Diane Hammond, author of Hannah's Dream, attended the signature event of National Reading Group Month, held this year in Seattle, WA. Here is her report on what sounds like a great night filled with authors and insights about book groups and author tours!
On Monday, October 20 the Women’s National Book Association brought together some 200 avid readers and book group members plus a bookish panel of six at the University of Washington Book Store. The gathering simultaneously celebrated National Reading Group Month and held the first charter meeting of the Women’s National Book Association’s brand-new Seattle chapter, and it was delightful.
My fellow panelists were authors Nancy Pearl (Book Lust and More Book Lust) and Nancy Horan (Loving Frank); Cheryl McKeon (Book Club Coordinator for the excellent Third Place Books in Lake Forest, WA); Mary Ann Gwin (The Seattle Times book editor); Stasha Brandon (manager of public relations and events at UW’s bookstore); and Rebecca Willow (co-owner of wonderful Parkplace Books in Kirkland, WA).
In a free and lively give-and-take between the panelists and audience members, we talked about what makes reading groups go—what sorts of interactions work well, how books are selected, whether or not a member moderates the discussions, and so on. I confess I was brazen about announcing my love of book groups and my shameless habit of inviting myself to any meeting I get wind of that focuses on one of my books, and here’s why: everyone has read it. On book tours that traditionally launch a book into the world, most attendees haven’t got a clue what the book is about yet, beyond dust-jacket copy and early reviews. That means the writer has to talk about her work in a way that is not only engaging, but convinces audience members to buy. No small feat, for writers like me, who by druthers would live the life of a hermit. A salesperson, I am not.
After the lively discussion, books were bought and signed. My close friend and fellow HarperCollins author Jean Reynolds Page was in the audience—and found that her most recent book, The Space Between Before and After, was included in every participant’s bag of goodies. As well it should have been, since it’s a great choice for book groups.
The evening wrapped up way too soon and, at least for me, will be one of this fall’s highlights.