Upper East Sider Zibby Owens is on the move. The 45-year old energetic Jewish mother of four and “Good Morning America” regular just published her first picture book “Princess Charming” (Random House), and her debut memoir, “Bookends: A Memoir Of Love, Loss, and Literature” (Little A), comes out over the summer.
In case that’s not enough, Owens is the creator and host of the award-winning, Oprah.com-featured podcast “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books,” the co-founder and CEO of her publishing company Zibby Books, and has been deemed “NYC’s Most Powerful Book-fluencer” by New York magazine’s Vulture.
Interestingly, Owens’ success has all happened in the neighborhood she’s called home since childhood. “I’m a native New Yorker. I live just a few blocks from where I grew up. I left for college and graduate school. But, I’ve been back here since 2003,” said Owens.
The daughter of Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of private equity firm The Blackstone Group and New York Public Library benefactor, is a philanthropist in her own right, co-chairing the Library Council as well as sitting on the boards of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center and the Child Mind Institute.
After graduating from Yale and Harvard Business School, Owens returned to Manhattan and took writing classes at The New School with author Sue Shapiro. There, she says in “Bookends,” she learned to publish her work in different magazines and newspapers, pointing out that her start as a writer was actually a culinary piece for Our Town about making roast chicken.
“Obstacles and Losses”
Her memoir is an emotional, deeply moving and inspirational book chronicling relationships, love, food issues, the writing life, finding one’s true calling, and the healing marrow embedded in books and reading. “Owen’s infectious enthusiasm radiates with charm,” according to Publishers Weekly.
“Bookends is a very personal story mostly about the years between 9/11 and today, the story of how I lost and found my voice,” she said. “It’s about how I overcame obstacles and losses, reading and writing all the way through. It’s no surprise I’ve dedicated my life to helping authors because authors have helped me so much. It’s the journey I’ve taken that had many unexpected plot twists. I started writing it after business school, after I was taught that life could end at any minute.”
Owens sometimes did her writing in the local Shakespeare and Company, Le Pain Quotidien and Upper East Side coffee shops. “I also wrote a lot of my books between stuff with my kids, standing in line waiting for them at their school, with them waiting in doctor’s offices, on the playroom floor,” Owens said.
Originally written as a novel, Owens says “Bookends” is “a story of reinvention,” illuminating how “life continues to provide unlikely successes and losses and how books can be a through line to getting through.” In it, she mentions her parents’ difficult divorce, her own divorce, and a remarriage to Kyle Owens, a former tennis pro turned film producer.
“I’m lucky to have become a part of the writer community in New York and interviewed over 1100 authors for my podcast,” she said. Owens’ podcast has featured mostly female authors, such as Stacey Abrams, Dr. Jill Biden, Tamron Hall, Hillary Clinton, Alicia Keys, Tiffanie Drayton, Delia Ephron, Sonya Singh, Anna Quindlen and Meg Cabot.
Her picture book “Princess Charming” offers an empowering message for little ones who are making their way through the world, inspired by her own experiences as a mother and writer featuring a hero who doesn’t let failure stand in her way and never gives up.
Owens has had local book events at The Craft Studio, Pink Chicken and Shakespeare and Co. Upcoming, she has an event at Book Hampton and the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center. To launch her memoir, she’ll be doing an online panel on Tuesday night, July 5 from 7-8 p.m. at The Strand Bookstore downtown with her former teacher Shapiro, called “Online Secrets Of Publishing,” which Owens has obviously found.
“It’s no surprise I’ve dedicated my life to helping authors because authors have helped me so much.” Zibby Owens