Podcast 212: Our First Happier Podcast Book Club Episode! With Dani Shapiro About Her Memoir “Inheritance.”

Happier Podcast Book Club

Yes, it’s our first “Happier Podcast Book Club” episode! And boy did we make a great choice for our first pick. We were thrilled to have author Dani Shapiro join us to discuss her memoir Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. Dani Shapiro is the best-selling author of four memoirs (all of which Elizabeth and I have both read) and five novels. Inheritance, her fifth memoir, hit the shelves a few months ago and is a big bestseller and getting tremendous buzz. Here’s the official description:

What makes us who we are? In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her. Inheritance is a book about secrets—secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history

Inspired by this project, Dani recently launched an absolutely riveting podcast, Family Secrets. Small world: Dani was Elizabeth’s first writing teacher! The passage Dani reads is on page 42. We had so many excellent questions from readers—as well as our own questions, of course. For instance, we ask Dani…

  • Did you know that you’d write about this experience from the very first moment that you received the new information about your family?
  • How do you deal with the fact that readers are often judgmental about memoirists?
  • What was the significance of the dress on the book jacket?
  • Does Dani think that her bio-family might have responded differently if she hadn’t been so accomplished and articulate?
  • Does she regret her tattoo?
  • How do the “Waldens” feel about the book?
  • Did Dani get to know her half-brothers?
  • Julie wrote to say how deeply she was moved by Dani’s description of her conversation with her aunt Shirley. Dani reads this passage aloud (page 136).
  • Looking back, how does Dani now view the many, many times she was told, as she was growing up, “You don’t look Jewish?”
  • Would Dani be interested in meeting donor siblings, if there are any out there?

Finally, Dani offers a Try This at Home suggestion: Try meditation. She suggests using the app Insight Timer.  Elizabeth and I are so happy that we’ve started this new segment. It was such a joy to read a book together. Stay tuned for the next choice! Remember: Whenever it is and wherever you are, there’s always a book is waiting for you.


  1. You can download my free Manifesto for Outer Order (which is not included in the book!) here.
  2. Want to get an email every time we release a new episode of the Happier podcast? Sign up here to get an email with the show notes for every episode.

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