written and moving.
  • The Ruins, by Scott Smith. Gripping is the word I’m looking for. It’s possible I loved this because I read it when there was something growing inside of me, but give it a try!
  • The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy. You can read this, or you can Netflix the BBC series and watch it. I did both.
  • A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople, by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Go back in time, across Europe, on foot.
  • The Beach, by Alex Garland. Creepy and good.
  • What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, by Zoe Heller. A voice you can get lost inside.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. A completely charming, cozy treat.
  • Devices and Desires, by P.D. James. Even if you don’t like mysteries, you’ll probably like this book.
  • The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory. I don’t read historical fiction, I don’t care much about queens and kings, but I couldn’t stop reading this one.
  • The Ripley Novels, by Patricia Highsmith. Start with The Talented Mr. Ripley and if you enjoy it, you’ve got four more.
  • The Smoking Diaries, by Simon Gray. An English playwright’s journals. Funny and smart and full of personality.

Check back later today for my review of Sarah Dunn's Secrets to Happiness.

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Meet the Author! Sarah Dunn, author of SECRETS TO HAPPINESS + TIME