In the Flesh or Between the Lines? The Benefits of Including the Author
Favorite Author, Garth Stein, during an on-campus visit
As many all-campus and community reads organizers begin finalizing their decision for 2014 program titles, the account managers here at Books in Common often field an important question: why is it so critical for the author to participate, in person? We've worked with hundreds of event planners, on thousands of programs around the country. With nearly 100% agreement, the clients we work with say that having the author in the flesh dramatically increases the success of their programs.
1. The anticipation of an author visit encourages patrons/students to read. The prospect of a community-wide literary event can often draw the participation of classrooms, cultural centers, and local social networks.
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Black History Month: Celebrate with Award-Winning Authors
With February right around the corner, it's a great time to think about adding an author event to your programming for Black History Month. Here are a few wonderful authors, with award-winning titles we've been recommending.
Edward Kelsey Moore
, author of The Supreme's at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat.
A New York Times best-selling author, a professional cellist and a music professor, Edward Kelsey Moore's first book spent seven months in a row on Amazon's "Best Books of the Month" list, and was picked for the Independent Bookseller's IndieNEXT list. Earl's All-You-Can-Eat is home away from home for three inseparable Plainview, Indiana, women. Dubbed "the Supremes" by high school pals in the tumultuous 1960s, they weather life's storms together for four decades.
author of Salvage the Bones
and Where the Line Bleeds
. Jesmyn Ward is a stunning writer on the rise. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds
was an Essence Magazine Book Club Selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Her second novel, Salvage the Bones
, won the 2011 National Book Award and follows a family of mother-less children in the wake of a devastating hurricane.
, author of The Other Wes Moore
. Two kids with the same name, living in the same city. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House fellow and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder. The Other Wes Moore is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation. Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moment of surprising redemption, Wes Moore's books speaks of a generation of young people trying to find their way in a challenging, and at times, hostile world.
|Southern Kentucky Reads & Book Festival
Like many of our clients, Kristie Lowry, Library Outreach Coordinator the West Kentucky University Libraries and coordinator for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, wears more than one hat! She shared some of her experiences in arranging events for a book festival, community reads program, and library author events.
BIC: Any idea about how many literary events / festivals you've done over the years?
KL: Counting the 2014 Southern Kentucky Book Fest that I'm currently planning, I've worked on six book festivals, six community reading projects, six used book sales, and countless other author visits. I also help with the administrative aspect of two literary awards-the Kentucky Literary Award and the Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award.
Christina Baker Kline, Author of Orphan Train, on the Power of Community Reading
We recently sat down with New York Times bestselling author, Christina Baker Kline. Her novel Orphan Train is about a young Irish immigrant who, as a child, is sent away from New York on a train that regularly transported unwanted and abandoned children from the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest. Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train
is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience. The novel (which is the authors fifth work of fiction) was selected as a Target book club pick, has held steady on 5 national bestseller lists, and has just gone to print for the fifth time!
BIC: Any idea about how many literary events you've done over the years?
CBK: Literally hundreds! ORPHAN TRAIN is my fifth novel and tenth book. I've been talking about writing - my own and other people's - at conferences, bookstores, libraries, historical societies, town halls, and at colleges and universities for years. And I've been on the road with ORPHAN TRAIN since its publication in April (2013).
BIC: What do you like about the Campus/Freshman Class and Community Reads structure as a literary event format? Any thoughts on how they could be more effective?
CBK: As an author I love interacting with people who have already read my book. I particularly like visiting classrooms where students are encouraged to explore questions about theme, identity, and research. Currently I'm working on a "Reading Group" tab for my website that will include - among other things - the top ten questions that reading groups ask me, along with my (detailed) answers. I think this will be a useful resource for book clubs, high school and college students, and Community Reads participants.
|The Evolution of All Fairfax Reads |
Ted Kavich, program and educational services manager for Fairfax County Library, takes All Fairfax Reads in a new and exciting direction!
BIC: The Fairfax Reads program was recently transitioned into a Book Club Conference model. What made you decide to make this switch, and how has the experience been so far?
TK: Actually, September's Book Club Conference was just one of the new directions we hope to explore in the coming months/years. There are so many cool, "outside the box" kinds of events we'd like to coordinate, and of course our time and resources are limited. Thus, All Fairfax Reads (a successful program series for sure) was retired so we could move forward with some new and innovative types of events. The Book Club Conference was an amazing start to this effort - a hugely successful event with great turnout (250 attendees, our max capacity due to venue size), completely positive feedback, and an excellent keynote speaker (Will Schwalbe). We are so glad we reached out to book club members in our community - they came out in force to support an event geared to their interests and needs.
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Books In Common Supported Events!
Richardson Reads Draws Almost 1,500 Participants, Best Program in 10 Year History! Richardson Texas packed the house last month for a visit from Markus Zukas, international bestselling author of The Book Thief. With almost 1,500 participants over three activities, the Richardson Reads event eas universally acknowledged by the event organizers as the best program in its 10 year history! Markus was a delightful presenter, sharing one heartfelt moment with a young lady from Richardson High School that left many in the audience in tears. Susan Allison, coordinator of the event, is already worried about how they can possibly top the 2013 event next year. A good problem to have! Luckily, Books in Common will be there to help Richardson Reads hit it out of the park once again. "Y'all have been great!" Susan said.
Lopez Island Library Welcomes Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The Lopez Island Library caught a rare opportunity to host New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler earlier this month. When Books in Common discovered that Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, planned to visit the Seattle-Puget Sound area and had an extra day to fill, we informed the Lopez Island Library at once and were able to arrange for Karen to attend a speaking engagement in the beautiful, off-the-beaten path San Juan Islands. Both Karen and the library's patrons enjoyed a fun, cozy chat and reading.
Thor Hanson, author of Feathers, Wows in Minnesota. The University of Minnesota's Raptor Center hosted renowned biologist and speaker Dr. Thor Hanson for a talk on Feathers. Almost three hundred science lovers showed up at the Bell Museum of Natural History, Minneapolis, to share a night filled with a shared love for science, birds, and new learning.Said organizer Amber Burnette: "Every one of our staff who attended, as well as volunteers and other folks we talked to afterwards, thought it was a wonderful talk. Obviously Thor is a remarkable story teller, and made an interesting topic very accessible and engaging. Thank you to all for this wonderful opportunity to work together."
National Book Critic Circle Award Finalist Reyna Grande, Author of The Distance Between Us: How to Engage Your Readers
Reyna Grande, author of
Across a Hundred Mountains, Dancing with Butterflies, and The Distance Between Us, is a sought-after speaker at middle/high schools, colleges and universities around the country. Born in Mexico, Reyna was raised by her grandparents after her parents left her behind while they worked in the US. She came to the US at the age of nine as an undocumented immigrant and went on to become the first person in her family to obtain a higher education. We spoke with Reyna about her most recent book, The Distance Between Us,and her thoughts about how to engage readers, particularly students.
BIC: What lessons can be learned from your latest book, The Distance Between Us, that make it work well for a literary events program, especially those for college students?
RG: I think The Distance Between Us works so well for students because it gives them an insight into the issue of immigration--a hot topic issue that is often covered in the media from a more political perspective. But in my book, I address immigration from a very personal standpoint, giving readers a way to view immigration from a different angle. This helps them to understand that immigration is not only a political issue, it is also a very personal issue that affects millions of families in every way imaginable.
Another thing that I feel will resonate with college students is the belief that you can succeed despite the odds. Many students, especially those that are economically or culturally disadvantaged, are facing similar struggles to those that I faced when I was their age. By telling my own story, I've found a way to encourage and inspire students to fight hard for their dreams and to not let anything stand in their way of reaching their full potential.
We Recommend - Community Reads Book Selection: Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
Harvard educated neuroscientist Lisa Genova writes about the mind. Her moving novels follow families struggling with disease and injury of the brain, a topic that always leads back to the heart. Her most recent title, Love Anthony, deals with the difficult and often life-changing diagnosis of autism.
Olivia's young son Anthony hated to be touched, and almost never made eye contact. At first, Olivia is crushed and furious that medicine offers no real help. She and her husband try everything; they drain their bank account and their souls in a vain attempt to make their son behave like other children. Gradually, though, Olivia comes to accept that Anthony isn't normal and never will be, and that's not all bad. But just realizes that happiness and autism can co-exist, Anthony dies, and so does her marriage.
Two years later, she is living in their summer cottage in Nantucket, where she and her neighbor, Beth, find a way to heal through change. Love Anthony is both the closing of a letter from a loving son to his mother, and an appeal to the mother to love the son, no matter what. Love Anthony is a perfect choice for an event in April, Autism Awareness Month.
|We Recommend - All Campus Reads Selection: Shards by Ismet Prcic
How can a young man adjust to life in America when his experience of a "normal" life is war-time chaos, danger, death, and deprivations? In Shards, Ismet Prcic captures the absurdity, tragedy, and slow-motion collapse of life in Tuzla, Bosnia, as civil war rips the former Yugoslavia apart.
Prcic's vivid, daring narrative structure brings across the incomprehensibility of war, trauma, and recovery. For college and high school students, many of whom may be too young to remember the Bosnian civil war, this provides opportunity to study ethnic and religious conflict, Balkanization, and their long-term effects - a timely topic given the ongoing Middle East conflicts. Among adult readers, both men and women will find a personal, intimate view into a war they only knew from the TV screen's safe, sterile distance, as well as a better understanding of the price and hardships war exacts from its youngest, most vulnerable citizens. Discussion topics and programming options abound in Shards.
NYTimes Bestselling Author and Speaker, Christina Baker Kline
Check out these Upcoming Events Arranged by Books in Common
February 7, 2014:
Woodstock Academy, in collaboration with the Bracken Library, will host Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train.
February 22, 2014:
The Big Book Club has invited Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat, as a featured author at their annual conference.
March 22, 2014:
West Kentucky Reads will host Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost for their annual community reading program.
March 26, 2014:
One Book, One Community of Monroe County has chosen Reyna Grande, author of the
Distance Between Us
, as their 2014 selection for the community reading program, in collaboration with the Monroe County Community College All-Campus Reads.
March 31, 2014:
Andrew McCarthy, actor, director and author of The Longest Way Home will appear as the keynote speaker for the Tidewater Community College Literary Festival.
April 24, 2014:
The Alabama Writer's Symposium will hear from Koethi Zan, author of The Never List, which will be adapted for television next year.
Check out even more events schedule here!