It's not unusual for me to say that one of our featured authors did a good presentation. It's perhaps slightly more rare that a presentation is so good that one of our customers sends flowers to us, just for helping bring him to town. But that's what happened after our recent event with Austin Kleon, who came in conjunction with the publication Show Your Work!: Ten Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. Thanks, Lora!
Show Your Work! is the next step of his previous book, Steal Like an Artist. For those who are not naturally comfortable promoting, he suggests becoming part of a "scenius." He cautions against vampires and spammers. And he gives some pointers in dealing with criticism.
One major change from Kleon's last appearance is that he's gone low tech. While he used a Powerpoint for his last book, this time he's chosen to got with a pad, well, at least if he isn't able to set up a smart pad. One day, one day! Writing on the pad gave the event a real sense of intimacy.
One great thing I loved about the talk was that he spent time browsing the store and came up with five recommendations. Here are the books that he chose:
And the Pursuit of Happiness, by Maira Kalman
Why Read Moby Dick?, by Nathaniel Philbrick
Seven Days in the Art World, by Sarah Thornton
Decoded, by Jay Z
What it is, by Lynda Barry
Kleon said he's had particular difficulty finding Decoded in stores. Good thing that Terrail has it on his staff rec list. I suggested that a store would love to know in advance that an author will be recommending books. We've not only stocked the books in the past, but even made recommendation bookmarks.
Once again, we were invited to sell books at the Ozaukee Family Services breakfast, at Shully's in Thienesville. Just about every nonprofit has an annual fundraising meal. While most have speakers, Ozaukee Family Services features Barbara Rinella, a Chicago-area performer who inhabits the lives of famous women, inspired by biographies, memoirs, and even historical novels. Last year she was Cleopatra, while this year she channeled Queen Elizabeth II, inspired by Sally Bedell Smith's Elizabeth the Queen.
Now Rinella doesn't just make a few recs, she had a whole table full. We had two six foot display tables, and at least half the display space, maybe more, was taken up with books on her list. Last time I guess the program must have gone long, because the advice at the end was to check out the list, but this time, Rinella passionately talked about a dozen titles. Good thing we had almost all of them, but we didn't think to bring in more than a couple of each, based on last year.
One book that we had previously not been carrying which we'll now be stocking is The Traitor's Wife, a novel by Allison Pataki. It's the story of Benedict Arnold's wife, Peggy Shippen Arnold, and tells the story of her role in the plot to deliver West Point to the British. It's said to be deliciously sordid!
I was particularly impressed with the way she took on Nickolas Butler's Shotgun Lovesongs. I think if they sent her on tour as Queen Elizabeth, talking that book up, it could become a huge bestseller, bigger than when Ronald Reagan made The Hunt for Red October. I also immediately wanted to give her a copy of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, as she told me she hadn't yet read it. I know she'd love it! As it was, I brought a few copies anyway and sold both of them.
Here are Barbara Rinella's recommendations for 2014.