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9 Things Judy Blume Suggests Doing Now​

The best-selling author's second act includes tap dancing and running a nonprofit bookstore

Judy Blume
Jeffery Salter

Take Your Passions Seriously

When I started writing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, I was this suburban mom, and everyone, including my then-husband, thought, Oh, isn’t that cute? She thinks she's a writer. But I needed creative work. I didn’t see it as cutesy, and I got mad at anyone who did.

Stand Up for Reading

We went through a period of book banning in the ’80s, and it seemed that we came out of it. And now here we are all over again. Mine get banned frequently because they are about the inner lives of tweens, and I try to really reflect the ways kids think and feel, including about puberty and sexuality. What I tell people is, “Unless you stand up and say why these books are important to you, they’re going to be gone. So you’d better make your voice heard.”

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Judy Blume and husband George Cooper
Judy Blume (left) with her husband, George.
Courtesy Judy Blume

Listen to Your Gut

I was having dinner with my husband, George, one night in 2018 when I noticed something wasn’t right. He looked yellow. It was the weekend, and he said he felt fine, that he’d go to the doctor on Monday. I said, “No, no, no. Now.” We called our doctor, who told us to get to the ER right away. George had pancreatic cancer. He got treatment immediately. He is one of the very, very lucky ones who has survived. He is beautiful, healthy, handsome, fabulous.

Tap Your Troubles Away

There is a lot of luck involved in how we age. With me, the hips, the knees — they haven’t gone yet. Why? I don’t know. But I think it’s because I keep moving. I work in my bookstore three days a week, and I’m up and down the ladders. I bike to the store, too. On the other days, George and I walk 2 miles. But really, for me it’s all about dance. When I was 45, I took up tap dancing, and I became obsessed. I didn’t want to write — I didn’t want to do anything but go to tap class every day. You’re slapping those feet around, and it’s just wonderful.

Color Your World

Here’s my trick for looking my best on Zoom: I have a pink light. Under pink light, everyone looks wonderful.

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Hold Out

People have been trying to buy the film rights for Are You There God? for 50 years. As far back as Aaron Spelling. That’s how long it’s been! But I hated the way American filmmakers portrayed tween kids. They were always either too sexy or too cutesy. Director Kelly Fremon Craig and producer Jim Brooks wanted to get it right and be true to the story. And it’s just what I envisioned. It was worth waiting 50 years.

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Be Stealthy

Want to encourage your 10-year-old kid or grandkid to read a particular book? Tell them it’s too mature for them. Just leave the book around and say, “You are not ready for this yet.”

Find Purpose

My Uncle Bernie was a beloved high school English teacher and the most optimistic, satisfied person I knew. He used to say the key to a happy retirement is to get up every day and know what you’re going to do. When I finished my last book, In the Unlikely Event, in 2015, I said, “That’s it. No more books.” So George and I got a bookstore. We didn’t have a clue what we were in for, but it satisfies my need to be involved in something new and different. It keeps my life exciting. Again.

“I was a very anxious child who grew up to be not brave but willing to take risks.”

—Judy Blume, 84

 

Know When You've Made It

For years I didn’t want to even say I was from New Jersey. I don’t know why. Then they named a rest stop on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway after me. Frank Sinatra, Jon Bon Jovi and now me. And I couldn’t be prouder. I’m a Jersey tomato!

Judy Blume is the author of 29 books and the cofounder of Books & Books @ the Studios in Key West, Florida. A film of her classic tween novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret will be released next April.

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