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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  13,667 Ratings  ·  2,246 Reviews
In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead—and celebrating it all—as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.
As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindl
Hardcover, 182 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Random House
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Nov 26, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it
Anna Quindlen once worked as a columnist for the New York Times and has authored many novels including bestseller Black and Blue. In Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Quindlen offers her readers a roadmap for growing older while still enjoying life. An informative and thought provoking while at times humorous memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake invites us into Quindlen's life and allows us to feel comfortable there.

Born in 1953 during the baby boom, Anna Quindlen is the oldest of five childr
Aug 26, 2012 Skostal rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-group
I was a big fan of Quindlen's in the 1980s. Her NYT columns were among the first to chronicle, in real time, what is was like for working mothers struggling to balance it all, especially in male-dominated fields. She struck innumerable chords, and made our individual struggles, whether we had children yet or not, seem, if not noble, than at least normal. She was like a great travel writer, telling me about country I would someday visit.
Fast-forward 30 years, however, and Quindlen's work, while s
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
At age 60, Anna Quindlen has already had plenty of candles and birthday cake, but she wants more. A lot more. Her own mother died in her early 40s, when Anna was just nineteen. That early loss has made her grateful for every additional year she gets that her mother was denied.

Anna's gratitude is the common ingredient that ties together these ruminations of an aging feminist baby boomer. She seems amazed, even somewhat astonished, at how fortunate she has been. She has reached an age where she c
Dec 31, 2016 Britany rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, non-fiction
For some reason, in my head I constantly confuse Anne Tyler and Anna Quindlen- no idea why. While I was reading this novel, I kept thinking I was reading about Anne Tyler's life. This book is more like vignettes into Anna Quindlen's life. I was immediately taken with the writing- every sentence, paragraph, and page was filled to the brim with words that brought her story to life for me. She starts out the book strong and projecting equal opportunity for those taking the road less traveled. I fou ...more
What is it like to be a Mother, a woman, a working woman, a feminist, a baby boomer...or someone who's aging, who is at the end of their life with little options? What is faith, motherhood, marriage, work, being a woman, friendship, love, life, or God forbid, death? What in our life are absolutely not necessary or important?

I used to read Anna Quindlen's column religiously, not because we have a similar life as other readers claimed (her kids are older, her career is more successful, she's happ
Jul 21, 2012 Deborah rated it liked it
I like Anna Quindlen a lot. I think she's a very good writer who writes about important subject.
However, it turns out that she is a better read for articles. An entire book is too much to read all at once.
The difficulty lies in getting to know her too well. She is actually younger than I, and espouses a heightened consciousness about working women. But the privilege is very hard to take in large doses, and her feminism is just too tinged with lack of discernment about class and race issues. I'm
Aug 01, 2014 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads, 2014
I listened to the audio of this book and was brought into the world of Anna Quindlen, told in her own voice. I have not read her nonfiction before, but have devoured her fiction work. This was a wonderful look at the woman behind the stories I have loved.

Women who were growing up in the 60's and 70's will relate so well to this book. I am not sure the younger generation will but they could learn quite a lot if they were so inclined. She talks of changes in the role of women, balancing careers
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
You will love this book from the very first paragraph. It is about every woman's concerns from Day One of their worrying years. You will laugh and say to yourself...."oh my, how true." Or...."wow...that happened to me."

Each chapter had a topic that was very poignant and one that will make you reflect as you read through the incidents and facts. The chapter titled Generations and the chapter titled To Be Continued definitely brought tears to my eyes. Another chapter titled Older will make you lau
Jan 19, 2012 Margaret rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Yeah, I'm so excited. I won an Anna Quindlen book in a First Reads giveaway. I can't believe it. I'll be watching the mail for it and let you know how great it is. She is a wonderful writer. I used an essay by her as an example of good writing when I taught Freshman comp back in the late 80's.

My book arrived and I read the first three short pieces and now am going to get busy and read more.

Reading this book was delayed by bronchitis, but I have finished it and can recommend it to women in the 5
Jul 10, 2012 Christine rated it did not like it
Shelves: hate-the-author
Someone on here once criticized Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" as being too self-centered. This person wrote that another title for her book could have been "ME ME ME ME ME ME ME." I, on the other hand, am a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and a HUGE fan of "Eat, Pray, Love," and I vehemently disagree with that review.

THIS book is the memoir that could have been titled "ME ME ME ME ME ME ME." This writer is so self-absorbed, it's ridiculous. Each passage is basically a mini "all about ME" an
Apr 21, 2012 Felicia rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Although the book is a "memoir" it seems much more a compilation of musings and essays about life and aging. Quindlen addresses many issues that I have often contemplated. Her life perspective is interesting, she puts a positive spin on aging. One can't think too much about the book because what's next? Many of the passages in the book are worthy of discussion.
Apr 04, 2012 Ingrid rated it it was amazing
It's a rare day when I give a book five stars. In this case, I picked up a personal, poignant reflection on womanhood at just the right moment in my life. Anna Quindlen, who writes reliably excellent books, shares her thoughts on materialism, kids, girlfriends, work, body image, religion, growing old and so much more.

I very much appreciate Quindlen's down-to-earth style. Her experiences are highly relatable, told with stories that both made me laugh and rang sometimes all too true.

A couple of m
Kay Wright
Jul 21, 2013 Kay Wright rated it did not like it
We used to have so much in common, Anna. But one of us went astray and clearly it was me. I didn't marry Gerry, have three perfect kids, a perfect job, two perfect homes and fame. Anna, I loved your stories of crying in the bathroom at the Times and Quin and Chris licking their orange fingers and saying "I like these"' after their first run-in with Cheetos.

The subtitle of this memoir is Read it and weep ladies for I have created the perfect life. In spite of being the first woman who ever had to
Apr 24, 2012 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
I've read all of Quindlen's novels, but have avoided every one of her non-fiction books because that's usually what I do with non-fiction, avoid it. I listened to this so I could have the author herself speak to me, and it was very enjoyable if you don't mind the New York accent, and I don't. She mainly writes about motherhood, so this memoir is no different. But if that was all she wrote about, she wouldn't be my favorite author of the.moment. She discusses how times have changed from when she ...more
Aug 16, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: wackynonfiction
Although I only read half of this book - because after the first half it got reallllllly boring to me - I'll still give it 3 starts. I *do* like Anna Quindlen. Perhaps if I were 10-15 years older, I would have read and treasured this compliation of "life lessons" from the spunky and witty authoress. But her middle-age monologue about life as an upper-middle class or lower-upper class woman just wore on me a bit too much. Yes, I would love a summer house in New England and write for three months, ...more
Dec 15, 2012 Trish rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, skimmed
This was outside my usual reading range. I was looking at it because I'd come across some enthusiastic reviews and I thought it might be a nice gift for a sibling. I can see why Quindlen is a popular writer: she articulates those things about her life (our lives) that are peculiar and noteworthy and sometimes stressful and talks about them with us. It must be a great relief for some folks to discover that here is someone who thinks exactly like them.

However, I may be a bit of an outlier. I have
Barbara Burd
Apr 13, 2012 Barbara Burd rated it liked it
I really enjoy Anna Quindlen's style and her writing is unsurpassed. This book was enjoyable, but as a working slightly past middle aged woman, I found it difficult to relate to her in many areas. She has lived a privileged lifestyle thaT she assumes is common to everyone. The first essays in this book address the accumulation and comfort she has found in the "stuff" that makes up her life and while in the end she suggests that possessions aren't important, she fondly talks about her homes and a ...more
Debbie Petersen
Apr 03, 2012 Debbie Petersen rated it it was ok
I want to preface this review with the statement that I love Anna Quindlen's fiction and I am a fan of hers on Goodreads. One True Thing stands as one of my all time favorites, and I gave it 5 stars, which I only bestow upon a select few. With that being said...onto this review.

There were parts of the book that were 4 or 5 star worthy. Unfortunately this was marred by the author seeming to forget that she is speaking from a place in life that most women her age have never experienced, and most l
Jul 21, 2012 Su rated it really liked it
I will begin this review by stating that if you are approaching sixty, or have already passed that golden age, this is a must read book. Well, must read if you are a woman. I suppose this will sound sexist, but we all know men don't think and feel the same as we do. I have always loved this author and she does me proud once again. You will cry and laugh, but mostly you will connect with most everything she says. And in its own way her writing can bring you solace and peace.
Larry Bassett
Jun 29, 2012 Larry Bassett rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
OK, so this is the question: What is a guy doing reading a book that a gal wrote for other gals? Well, one reason is that this is a book about what it is like to be a woman. I want to know about that. When there is an M box and an F box, the answer is easy. Unless you think about it. I mean, gender is probably a continuum, right? Lots of shades of differences and variations for all of us. Many of think of life as (pardon the phrase) black or white. A or B. M or F. But there is a feminine part of ...more
Apr 05, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it
As a Boomer, reading Anne Quindlen’s book reminds me of curling up on the living room couch with a close friend who really “gets” me and listening to her wry observations on life.

And oh wow, DOES Quindlen ever get it! Her essays are insightful, perceptive, poignant and wise as she addresses so much of our shared Boomer experiences: marriage and kids, the importance of girlfriends, expectations and let-downs, aging and premonitions of mortality. The insights into a unique generation of women who
Feb 14, 2017 Kiwi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, nf-bio
Interesting and well-articulated memoir. I think that how much of this book would resonate with the reader depends on the reader’s stage of life. Some of points made by the author may be lost on the younger generations, but if you are a baby boomer and female, you’d probably relate and find it both funny and insightful. I found it touching and a little bit depressing too.
3.5 stars.

Fav. Quotes:

We trust our friends to tell us what we need to know, and to shield us from what we don’t need to discov
Oct 16, 2014 Lormac rated it liked it
I generally enjoy Anna Quindlen's essays, and I can't say I didn't like this one, but over the course of my reading relationship with Anna, I have started to feel a chasm open up between us. Part of it is a feeling that her essays have become (dare I say it?) a little self-congratulatory (Christ, there is even a Q&A with MERYL STREEP (!!) at the end of this book which is a real pat-ourselves-on-the-backs), and the other part is a feeling that Anna does not exactly inhabit the world of real w ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Anna Quindlan is one of those writers you know you can count on. This collection of essays is described as a memoir, but is really a series of essays on what it means for a woman to turn 60 with grace. Every woman reading this, especially those of a certain age, will nod in recognition at the shared experiences physical and emotional especially when the life has been well spent. There is nothing outstanding about her, if you take her at face value. She was an extremely bright young woman who gra ...more
This is about being a woman, past, present and to some extent future. It's what she learned in her life and what she made peace with over the years. Read this book with a pencil or some book darts on hand, because it is full of wonderful quotes. It's realistic yet uplifting, and it makes you wish you were sitting at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a chance to ask questions and draw out more stories from this brilliant woman. Given the current political climate, I especially loved hear ...more
Jun 09, 2016 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, memoir
I just finished listening to the audio version of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake A Memoir through Overdrive on my iPhone. Anna Quindlen is the author of the book, and it was wonderful to hear her read her own memoir!
Anna Quindlen tells about her experiences raising a family, working from home, the changes that go along with aging and much more.

Through the years I have initiated and participated in swap meets with friends and neighbours to exchange clothes and was surprised when Ms Quindlen me
Squirrel Circus
Aug 02, 2012 Squirrel Circus rated it it was amazing
You should know, up front, that I am a big fan of Anna Quindlen's writing style. I broke one of my cardinal rules by reading a New York Times review, before finishing this memoir; accidentally, that it is. I was looking for online cover pics and could't resist.

The reviewer, Judith Newman, also likes Anna Quindlen, but takes SOME issue with her latest....."therein lies the problem for those of us who have loved Quindlen but at this point are a bit exasperated: her verities, while deeply soothing
Feb 16, 2012 Laurel-Rain rated it it was amazing
"I want to be able to walk through the house of my own life until my life is done."

In the concluding chapter of "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake," Quindlen shares this kernel of her truth, her wish, as she wraps up this wonderful memoir about living in these historic times.

Moving from stories of childhood to growing older, the reader can find something that resonates, especially if the reader is someone past a certain age. But even younger individuals can find moments to identify with.

I really e
Feb 16, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
In “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quinlen gives her thoughts on a variety of subject connected to being a Baby Boomer, the sandwich generation, retirement, ageing and dying. I must stay that I haven’t read any of her books yet but I do love memoirs. She mixes her life experiences with her insights and comments. I really think this book is only for Baby Boomers. If you are younger or older, I don’t think you will “get it”.

The book is easy to read but did not go fast for me. I kept laying
Jun 03, 2012 Kathy rated it did not like it
I got fooled, I admit it. I have enjoyed Anna Quindlen's novels in the past but I should have done more research on it. This is a pretty lame excuse for a book - let me write essays that basically all deal with the same thing so I can make some more money. I used to feel that I had something in common with her because both of our mothers died young of ovarian cancer. But that's all I have in common with her and quite frankly that event happened primarily to our mothers not us.

Anna describes her
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Evergreen Park Re...: The wisdom acquired by living 1 2 Mar 16, 2016 06:39PM  
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Live Video Chat with Anna Quindlen 46 101 Oct 13, 2012 08:26AM  
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Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: OBJECT LESSONS, ONE TRUE THING, BLACK AND BLUE, BLESSINGS, RISE AND SHINE, EVERY LAST ONE, STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS, and MILLER'S VALLEY. Her memoir LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bests ...more
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“The thing about old friends is not that they love you, but that they know you. They remember that disastrous New Year's Eve when you mixed White Russians and champagne, and how you wore that red maternity dress until everyone was sick of seeing the blaze of it in the office, and the uncomfortable couch in your first apartment and the smoky stove in your beach rental. They look at you and don't really think you look older because they've grown old along with you, and, like the faded paint in a beloved room, they're used to the look. And then one of them is gone, and you've lost a chunk of yourself. The stories of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the tsunami, the Japanese earthquake always used numbers, the deaths of thousands a measure of how great the disaster. Catastrophe is numerical. Loss is singular, one beloved at a time.” 111 likes
“One of the greatest glories of growing older is the willingness to ask why and, getting no good answer, deciding to follow my own inclinations and desires. Asking why is the way to wisdom. Why are we supposed to want possessions we don't need and work that seems beside the point and tight shoes and a fake tan? Why are we supposed to think new is better than old, youth and vigor better than long life and experience? Why are we supposed to turn our backs on those who have preceded us and to snipe at those who come after? When we were small children we asked 'Why?' constantly. Asking the question now is more a matter of testing the limits of what sometimes seems a narrow world. One of the useful things about age is realizing conventional wisdom is often simply inertia with a candy coating conformity.” 19 likes
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