I didn’t, but I learned at a session of this month’s Massachusetts Library Association Annual Conference that the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) was formed (in Boston?) in 1917 because, at the time, women weren’t allowed to join the National Book Association. The Women’s National Book Association sponsors National Reading Group Month each October and publishes “Great Group Reads,” an annotated list of titles suggested for book groups.
On this second day of Armchair BEA, imagine yourself filing into one of the Javits Center’s many conference rooms to listen to a panel discussion of authors talk about the experiences they have had visiting book groups, virtually or in person. Have you ever thought about inviting the author to your book club discussion to get the inside scoop or a unique insight? These four authors who participated in a panel discussion at the Massachusetts Library Association conference this month, all said they would love to be invited!
From left to right at the table in the front of the room:
Phoebe Baker Hyde (The Beauty Experiment: How I Skipped Lipstick, Ditched Fashion, Faced the World Without Concealer, and Learned to Love the Real Me)
Nancy Rubin Stuart (Defiant Brides: The Untold Stories of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married)
JoeAnn Hart (Float)
and Henriette Lazaridis Power (The Clover House), the panel moderator.
The Beauty Experiment: How I Skipped Lipstick, Ditched Fashion, Faced the World Without Concealer, and Learned to Love the Real Me by Phoebe Baker Hyde is a stunt memoir about a year in which the author, a young mother at the time, adopted her husband’s daily “beauty” regimen as her own, and skipped the time-consuming morning routine of doing her hair and make-up. (And, look! With all the time she saved, she was able to get an entire book written!) Her book has generated some heated discussions among readers, reported the author (who was a cultural anthropology major in college). She said that men who can get past the lipstick on the cover also find her book interesting, as it raises questions about self-esteem that are universal. Phoebe also presents a wellness/writing workshop called “Making Peace with the Inner Voice,” that ties in with her book. Read a Boston Globe article about Phoebe Baker Hyde here.
“The tradition of stunt nonfiction begins with Thoreau.” — Phoebe Baker Hyde
Defiant Brides, about the lives of two women who married political radicals – one becoming a patriot, and the other, a spy – in the time of the American Revolution, is Nancy Rubin Stuart’s most recent book. She has also had several other works of nonfiction published, mostly histories or biographies related to women. Defiant Brides sounds like a promising choice for groups that read nonfiction selections, at least occasionally. Nancy runs the Cape Cod Writers Center.
“Librarians, we love you.” — Nancy Rubin Stuart
Float by JoeAnn Hart, which the author calls “eco-fiction,” sounds like a novel that would spur a lot of discussion, especially in book groups that like to tackle books about current issues. Here’s the description from the author’s Web site: “Float is a wry tale of financial desperation, conceptual art, insanity, infertility, seagulls, marital crisis, jellyfish, organized crime, and the plight of a plastic-filled ocean. JoeAnn Hart’s novel takes a smart, satirical look at family, the environment, and life in a hardscrabble seaside town in Maine.” JoeAnn lives in Gloucester, Mass., and her first novel was Addled, published by Little, Brown in 2007.
The Clover House by Greek-American author Henriette Lazereter Powell of Weston, Mass. has a strong, but flawed, female main character, Callie Brown, who may be found by some readers to be “unlikeable,” the author says, referring to author Claire Messud’s famous rant about not needing to be friends with characters in books. Callie, a first-generation Greek-American, “stumbles on a family secret from the second World War.” Henriette always brings “props” with her to book groups, usually items emblematic of the Patras Carnivale, such as the black, floor-length domino robe and mask a woman would wear to the anything-goes, opening night ball.
All four authors are happy to visit local book groups or visit groups anywhere via Skype. They are all members of the Boston chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, but the WNBA is nationwide, with chapters in the following cities:
- Los Angeles
- New Orleans
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington, DC
Let’s talk interacting with authors IRL (in real life) or online. This is your opportunity to talk about your favorite author readings that you have attended. Or, you can feature your favorite author fan moment (i.e., an author sent you a tweet or commented on your blog). Maybe you even want to share how your interactions have changed since becoming a blogger or share your own tips that you have learned along the way when interacting with authors as a blogger.
More Than Just Words
There are so many mediums that feature more than just words and enhance a story in a multitude of ways. Examples may include graphic novels and comics, audiobooks, or even multimedia novels. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats?