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A few weeks ago, author Jamie Brickhouse joined Jennifer Ferguson and her group for a discussion of his memoir, DANGEROUS WHEN WET. Jennifer was kind enough to share some of the highlights of the evening, including some of the topics her group discussed with Jamie, how having the author at their meeting changed the conversation (for the better!), and why DANGEROUS WHEN WET works so well for book groups. She even shares tips for making the most of an author visit. And scroll all the way down to see a photo of Jamie and the group.
I'd venture a guess that there's a good chance you text --- a lot. Maybe at lunch or before you go to bed, but probably while you're doing other things, too --- "listening" to your teacher talk about the Civil War, sitting at the office or even walking, biking or driving. In his book A DEADLY WANDERING, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matt Richtel explores a "texting-while-driving" incident that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006 and the greater influence of technology on the human mind and society. See his blog post below, where he discusses the book --- it will definitely make you think twice about your own texting behavior.    
In February, ran a special contest in honor of the publication of Deeanne Gist’s TIFFANY GIRL --- where the plot is centered on the construction of Louis Tiffany’s famed Tiffany Chapel. We gave one group the chance to win dinner and a discussion with the bestselling author. The winners were the newly named “Rambunctious Readers,” a small group in Orlando, FL, who seem to live up to their lively name! Book group leader Barbara Leach was kind enough to share some of the highlights of Deeanne’s visit, including an enlightening dinner and a trip to the Tiffany Chapel itself! Barbara also shared lots of wonderful pictures with us, which you can see in the gallery below.
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held on the sunny USC campus over the weekend of April 18-19th. The festival has been taking place for 20 (!) years now, and reader Kathy Jund has been going for 12 of them. Here, the seasoned attendee tells us all about the LATFOB (which she humorously refers to as her “Disneyland”) --- including her favorite panels, Billy Idol, and why she’s so pleased that there’s a greater YA presence at the event. Considering the festival took place in Los Angeles, we couldn’t help but ask about its Hollywood visitors, and Kathy was more than happy to indulge us! Scroll all the way down to view our gallery of Kathy's wonderful photos.
“Fun, sun and literary soirées…” The First Annual Palm Beach Book Festival kicked off last weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida. Award-winning author Sandra Balzo --- best known for her Maggy Thorsen mystery series --- was in attendance and was kind enough to do some sleuthing for us. Here, Sandy shares what made the festival such a huge success, her favorite panels and panelists, and what an honor it was to represent her late fiancé, crime writer Jeremiah Healy, who had served on the festival’s advisory board and to whom the mystery panel was dedicated. She also took tons of amazing photos, which you can view in the gallery below.
Journalist Bethanne Patrick, one of Flavorwire's “35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet," tweets as @TheBookMaven and began the #FridayReads book discovery meme. Bethanne received her MA in English from the University of Virginia and lived in Charlottesville twice; she has been involved with the Virginia Festival of the Book since 2000 and regularly moderates its Agents Panel. She also was on a panel about book groups, which had a wonderful turnout! The veteran attendee was kind enough to share her experience at the event this year, including her favorite panel and the most surprising thing she learned.
When we heard that bestselling author John Searles was visiting a book club in each of the 50 states to discuss his award-winning mystery, HELP FOR THE HAUNTED, we couldn’t help but be impressed by such an ambitious undertaking! Halfway through this exciting project, he took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions about his whirlwind tour. Here, John talks about some of the most interesting groups he’s chatted with so far, the strangest question he’s been asked, and what makes HELP FOR THE HAUNTED such a terrrific book for discussion. If your group is interested in discussing it, you can find the guide here.
This past weekend, March 14 – 15, the University of Arizona campus was overrun with book lovers of all shapes and sizes, as people gathered to attend the Tucson Festival of Books. With more than 250 exhibitors and new and veteran authors including Lisa See, Deborah Harkness and William Kent Krueger in attendance, there was plenty for attendees to see. Luckily, Edy Alderson is an experienced festival-goer, and she was kind enough to navigate the scene for us. Here, Edy shares --- with infectious enthusiasm --- her favorite panels, event highlights, and which book she’s most looking forward to reading.
It’s been a brutal winter, and all this snow has made traveling nearly impossible. We got to wondering how book groups have been faring in these colder months, and what measures they’ve been taking to combat these precipitous obstacles. We asked our readers in last month’s registered newsletter to share their strategies, and we were delighted (but not surprised) to see that many of you seem to have this all figured out.
Jonathan Odell's deeply moving novel, MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE is set in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi. It's the story of a town, a people and a culture on the verge of a great change that begins with small things, like unexpected friendship. Jonathan himself grew up in Mississippi, and here he shares his journey, as a "recovering racist," toward a greater empathy and understanding of others who are like and unlike him. Read on for his story, and click here to watch a video where he further explores the issue of race in America.