Sara Gruen

more photos (1)

10,700 books | 551 friends

4,390 books | 80 friends

5,846 books | 248 friends

Brandy ...
157 books | 223 friends

4,357 books | 312 friends

716 books | 69 friends

9,026 books | 1,660 friends

1,745 books | 234 friends

More friends…

Sara Gruen

Goodreads Author

Vancouver, Canada



Member Since
July 2015


Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels: AT THE WATER'S EDGE, APE HOUSE, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011.

She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.

Sara Gruen is currently not accepting new questions.

Popular Answered Questions

Sara Gruen Research is one of my very favorite parts of the writing process. It’s also why you’ll never see me set a book in Sudbury, Ontario, in the middle of w…moreResearch is one of my very favorite parts of the writing process. It’s also why you’ll never see me set a book in Sudbury, Ontario, in the middle of winter!

I love that I can find something that fascinates me--and that I hope will fascinate others--and immerse myself in it until I feel I know it well enough to write not just about it but from within it, if that makes sense. I have to create a fictional world in my head that I pass into when I'm writing, and because I also hope to transport readers there, all the details have to be in place. Although I no longer enter the world of "At the Water's Edge" to write, I still know every cobweb in the Fraser Arms, every floorboard that creaks, the earthy, oppressive smell of the Anderson Shelter.

I incorporate real incidents into my novels all the time. It's the interesting little nuggets I've never heard of that fascinate me the most, and I think readers like taking away odd little bits of knowledge as well. It's also true that when I'm blending fact with fiction, sometimes the lines do blur. If I want to include something historical that almost works but not quite, I remind myself that I’m a novelist and can take a little creative license. For example, in “At the Water’s Edge,” I incorporated every Nessie sighting that happened up to the time of the novel, and reimagined the most famous one, the “Surgeon’s Photo,” as the Colonel’s photo in my book. I also incorporated a few wartime incidents, like the Royal Observer Corps sighting of the monster and the bombing in Foyers, although in both cases I changed the year.

I’m very careful about accuracy, and during my initial research make contacts with museums, historians, and others so I can ask questions and verify things that come up as I'm writing the story. I also have a point person to read the final text for accuracy. I can’t say history was my thing in school, because it seemed dry and somehow disconnected from real life, but now that I’m learning about it by unearthing WWII installations, unwittingly tromping around among undetonated 70-year-old bombs, and crawling under abandoned circus wagons, it feels very much alive! (less)
Sara Gruen I'd love to live temporarily in all kinds of different time periods (if I got to pick and choose my circumstances, of course--everyone kind of assumes…moreI'd love to live temporarily in all kinds of different time periods (if I got to pick and choose my circumstances, of course--everyone kind of assumes that if they went back in time they'd be a Lady Mary and not a Daisy in the kitchen, but the reality is most of us would have been Daisy in the kitchen or a fish wife on the docks). But my completely non-exciting answer is that I would choose to live in the here and now, because I would not have made it to my first birthday without antibiotics, and I think things like central heating, air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and kitchen/laundry appliances are most excellent. I cannot imagine going outside and stirring a great pot of boiling lye once a week to do the family's laundry, but I can tell you that my tolerance for dirty clothes would be a lot higher. (less)
Average rating: 4.05 · 1,478,840 ratings · 72,861 reviews · 9 distinct worksSimilar authors
Water for Elephants

4.09 avg rating — 1,361,996 ratings — published 2006 — 159 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
At the Water's Edge

3.66 avg rating — 72,384 ratings — published 2015 — 50 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Ape House

3.49 avg rating — 27,596 ratings — published 2010 — 56 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Riding Lessons (Riding Less...

3.44 avg rating — 10,297 ratings — published 2004 — 28 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
Flying Changes (Riding Less...

3.71 avg rating — 6,496 ratings — published 2004 — 22 editions
Rate this book
Clear rating
The Sara Gruen Collection: ...

4.32 avg rating — 41 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
Sara Gruen Collection! 4 Bo...

3.85 avg rating — 27 ratings — published 2005
Rate this book
Clear rating
So geht's noch besser zum G...

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 2 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
Die Frau am See

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
More books by Sara Gruen…
Riding Lessons Flying Changes
(2 books)
3.55 avg rating — 16,791 ratings

Related News

A Philadelphia socialite and her husband hunt Scotland's Loch Ness monster in At the Water's Edge, a new World War II-era novel from the author of ...
37 likes · 15 comments
Tea parties and tickle tag with primates—the animal lover who wrote Water for Elephants describes the friendships she made with bonobos while craft...
22 likes · 19 comments

Upcoming Events

No scheduled events. Add an event.

Sara’s Recent Updates

Sara Gruen is now friends with Karen
Sara Gruen voted for The Almost Sisters as Best Fiction in the Semifinal Round of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Sara Gruen answered Melanie Bowles's question: Sara Gruen
I do think about cover design, and sometimes even mock them up, but so far they haven’t even remotely resembled the final covers. Suffice it to say there’s a very good reason why I’m not a designer!
Sara Gruen liked an answer from Diana Gabaldon:
Diana Gabaldon
Sumeria, 3500 BC. That's when the earliest known form of writing appeared; would be fascinating to watch the effects of the written word on a culture that had never seen it.
Sara Gruen liked an answer from Philippa Gregory:
Philippa Gregory
I have a very strict rule on this! No woman should wish to live before 1960 – life without reliable contraception was always a constant anxiety. No woman who wants political power could be happy before we got the vote in the 1920s. No woman wanting a See Philippa’s answer.
More of Sara's books…
“When two people are meant to be together, they will be together. It's fate.”
sara gruen, Water for Elephants

“With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.”
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants

“I want her to melt into me, like butter on toast. I want to absorb her and walk around for the rest of my days with her encased in my skin.

I want.”
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants


What will be our August 2017 Open Pick?

Remember, if you vote for a book and it wins, you are implicitly promising to read the book and participate in the discussion. The poll will be open through June 30th. (Note: You can change your vote at any time prior to the closing of the poll.) Discussion will begin August 1st.

  8 votes, 40.0%

  6 votes, 30.0%

  4 votes, 20.0%

  1 vote, 5.0%

  1 vote, 5.0%

  0 votes, 0.0%


Topics Mentioning This Author

topics posts views last activity  
Books I Want To T...: Water for Elephants - NO SPOILERS 22 126 Feb 10, 2008 01:21PM  
The Book Challenge: Heather's 2008 Challenge 111 293 Dec 07, 2008 08:15AM  
The Next Best Boo...: Advice for newbie? 22 143 Dec 30, 2008 06:52PM  
The Book Challenge: Jennifer's 2008 Book Challenge 70 305 Jan 01, 2009 10:20PM  
The Next Best Boo...: Group Read Nominations for February IS CLOSED! 102 537 Jan 28, 2009 08:35PM  
The Next Best Boo...: March's Group Reads are....... 305 891 Mar 15, 2009 11:53AM  
Challenge: 50 Books: Frankie's 50 April 2009 - April 2010 8 135 May 16, 2009 06:50PM  
The Next Best Boo...: Adam's 2009 Reading Goal 23 342 Jun 14, 2009 07:15AM  
The Next Best Boo...: OFFICIAL SPRING CHALLENGE - 2009 6453 8812 Jun 14, 2009 02:57PM  

Comments (showing 1-1)    post a comment »
dateUp arrow    newest »

message 1: by Donna

Donna Sara, thank you for accepting my friend request on Goodreads.

back to top