Author On the Bookcase: Claudia Sternbach, author of Reading Lips

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Author On the Bookcase
Claudia Sternbach

Claudia SternbachI'm excited to welcome Claudia Sternbach, author of Reading Lips: A Memoir  of Kisses. Claudia takes a unique platform to tell her story.  Kisses -- a father's kiss, first love kiss, best friend kiss -- tell the tale about small and, sometimes big, moments in one's life. This book is Claudia's life in her kisses.

Kiss and tell, Claudia! 

One Kiss is Never Enough
by Claudia Sternbach

It wasn't that I sat down one day and decided to write a book about kisses. I am not that clever. But ever since my memoir Reading Lips A Memoir of Kisses sold to Unbridled Books people have said things to me like, "Brilliant!"  Or, "Why didn't I think of that?" As though I actually had made a plan and then stuck to it.

Oh how I wish my mind worked that way. But the truth is I am much more helter skelter. I don't even match up my socks when putting them away. Actually, I don't even put them away. What happened was that like many writers, a tiny seed of an idea lodged itself in my brian, like a piece of spinach between two teeth, and stayed. That seed was the memory of a boy I had known in elementary school. His name was Teddy. I loved him. And there was a rumor he was going to try to kiss me on the last day before summer vacation. I could remember every detail. So I sat down at my computer and began to write. Not because I believed it would become anything. Simply to get it down on paper and out of my head.

I was sure that much more important topics were just waiting to be explored. And once I had excised Teddy I could get back to these most valuable issues. I assumed an hour or two at my desk would take care of things nicely. I was wrong.

As I began to write more and more kept coming. I lived and breathed my childhood and could hear the kids in the school yard, feel the heat of the tar paper roof when a group of us climbed up on it during recess. Could hear the snap of bone breaking when I fell off and feel the cool cement step I sat on with the principal while waiting for my mother to come take me to the hospital.

Reading LipsOn and on I traveled, realizing eventually that at most big moments in life there is a kiss. Romantic or maternal. Daring or unasked for. Appropriate or not even close. Say, for example, you are about to be released from visiting a convicted murderer in San Quentin Prison. Should there be a kiss? Or perhaps your boyfriend has just spent a full week sharing a room with his supposedly ex-girlfriend. Should you kiss him hello when you find him at your door? And what about when a dear loved one is about to go in for surgery and it is still dark out and no one has any idea what will happen by the end of the day. A kiss is all there is to express what you feel as she is wheeled away.

So I found my groove and just kept going. I found that like eating potato chips, one kiss story led to another, then another. It became a small group of personal essays and then a full on collection and now the bag is empty but there is, amazingly,  a book -- Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses.

Thanks so much, Claudia, for sharing your story about how Reading Lips took hold and never let go. It is so true that sometimes "a kiss is all there is to express what you feel."

Reading Group Alert! Parents, childhood, friends, romance, identity, grief -- Reading Lips will produce a lively discussion.


". . . Sternbach has carefully considered how to make a life story interesting through unusual yet approachable formatting, and she throws humor, sarcasm and self-deprecation into the mix….A memorable, laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud essay collection for both genders and all ages.”"Kirkus Reviews

Learn more about Claudia.

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