Monday, October 27, 2008


Yes, we knew the way to San Jose, with help from Gypsy -- Gypsy is our navigational system’s nickname, G(y)PS(y) – and found our RV campground which caters to long-timers but they reserved a small space for us.

While on the RV, I went to change my shoes but when I opened my shoe compartment I couldn't’t get a pair in or out. I admit I did buy another pair recently and some of you told me I already had too many shoes – but after emptying the cabinet, I realized it wasn’t the shoes that were a problem, it was all the extra books I had tucked in there. More than I thought, probably ten, so I weeded and parted with six.

The night before Book Group Expo I finished an enjoyable light read on my kindle, A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack. I thought I would purchase their other book, Literacy and Longing in L.A. It is also available in a kindle version and just as I was about to push the “Buy Now” button, I thought I’d postpone any book buys until after going to Expo. I was looking for inspiration and ideas of what to read next.

And that is what I got and more. In its third year, Book Group Expo, is a wonderful two day convention which brings readers and authors together. In salons,

<<“In paying tribute to tradition (of 17th century literary salons) and in keeping with the stimulating atmosphere of the modern book group, our authors will not be performing the usual readings, but will discuss specific topics with one another, the moderator, and the audience.”>>

and at author signings and at a literary marketplace – with reading resources from bookstores and publishers. There were also performances: Brian Copeland enacted a piece from his one-man play, Not a Genuine Black Man, two actors read from their book of Reduced Shakespeare, and Sharon Henderson & Friends sang out Sunday morning gospels.

The salons themes included friendships, food, mothers, strong women, making a difference, grief, witches, liars, etc. The pairing of themes with authors and their books were sometimes straightforward and other times, quirky. Like what do a Christian chick lit author, a green economist, and a novelist whose protagonist is a dog have in common?

There were authors and books I recognized and those I didn’t, those I've read and ones I haven’t, brand name and debuts including Julia Glass, Terry McMillan, Irvin Yalom, Masha Hamilton, Garth Stein, Kate Jacobs, and Audre Dubus III.
(Another blogger,, has some author photos on her Oct 25 entry.)

Often what made a panel work or not were the facilitators – a mix of authors and/or
experienced book group leaders. I found the best presenters to be ones who had prepared well (read all the books), asked great questions, and had the ability to contain the more dominating authors, draw out the soft-spoken and to gracefully get out of the way in moments of an authors eloquent insights.

One facilitator, Julie Robinson, of may have been a Shadchen (the Yiddish word for matchmaker) in a former life. A funny, fast-talking NYer turned Californian, and known as the “diva of book groups,” Julie leads upwards of thirty book groups a week and organizes wonderful literary “Beyond the Book” luncheons matching authors, readers, venue, and food. The kind of event I’d love to attend.

As I documented in the previous post, I won the filled gift basket in the raffle. But I also got the regular freebies that all participants received. A totebag with ads and promos, a cuddly lap blanket for curling up with a good book, and two free books. Guess what? Remember that book (above, third paragraph) I ALMOST ORDERED the night before on my kindle? It was one of the print ones in my bag. Really!

And my cleaned out shoe compartment can now just about sqeeze in those extra books from the basket.


Wendy said...

Lucky you, winning the gift basket!!! Thanks for the link to my blog (yes, I remember meeting you :))...I posted another post about the Expo tonight on my blog...and I plan to post Part II tomorrow night! It was really fun, wasn' it?

Barbara said...

It WAS a lot of fun -- and this followup is too. I've never linked to someone elses blog before. And I love reading what others thought of the whole thing...I'm coming over for a visit right now!!

Heather J. said...

Hi! I found your blog because Carol Fitzgerald of mentioned it in her newsletter (in the part about Book Group Expo).

I just want you to know that you are fulfilling a huge dream of mine by traveling around the country. Hubby and I have been "planning" (more like hoping!) to do this "one day". I've read books about it and even interviewed an author who wrote one of those books (it's called Live Your Road Trip Dream, and I reviewed it on my blog), all in the hope that we WILL do this one day.

So I'm adding your blog to my google reader - I want to keep up with what you're doing and use it as incentive to make this happen for myself one day!

Here's to a wonderful trip!

Barbara said...

Heather -- if you go back to this blogs beginning you'll see that Live Your Road Trip Dream was a major help and influence to us -- it introduced us to Class B RVs. Carol W and I have emailed many times and this blog has been mentioned in her enewsletter!
I'm so glad to inspire keep up with the blog. Loved your comments and also your blogs and participation at
I am impressed with how much you read and then review and blog. Seems like I give up a lot of my book reading time by being online.