Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hachette Book Group's First Book Group Day

Here is the book event I attended on September 29 at the New York City Public Library, Mid-Manhattan Branch.

*I copied the information from their website so you could enjoy the day as well.*

I had a great time meeting the Hachette Folks and the Authors. 

We also left with a very useful, zippered book bag and six random books from the authors in attendance.


Musings from Hachette Book Group’s First Book Group Day

rsz_carol_karen.jpg20121008163746.jpgHachette Book Group’s first Book Group Day on Saturday, September 29th was a huge success. Eleven authors shared stories about their books, their characters and their writing process in a five-hour event that was a celebration of reading.

Candace Bushnell.JPG20121006162648.jpg20121006165025.jpgThe day kicked off with Candace Bushnell, the author of Sex and the City, who read the prologue of her upcoming book and joked that that came easily; now she just needs to finish the rest of the book that lives up to the prologue. She was very amusing. Asked what she has been reading, she said that she had just finished reading Aftermath by Rachel Cusk, and from here she got onto the topic of how English writers are less sentimental than American ones. When Americans do that, they are criticized for that. One of her favorite books is The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton, a book that Wharton was criticized for because it did just that. Something very interesting to ponder.

ayad.jpg20121008163104.jpgThe next panel featured three literary fiction authors. First up, Ayad Akhtar spoke about American Dervish, which he describes as a novel about rupture and renewal. It’s about Hayat Shah, a young Pakistani American who is in love for the first time. Mina is Hayat's mother's oldest friend from Pakistan. When Mina begins dating a man, Hayat is confused by his feelings of betrayal. His growing passions force him to question all that he has come to believe is true. I loved the comment that Ayad’s mother shared after she read it: “We were all doing the very best we could.” I think so many of us need to think about that when we think about things we might have wanted to see done differently in our childhoods. Something to remember.
Jami Attenberg.jpgAlso on this panel was Jami Attenberg, whose book The Middlesteins comes out on October 23rd. For more than 30 years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie's enormous girth. She's obsessed with food, and if she doesn't stop, she won't have much longer to live. When Richard abandons her, it is up to the next generation of Middlesteins to take control. Do Edie's devastating choices rest on her shoulders alone, or are others at fault, too? Jami grew up outside Chicago and, while growing up, shunned everything Jewish. Writing this book was a chance for her to go back and look at those roots and talk stories with her family. She has a lot more openness with her family now than she did before. She made me crave a great bagel…and a corned beef sandwich.

P1010295.jpg20121008160917.jpgThe Lifeboat has been one of the most talked-about books of the year. In it, Charlotte Rogan looks at what happens when an ocean liner sinks and the lifeboat gets overloaded. In our review, Terry Miller Shannon calls it “a gripping, urgent story told in a manner that doesn't settle easily and will be difficult to forget.... [R]eaders will find much to this memorable tale reminiscent of Titanic meets Lord of the Flies." From what I heard in the room, this was the book that generated the most excitement of the day. In fact, my friend Beverley who attended the event with me called yesterday to tell me she already had taken it out of the library. A revelation to Charlotte: there are two sisters in the boat…and she has a sister. She had not thought about that as she wrote it. Her dad had a sailboat, and when they were growing up, he was very competitive and liked to race with other boats. She and her sister were too young and too small to do anything. It was their job to stay out of the way. She was not thinking of that until she saw there were two sisters in the boat!
Larissa Ione and Jill Shalvis chatted about their very different romance titles. Larissa’s are paranormal vampire books with lots of X-rated sex, while Jill’s series is more rated R. Neither will allow their children to read their books, which is somewhat amusing.

jodi kantor.jpgOn the nonfiction panel, Jodi Kantor talked about her book, The Obamas, which is about how the First Couple came to the White House with no background in Washington customs; in fact, they had not lived together as a family for years. She talks about how the book is a real insider’s look at how the White House functions and the folks who work there who have been there for generations, doing the jobs behind the scenes no matter who is in power. There are valets from the branches of the military assigned to the President to ensure he always looks dapper and his closet is arranged with military precision. Amusingly, the First Lady does NOT have this. Great stories!

margaret roach.jpgMargaret Roach left her job at Martha Stewart Living to move to her home in upstate New York, in a remote area. Her latest book, And I Shall Have Some Peace There, is a memoir about this journey and her efforts to lead a more authentic life by connecting with her garden and with nature. She told a marvelous story about how each weekend when she was still balancing her life at work with weekends in the country, as she drove to the house, there was a moment in her drive where she left the city behind and the vista before her spoke to peace and tranquility. She took a photo of that scene and someone painted it for her. She talks about solitude vs. loneliness. She made me long for such a place of quiet!
Interestingly, both she and Jodi both wrote about famous people and worked with famous people, but they have both always been in the background of the stories…not at the forefront. Very interesting to see what they both learned from that role through the years.

13.jpg20121006170740.jpgThe Mystery Panel had Megan Abbott, the author of Dare Me (a book that I could NOT put down), as well as Cornelia Read, whose latest book is Valley of Ashes. Megan talked about how the ultimate mystery is “What is the switch that makes people cruel?,” which is definitely a theme in her books about cheerleaders. Here’s what our reviewer, Joe Hartlaub, had to say about it: “This is one of the most quietly chilling and compelling books that you will read this year.... Abbott peels back the seething drama that lies beneath the glitter and the smiles under the Friday night lights, and it’s anything but pretty. It sure makes for compulsive reading, though.”
14.jpg20121006170806.jpgCornelia draws from the experiences of her life; she is a former debutante whose family background is very socialite while her own parents were dropout hippies. She amusingly shared that she gave up disguising family members years ago. And instead they infuse her characters.

stacy schiff.jpgStacy Schiff, author of the hugely popular biography of Cleopatra, opened her talk by sharing that she belongs to a book group that she has been a part of with a group of women who came together when their children were five years old; they are now 19. They get together now to talk more about their lives than about the book, and twice a year they invite their husbands to be there as well. She talked about how she loves being a biographer and how she sees it as a wonderful way to learn history through the view of one person. So true! She had MANY funny stories to share about the depths she has gone to in the names of research, which consumes years before she starts the writing process.

The moderator for the day was the always upbeat and completely engaging Karen Torres from Hachette; you can see her in the photo with me above. There were door prizes and gift bags throughout the day, making it a really, really festive day! And the interactions with our readers during the event made it all the more special to me. There are plans to do this event again!


  1. I will be there next year too!!! It was a lot of fun!!

  2. Oh man, that looks like a wonderful event. I love most of those authors! What books did you get?

  3. I received these books:

    THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jami Attenberg

    CLEOPATRA by Stacy Schiff

    LETHAL RIDER by Larissa Ione - not my genre

    THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott


    AMERICAN DERVISH by Ayad Akhtar

  4. What a great event! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  5. What an awesome event. The Texas Book Festival is next weekend and I can hardly wait!

  6. ENJOY the Texas Book Festival. Now that sounds like a lot of fun as well.

    I hope you will be writing a post about it.


  7. Sounds like a great event. So lucky you got to go. Thanks for sharing.