Step Right Up: Book Signings and Readings

Jen Lancaster will be in NYC tonight and I had grand plans to attend but just learned my presence is required elsewhere (per my boss).  Suffice to say I’m none too happy about this last minute turn of events. 

Though an avid reader, I’ve only ever gone to three book readings and/or signings.  Maybe I’m afraid that my inner-nutcase will shine through and I’ll get wild-eyed and start fawning in the presence of literary greatness.

As a child, I think I met Judy Blume at a “Young Writers” conference.  I have a hazy memory of this and Blume is from New Jersey, which strengthens my case. 

A few summers ago, before her meteoric rise to stardom, Jodi Picoult came to my local library and though I hadn’t read any of her novels, I went to check her out.  She was a charismatic speaker, erudite and self-deprecating, and made writing seem like something any of us could do.  I didn’t own any of her books but ended up buying Plain Truth and having her sign it.

The other reading I went to was at my local Barnes & Noble.  Megan McCafferty, author of the Jessica Darling series, paid homage to her old stomping grounds at my B&N.  Megan was so entertaining and thankfully I didn’t make a fool of myself when speaking with her.  In my book, that counts as a success.  I was sorry to miss Megan’s most recent book tour for the final Jessica Darling book–I was driving home from Florida when she had a signing in Princeton.

Do you go to many readings or signings?  Who were some of the most memorable authors you’ve seen or heard?  Have you ever made a fool of yourself while chatting with an author (or is that just my own special talent)?

21 responses to “Step Right Up: Book Signings and Readings

  1. We never really get that many over here. If we do they tend to be in London, which is just too far to travel. I would love to go to one though.

  2. I have been to one…to see the Yarn Harlot- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Didn’t get my book signed but was fun listening to her speak about knitters. 🙂

  3. I haven’t been to any but I would love to. I envy you meeting Jodi Picoult.

  4. The only signing I’ve ever been to is for Orson Scott Card. Although Borders often has people in their stores, and I do stop by the table to show support, those don’t really count.

  5. Love Jodi Picoult novels! I attend SC Book Festival annaully and there is an abundance of authors to meet and listen to…they are actually quite “normal” One lady invited me to “tea” at her home in Chimney Rock!

  6. If we ever had a signing, I’d probably go. I’m in an author and book event black hole.

  7. I’ve only been to one author event and it was at school. We had a bunch of authors come give a reading and it was awesome, but I don’t remember any of their names.

    My creative writing professor won the pulitzer, so going to class with her every day is kind of like an author event haha 🙂

  8. The only author who I’ve met at a reading/signing is Jasper Fforde, who is incredibly witty and charismatic in person. For some reason he reminds me a lot of Hugh Grant (in a good way). I’ve actually met him twice (not that he’d remember) and both times were great – he gives away goodies at his signings (bookmarks and postcards and the like), and they’re always a good time.

  9. It’s hard not to make a fool of yourself when meeting an author at a signing; the contrived situation practically insures awkwardness.

    In the ’90s I worked part-time at the bookstore Shakespeare and Co. (not the famous Parisian shop- NYC) and we regularly had author events. Two I remember well are Art Spiegelman ( Maus, et al.) and Mark Leyner ( My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, Et Tu, Babe, et al.) Spiegelman because, well, there’s no way to put this nicely, he was a prick. Leyner because he was absolutely charming and entertaining.

  10. One of the best signings I went to was Wally Lamb. He indicated he thought I would be a good writer because I was articulate. Unfortunately, being articulate does not translate to being a good writer, though it was a nice compliment.

    The other awesome author I’ve met is Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love. I met her at the Festival of Books, she let me gush, then she signed my book with “You made my day.” That will always be a favorite.

    Then the worst one was Kelly Corrigan, where I basically opened my mouth, inserted my feet, and started talking. It was pretty horrific, and while I can laugh about it now, there’s just no getting around the fact that I made a complete fool of myself. Even better, there were witnesses! Yay for me!

  11. I’m so glad Trish commented – I love reading about her author meetings! I’ve only been to one reading (Lisa Genova/Still Alice) and it was fun. I always think about maybe going to some more in Boston but I never get around to it.

  12. I got to see Maya Angelou once and she signed a book of her poems for me. She was truly inspiring!!

  13. I went to a Linda Howard book signing for Open Season and most recently, Kat Von D for High Voltage Tattoo!

  14. I met Martha Grimes at an event several years ago. She’s one of my very favorites, and it was fascinating seeing the woman behind the words. Last year I also met Dr. Irene Pepperberg, the researcher who made Alex the African grey parrot famous. Another truly inspiring woman. Both big treats!

  15. I haven’t been to many readings/events but I do make a trip to the Sydney Writer’s Festival each year (it’s coming up soon at the end of this month). The most memorable author I have listened to was Ayaan Hirsi Ali – just brilliant and so inspiring.

  16. I love meeting authors! It can be really inspiring. The best speakers were Jen Lancaster (for Such a Pretty Fat) and Lisa Scottoline (for Daddy’s Girl). Both should go on tour as stand-up comediennes!!! Janet Evanovich (for Seven Up) is a riot, too. Nancy Pelosi (for Know Your Power) was amazing just for the fact of meeting the first Woman Speaker of the House, and third person in line to the Presidency. Even Jenna Bush (for Ana’s Story) was good.

    I guess I’m lucky to live near a big city with a big library who gets at least 20 authors every quarter, and a great local Barnes and Noble network.

  17. Megan McCafferty?! Well, color me jealous! Since you’re the one who turned me on to my terrible, all-encompassing Marcus crush, I feel as though I should try and give you a total guilt trip about your good fortune!

    I won’t, though. I’m super nice like that 🙂

    The only book signing/reading I’ve ever attended was for science fiction writer Terry Brooks, one of my dad’s all-time favorite authors. He was so funny, entertaining and inspiring — especially when members of the 100+ audience at B&N started asking how they, too, could become scifi n0velists (major geeks, the lot of them!). I met him and even took a photo of he and Dad, which was crazy exciting for my father. Overall, a really awesome experience!

    I’m definitely going to make a concentrated effort to attend more book signing stuff in the future… I’m close to D.C. and constantly see alerts to folks doing local readings!

  18. Boy, now I am stalking you! 🙂

    As for me: I am horribly, *horribly* shy and usually like to attend those readings that have SO many people I can get lost in the crowd. Even as a writer I am afraid to ask writers questions! I get so tongue-tied! And when *I’m* reading I shake so much. I am happy to keep my voice steady and glad no one seems to notice much!

    As a new writer who has experienced readings that had 65 people show up and FOUR people show up (and I was the first there!), I yearned for the interaction. Talking to people was a total highlight of the ENTIRE process. If I managed to sell millions of books in my life, I doubt it would be different. I write to overcome silence–which is why process and writing is foremost–but I write to connect with other people, second most in the process. Why else write? 🙂

    Okay, I will leave you guys alone now!!!!!

  19. I’ve never gone to a book signing, although I would love to. I do enjoy having my books signed, though. My favorites are my copy of The Other Boleyn Girl signed at the National Book Festival in September and my copy of The Monsters of Templeton (which I mailed to Lauren Groff and she sent back). I’ve also won a signed copy of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which is my next read. When I love an author who happens to be alive (this is a most important factor), I really want their signature.

  20. I have never been to a book signing or seen an author speak but now that I’m more “involved” in the book world I think I would get more out of it!! Plus it is part of a challenge I signed up for! : )

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