Joy For Beginners

By Erica Bauermeister
(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399157127, 288pp.)

Publication Date: June 9, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Hardcover

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the June 2011 Indie Next List
“Kate has conquered cancer, and now she has the goal to ride the white-water rapids in the Grand Canyon. During a celebration dinner, she gives each of her six friends an equally personal challenge. Bauermeister masterfully weaves the stories of the seven women together, allowing the reader to empathize with and root for each one as she jumps her own personal hurdle. A great selection for book clubs!”
-- Sam Droke-Dickinson, Aaron's Books, Lititz, PA


"Moving, touching, wonderfully written, inspiring to read." -Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate's recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate her new lease on life, she'll do the one thing that's always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventures.

Shimmering with warmth, wit, and insight, Joy for Beginners is a celebration of life: unexpected, lyrical, and deeply satisfying.

About the Author

Erica Bauermeister’s love of slow food and slow life was cemented by her two years living in northern Italy with her husband and children. She has taught literature and creative writing at the University of Washington and currently lives in Seattle with her family. The School of Essential Ingredients is her first novel.

Conversation Starters from


  1. “The second she touched the dough it seemed to latch on to her skin, clinging to her hands, greedy and thick, webbing her fingers. She tried to pull back, but the dough came with her, stretching off the counter, as unyielding as chewing gum. Clay was nothing like this.” Daria tells Henry that she works with clay because she likes to play in the mud. Later we learn that her mother loved to bake bread. Why has Daria embraced working with clay, yet maintained such a tenuous relationship with bread-baking? Aside from its associations with her mother, what is it about bread that makes Daria nervous?

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