Going to author readings and signings is a fun thing to do. You get to hear authors describe their books in their own words, understand more about the meaning behind what you're reading, and learn the correct pronounciation of names in the book.
Monday night at Esowon Books on LaBrea in L.A. I got to see Tayari Jones read from and talk about her newest novel, The Untelling, which was released in April. It was a great event. A nice audience of a "Who's Who" among black writers, teachers, social workers, and other citified professionals.
Among them: Dana Johnson, author of the short story collection Break Any Woman Down, who won the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction; and Chris Abani, whose novel Graceland was a Today Show pick and won just about every other fiction award in 2005. I haven't read Chris' book yet, but Dana's short story collection is one that I revisit and read often... and I am not a big short story person usually. You will love the stories in her collection. Trust. And then of course another great group of people to meet was the Esowon Books staff.
Anyway, it was a treat getting to meet so many legends and legends in the making. Tayari is chock full of jokes and quips. And at one point she had all the writers in the store introduce themselves and blurb a bit about their projects. Very cool. Most importantly, I walked away with more appreciation for The Untelling and now have to re-read it because of things I missed or didn't get the first time I read. Her novel, Leaving Atlanta, is now very relevant with the re-opening of the Atlanta Child Murders case. Go get that novel too.
The thing about going to bookstore events is this... you get to meet authors, they're inexpensive, you meet cool people with similar interests, and you walk away with an autograph, cool new books, and can impress your date with your knowledge of things literary. Or even if you don't know things literary, you can impress each other trying to learn.