Who doesn't know of and adore Zibby Owens? She is an author, podcaster, publisher, CEO, and mother of four. And a force of nature. And a great friend and supporter of anyone who writes, and anyone who reads.
Zibby is the founder of Zibby Owens Media, a privately-held media company designed to help busy people live their best lives by connecting to books and each other. The three divisions include Zibby Books, a publishing house for fiction and memoir, Zcast, a podcast network powered by Acast including Zibby’s award-winning podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, and Moms Don’t Have Time To, a new content and community site including Zibby’s Virtual Book Club, events, and the former Moms Don’t Have Time to Write.
She is a regular columnist for Good Morning America and a frequent guest on morning news shows recommending books.
Editor of two anthologies (Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids and Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology), a children’s book Princess Charming, and now a memoir Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature, Zibby loves to write. She regularly pens personal essays, starting with her first one in Seventeen magazine in 1992.
(Did you love Bookends? Email her about the book here.)
Bookends is her astonishing and moving memoir and it's racking up the raves.
Good Day LA made Bookends one of their "best summer reads."
Arianna Huffington called Zibby "one of the most be loved book influencers in America."
Town & Country named Bookends as one of its Best Summer Reads.
Bookends is so brave, so readable. What I loved the most about it was that I thought I sort of knew you, and I had this idea of you as this totally unflappable, always in control energizer, but you let us all see through the layers to the tender-hearted, grieving, shy (Zibby shy?!!! Zibby mute?!!!)) person who grew into herself, thanks to the help of books, friends, kids and husband. So I want to ask, how scary was it for you to write this book? Did it get less scary as you continued to write? And does it want you to write another memoir? (I hope so!)
It wasn’t scary at ALL. This is how I process everything in my life – and always have! I’ve been writing and rewriting parts of this book since 2003 when I graduated from business school and took a year off to write it. Little did I know how much life I needed to live before my book was complete. I was slightly terrified when the galley started going out, but the reception has been so warm and positive that I’m not worried anymore! (And thanks for the kind words about the book!!)
You write so eloquently about loss that I was weeping. Yet, loss seems to have made you more aware of how important it is to cherish those we love every moment we have them, because loss is always nipping at our heels. Can you talk a little bit about this, please?
Yes, like so many of us, I’ve been through a lot of grief and loss, especially in my twenties. Death isn’t an abstract concept for me. I think about it daily, like the true neurotic New Yorker I am. But I use it to motivate me. I work fast and hard to beat the clock. I view life now as a fight to get as much in as I can before the sands in the hourglass run out. Similarly I value loved ones in my life knowing that our time together may be finite.
You also write so honestly about the privilege you’ve had and your awareness of how it shaped you. But privileged or not, so many of your challenges, motherhood, work, writing, feel so universal. Would you agree?
Yes! I know how lucky I am to have been born into my family. I feel like I won the lottery and like to share the benefits whenever I can. But it doesn’t matter how lucky you are. Emotions and obstacles are the same. When my kids fight or one of them tantrums or gets sick or someone I love dies or a friend is in need or any of it, nothing can help.
Midlife and its discontents run through the book, yet I have the feeling that as you are getting older, you are doing more, risking more, being more. But in a recent essay, you wrote that sometimes this can be a problem, and you are now stopping a bit to recharge. All of this makes me want to ask you, where do you see yourself in your eighties? I cannot imagine you sitting on a rocker with Kyle watching the sea, unless you both are going to write and film a documentary, too!
Ohh, good idea! A documentary with Kyle. (Haha.) If I’m lucky enough to live into my eighties, I hope I’ll be surrounded by my four kids, that they’ll be in happy marriages, that I’ll be visiting my grandkids often, and hopefully spending a lot of time at our home high on a hill in the Pacific Palisades, watching the sun rise drinking coffee with Kyle. But I also hope to always be creating, thinking, writing, and reading. I hope I’ll have a stack of books that I plow through daily, that I’ll have written many books by then, that I’ve seen my community really grow, that I’ve watched authors I love have even more success, and that I’ve started many things that improve people’s lives. One thing I wish? Fewer emails!!
I loved the whole section of how you fell in love with Kyle, a tennis pro, and how while many expected you to be with someone high powered and connected, you realized that Kyle was the one who could unlock happiness for you. And what was most delightful, is both of you found what you were meant to do—he’s a successful film producer now, and you now have a life that not only helps so many, many others, but it helps you, too. How difficult was that transition from the life you’d thought you might have to the life you have now?
As in all transitions and periods of change in my life, it was tough – but it was all worth it.
I also loved how you threaded so many wonderful books throughout the narrative, detailing how they helped you, and in the process, showing how they might help others. Since you read EVERYTHING, I was wondering how hard it was to choose the books, and also do you reread certain books in certain times in your life, and then those books take on new meaning?
I rarely reread books but I have reread a few of my favorites and am shocked by how differently they land given where I am in life. It wasn’t that hard to choose the books but I left so many out and feel terrible about that.
What’s obsessing you now and why?
To be totally superficial, my Thrive Causemetics mascara is obsessing me right now. It comes off in the shower! No make-up remover needed! And it stays on for days and looks like I’ve had my lashes done. And yes, they’re a sponsor of my podcast, Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, but I seriously love it!!!! (Go to thrivecausemtics.com/books for 15% off.) And to be honest, I just leased a Volvo XC90 and am totally obsessed with that car. It took months to figure out what to get but when two of my best girlfriends recommended it, I got one. It’s perfect for our family – four kids!
What question didn’t I ask that I should have?
Maybe what I’m reading now? I just finished the most hysterical book I’ve read in my entire life. I laughed until I cried. Jenny Mollen’s I Like You Just the Way I Am. Hilarious.