This past summer I was fortunate enough to run into Sarah Jessica Parker, actress extraordinaire, accomplished producer, designer, and mom, currently partnering with the American Library Association to launch Book Club Central. We spent quite a while discussing her first book club choice, No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts, as we’ll as many other books. Below is my article originally posted on booktrib.com.
Authors are supportive to each other and many enjoy engaging with their readers. Book groups connect people to each other allowing them to discuss the stories authors write, current events and personal life. Books can bring people together from all over the world, highlighting issues, relationships and perspectives, binding us to each other. This appreciation of literature and the excitement over reading is what created an opportunity for me to spend some time bonding with Sarah Jessica Parker.
I was thrilled to have the unique opportunity to discuss authors and books with her earlier this month and there was no shortage of words between us once we got down to it. We covered a multitude of topics beginning with the recent announcement of her involvement with the American Library Association. According to the ALA’s website, mentioned in The State of American Libraries 2017, “In the 21st century, libraries of all types are responding to the changing social, economic, and political impacts of living in a digital society. Academic, school, and public libraries provide services that empower people for change. Library workers’ expertise, combined with dynamic collections and digital resources, help individuals develop new skills, communicate with others through new technologies, and help make their communities better places to live”. A worthy organization with lofty goals, they just created Book Club Central and chose SJP to be their Honorary Chair. An exciting position for her as she is a lifelong reader and sincere lover of books.
The first book she picked is No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts, associate professor of English at Lehigh University, my beloved alma mater. As mentioned on the book jacket, “a revelatory debut from an insightful voice; an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream”. Perfect book club choice with much to discuss.
Ahhh, and there is no rest for the weary! Along with her demanding acting, producing and business careers, and raising a family, SJP now has a new publishing imprint, SJP for Hogarth, partnering with Molly Stern. It took Sarah Jessica nine months to find the first book she wanted to publish and it should be available in early 2018. As stated on the SJP for Hogarth website, “she has acquired her first manuscript, a debut novel by Fatima Farheen Mirza, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The novel, tentatively titled “A Place for Us,” follows an Indian-American family that is reunited on the eve of the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding. It tackles issues of belonging and tradition, delving into the complex experience of an immigrant family in the United States.” SJP will be focusing on publishing fiction and will be involved in discovering authors, editing and cover design. I am looking forward to reading this one as I love novels about immigration.
Sarah Jessica Parker, like me, always has a book with her and I was curious to know what she was currently reading. She told me she was enjoying an ARC on her Kindle of a new Jonathan Miles book (author of Dear American Airlines) coming out in March 2018, and I told her I had just completed A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman and was engrossed in The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. We discussed the great joy of reading a book before publication; it is like knowing a secret before anyone else, and we are grateful to have that unique and special privilege.
Often asked to pose for photos with fans, SJP has created an opportunity for herself to raise some money for the American Library Association by asking people for a $5 donation in exchange for a selfie. She then she takes some time to educate people on what the organization is all about. I can vouch for her efforts because recently my son and his friend donated $10, had a picture taken with her and told me she talked his ear off about some library thing….(tip for SJP… don’t waste your breath on teenage boys!)
Thank you Sarah Jessica for chatting with me and bonding over books! The book world is lucky to have you as a spokesperson for libraries, literacy and books. To make a donation to the ALA you can visit this link. Please take a moment to sign up for the Book Club Central newsletter and visit SJP for Hogarth to stay up to date on her first release.
Since this article was written, SJP has chosen Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, and the new book by Jonathan Miles, Anatomy of a Miracle for Book Club Central. In January 2018, No One is Coming to Save Us author Stephanie Watts received an NAACP Image award for her debut novel. A Horse Walks Into a Bar won the Man Booker International Prize 2017.