Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

S1E5: Patti with Carol Fitzgerald and Robin Kall

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Patti Callahan Henry interviews two longtime publishing industry pros—Carol Fitzgerald of The Book Report Network & Robin Kall of Reading with Robin. Listen in on what it takes to build up an active community of book lovers. https://www.bookreporter.com/. https://www.robinkall.com/reading-with-robin. 

Welcome to Friends and fiction, five best selling authors and the stories novelist Mary Kay Andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson, Harvey, Patty Callahan Henry and Mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their credit. In 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing and to highlight independent bookstores. These friends discuss the books they've written, the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. Friends and Fiction is sponsored by Mama Geraldine's Bodacious Foods. Cathy Cunningham was a successful but unfulfilled radio executive in Atlanta. One night, while sipping wine and snacking on expensive cheese straws, she realized her mama Geraldine's own cheese straw recipe was far superior. The idea for Cathy's company was born. Mama Geraldine's Cheese straws now come in six varieties, and they are the best selling cheese straw in the United States. Plus, the cookies are melt in your mouth, delicious yummy snacks and a woman owned empire. Now that is something that we here at friends and fiction can get behind. Try them. You'll be so glad that you did get 20% off on your online order at Mama Geraldine's dot com with the code Fab five. Snack on y'all. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the friends and Fiction podcast. We are here today to talk about book communities what we have always known but now even more so. No, is that these communities matter. They sustain us, they build us up, they bring us together. Today we will talk to two women who have built book communities for years now, oppression in their knowledge that we have and will always need our literary communities. We will be talking with Carol Fitzgerald of Book reporter and Robin Call of Reading With Robin. I am Patty Callahan, Henry. Right now we welcome Carol Fitzgerald. She is the founder and president of the Book Report Network. The company's websites book reporter dot com and Reading group guides dot com have been the gathering places for large and devoted community of book lovers since 1996. T b r N is recognized as an online leader of informed contemporary book news reviews and author interviews. Website visitors can read reviews and author interviews, subscribe to newsletters and participate in interactive polls and contests. Carol, welcome. So nice to be here, Patty. So great to be speaking with you. The last time I spoke with you, it was on your video podcast. Reporter talks to authors. I know it was book reporter talks to was like one of the last interviews we did in our office. I think before and I was I And remember, we had to turn off the air conditioner because it was making noise and we could hear that noise. And we were Well, I know, remember, on memory is a memory. After everything we've done over the last year, it's like turning off the air conditioner. That would be simple, You know? I know what to do, right? No big deal. So, Carol, I know you're a Fordham grad and that you worked in marketing for Conde Nast magazine For what, 17 years? Madam sell magazine for 17 years from when I got right out of...

...school. So So what was the spark? I like to call it the origin story that made you start the book report network. That's actually really funny. I created when I was at the magazine. We have been doing documentaries about women in their twenties, and we have been doing great interviews. And the summer after I left the magazine, I was really trying to decide what to be next. And the two people have done documentaries with me, came and said, We're thinking of doing an author interview series, which is going to show you how my life goes like full circle. And we're taking it to Barnes and Noble, and we're going to tell them what we'd like to do. Videos in Barnes and Noble bookstores and when people are sitting in the cafe, this is the beginning of the cafes. This is 1995 okay, and at the checkout they can watch interviews by the authors, because if you fall in love with an author, you want to read everything by. That author. Sounds like a great concept. We go in and we meet with Barnes and Noble and the questions where who will turn the TV on and off who will be putting the tapes in and out. It was just all these logistical questions, and what color are the TV is going to be, and it was just, we realized they had no idea that we were talking about content. Flash forward a couple of more months, and one of my business partners came back Jesse Corn Booth and said to me, A O. L is putting companies into business in something called the Greenhouse and we want to be the book property for a O. L. So we created this big proposal, took it to them. They put 46 companies into business. Three are still standing us the Motley Fool and the knot and everybody else is gone. And we started. I did not know that we started with one site on a O. L called the book report, which meant that we would get notes from kids saying, Could you do my book report for me and all these kinds of questions? So later on, we actually we did decide for kids. We did teens. We did a Christian site for a while. We've just moved. And demographic novel site just moved as the as what we felt like, uh, the industry needed. And what readers needed was a time where we just tried all kinds of different things, and it's been fun because now we're going full circle and we're going back to the book. Reporter talks to video podcast series is a huge part of what we do, and I was like, Wait a second. I had that idea in 1995 but there was no broadband. There was, please. Everything was graphics about that big? Well, not only that, it was probably on eight track tapes that you had to pop in and out if you were going to record it all, we'll see. That's what I said at the get go. You were prescient in your knowledge of what people wanted from their authors. When we first started the wake, all you knew about an author was what was on the back of the book. Patty lives with her husband and her Children in Alabama, and they have a dog like the fact they had a dog was like a really big thing or a cat or something like that. You didn't know anything about why the person wrote the book. So flash forward to now when there's social media, where everything you're doing is being documented and talked about, whereas back then you knew nothing about an author. So we were doing our first interviews. We were actually typing for the authors on a O. L and what were these? And I'm really laughing because we feel like I feel like everything I know now. We learned back in those days because we have an auditorium, which is like a zoom room, and you'd invite authors to come on and be part of the show, but you would type for them. So as you were giving us their answers, we would be typing and it would be coming up on the screen and people would be sitting in rows in this imaginary auditorium. I want to sit in the same row with their friends so they could chat. So it's all these concepts that we're back in 1995 are still now, so it's just been improved upon. Well, the concepts that have saved us during the pandemic? Yes, very, very much so. So you've had your finger on the pulse of publishing for 25 years now, Carol, is that right? 20 five years, always a reader, but then...

...had to learn the business of publishing and what the difference is. I feel like I still bring to the party is I'm still outside publishing. I never worked at a publishing house. I never was an editor. I was always looking at this through the eye of being a reader. And as a result, I am constantly looking at What does the reader need to know about this book? When do they need to know it in the pandemic? Everything changes because, as I say right now, you care about what you're eating for dinner tonight. You're not thinking as far as the weekend. So when you need to know information and when it needs to be shared with you becomes a big part of what we do. Because I'm constantly thinking about what does the reader need to know? Well, that's because you're a reader, right? You're not coming at it from a So when we first met, it was because my first novel was coming out 18, 19 years ago and we were doing giveaways and book reporter. There was no way for me as an author to reach my audience, to reach my readers other than through a site like yours, and it was and is the premier site to do that and then all of a sudden social media. And then then zoom. Then what do you think is the biggest change you've seen in the business of building a book community? The thing that has changed the most in the time that you've had your finger on this pulse is the biggest change I've seen. Is the author talking directly to the reader. That is what has changed enormously without even the conduit of a me. It's an author being able to say My book is coming out. This is what my book is about without a filter of the publishers saying, This is what the book is about. It's and it's the It's the other side of it. It's you hearing from the readers. You're hearing what they're connecting with them, what's what they're connecting to in the book and what they're bringing from their reading experience back to you. You know, I often say that in publishing we write about the book copy that's used every place. It's used on all the bikes sites by India's the big chains. Everybody uses his copy, and I feel like after the book comes out, we should relook at that copy and perhaps change it because what is really bringing people to the book now and this is my thing that I'm constantly looking at is somebody's finding this book. A year later, the cell copy to sell it in which that's really what that copy is to sell into a store is very different that we're telling a reader about. And I always I'm looking at what is my hook to try to get my readers to want to be interested in this book now. And it's when the book is out in hardcover, when it's out in paperback listening on audio, e book, whatever format they're looking for. And I think, too, that the readers can help us write that new back cover copy a year later. Exactly. They're they're starting to tell us what it's about. There's a great blurb that's coming from a reader. Besides what's coming from authors, the authors are the ones that providing the ones up in front and then we get the trade press and then we get the regular media, and then we get the readers and what the readers are saying and often those lines. That's your tagline. That's your pull quote because they're actually saying This is what drew me to want to read the book. And it's also what prompts them to tell somebody else about it. Yes, it's There were ever elusive word of mouth, right? It doesn't. Those don't come from the back cover copy. They come from book communities like yours where people are talking to each other about the books, and that's what they're doing on our word of mouth section people, right on word of mouth. They tell us about the book. They have to finish the book in order to enter a contest to win whatever two books were giving away that week. But what we're doing is we're hearing what they're saying and what the feedback is, And it may not be the theme that you thought was going to be the big theme. It's they're seeing this instead, and you can now do a podcast about that. You can now run with that and do something. It's also the power of book clubs and the power...

...of them going out and telling a group of people that you want to read this book and why, and then being the megaphone for your book. 100% agree, and I think what happens to is when I'm talking to a book club or talking to you in an interview. What the book is really about gets fine tuned. It gets closer and closer and closer to what it's really about. That even we might not have seen, because when we're writing it, we have these ideas. But the readers come to us with a complete and come to you with a completely different eyes. Dia. So how have you seen book clubs deal with the challenges of the pandemic? Are they getting burnt out on Zoom? Are they? Does this community means even more to them? Did it before? What are some ingenious waves you've seen? Because I know book clubs are so important to so many people what I thought was how quickly they shifted to zoom, how quickly the pivot was. It's like if Zoom hadn't been invented, I don't know where we would have been over the past year, but seriously, the way they pivoted, um, one of the book clubs I was in, we immediately went to that and we really were just talking to each other. We were talking about what we were reading, but we weren't talking about a book at that point, and we moved on to talk about a book later. But I was surprised at how many people move that quickly, and they were not going to wait to go back to move in to read in person. And it might not have been month one, But by month three and four, they knew that this is what we were going to have to do, and I'm so impressed to see what they did. And I'm so impressed with how many of them reached out to authors to say to authors, Can you join our club? Can you join our meeting? Can you come in and talk to us? And where we were on book tour authors were on book tour for now. They were on tour at People's homes, and they were doing all these kinds of conversations, and it was what we had to do, and I was happy to see how fast that happened, how quickly we were happy to see how fast it happened, how quickly. I mean, I'm of the generation when you said the word zoom, I thought of that TV show, right? Since I consume assume soon so you know. But how quickly we all, you know, gathered around it. So I know that you have seen so many books published you have read probably more than anybody I've ever met. And you've seen so many marketing campaigns. You've been a part of a lot of the marketing campaigns. We all turn to you and say, Do you think this would work? Do you think that would work? I'm curious. Has there ever been one book that has really astonished you that came out of nowhere and totally skyrocketed? Because you see everything early? Is there one that's complete? I'm totally curious that there's one that surprised you. Yes, Um, gosh, where The crowd as saying that book was not sent to me in a gallery ahead of time. That did not get a big push from me ahead of time. It was the kind of thing where you just started hearing about this book, and all of a sudden it was like, Wait, what is everybody talking about? I think the original print run was 25,000, which is not for anybody. No, I got there. It's not a very big print run. It was not talked about as this is the book, which I'm pitched probably daily at this point. And instead it was Who is this author? Who is she? What, like it was sort of out of nowhere, and I thought that that was really, really interesting. And I think that's been the for the most recent one of what I remember just coming out of okay, what is this book and why is it here? Which gives every novelist hope, Because what we want to know is that books aren't chosen just by the publisher, but that their chosen in the end, by the readers. Yeah, and for reading for the longevity of a book for a book. Okay, let's talk...

...about becoming Mrs Lewis for people to still be reading this, you know, talking about it. It's because it was a good book. It always comes back to the book, and I will say that what's been going on over the past years, I probably more informed about books that are coming out now because I'm watching publisher previews all day long. I mean, there's constantly something that's being scheduled, But you're still trying to cut up with what is going to bubble up and work for our readers. What do our readers what's going to be of interest to them, and how am I going to present it to them? I'm reading less because I have less time because of so much else that's going on. I will say that, and I miss that time to just sit down with a book and read a book. Usually I'm doing it because we're doing an interview. But because there's so many ways that you want to see books now and join Friends Infection on Wednesday night, go do this. There's so many ways to see an author and hear from them, and I find I feel in my schedule just about every day with something to do. Which brings me since you mentioned friends of fiction. How do you keep up with the amazing books? I mean, I've always had trouble keeping up with the books I want to read, because if I'm going to write, I can't read as much as I want. But I want to read so I can write and it's a It's an endless circle. Do you have that? A secret system for keeping on top of all the books that run through your office? Well, I read everything about what's coming out. I go to previews. I go to a lot of previews and I see the publishers talking about what's coming, and I'll go to them from different points of view. I'll go to the library in preview. I'll go to the bookseller preview. I'll go to the reader preview. So I'm hearing what's bubbling up and I'm hearing what's being talked about. I'll go to events where authors are doing pre pub tour events online for their books, and I'll hear what they're saying and I'll hear what people are talking about in the room. So I'm constantly making lists. We started doing this really fun thing last July called Mochaccino Live, which we created because we realize people want to know what's coming out in the next four weeks and because you can't get to a bookstore at the time you couldn't get to a library, you just these places were not open. They're still not open in many parts of the country. So instead we were going to tell you what was coming out in the next four weeks and what was coming out in two months, Like five books coming out in two months. And that was going to book a Chino live. We named it on one zoom call. We had one staff meeting about this. It was our first zoom staff meeting from March to July. We didn't do a meeting. We decided book. Pacino was our chat room when we were back on a O. L. So his book Pacino live, and this is what we're gonna do. And we basically we didn't video it. We didn't do anything because we didn't know what it was gonna be like. We never taped it, and we finished and everybody said, This is really great. So then we kept doing it. We've made videos. We put the videos up on YouTube on our YouTube channel, and people were saying, I can't get I'm working during that time, so I'll watch later. So then we started producing a list of all the books that we're going to talk about during mochaccino live, and you get that an hour before the event so that you can take notes on what you want. Then we decided, if you're there, live. What you can do is you can go to Surveymonkey and tell us which books you're most looking forward to reading and those that are alive get entered into a contest. So what you're learning, then, is what did they like most and you go from there. And then from there we sprung and did a book, a Chino Live book group. And we did a book group with Janine comments talking about American dirt. And we had readers that had totals their questions in advance. And we had them come on to get on stage on our make believe stage and talk about their questions. And we did that again with William Kent Krueger. So it's just from the beginning. Yeah, And from the beginning, what you have let guide you, which I think is genius, are the readers. You're letting the readers guide what you're suggesting, what you're looking at, what you're reading and building a bigger and bigger...

...community because we need it. Okay, last question before we wind it up. Because you have become known as a taste maker. Of course, especially with your book reporter bets on before we close. Do you have an upcoming sleeper novel you really want to bet on and tell our listeners about? I've got to think of a sleeper. I think this one is not really a sleeper. It's We begin at the end by Chris Whitaker. I keep hearing about it crazy about this book. I interviewed Chris for neighbor to the North Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association conference back in September, and I've only read 100 pages because I knew it was gonna be like one of those real quick interviews finished it and those 100 pages. And he was a great interview and I said, You and I are going to talk again And I just knew then that the book was going to be great and that's 100 pages in. And that was back in August when I first read it, and I love the title. We begin at the end. I love the title. Carol, thank you so much for talking to us today. You have been such a blessing and mainstay in the literary community, and we are so grateful for you. Thank you. And thank you for writing books that I have to be able to talk about which I just love. So thank you. Thank you. Have a lovely rest of the day. You too. Now we welcome Robin Call to the podcast. Robin started the site reading with Robin, where she has exclusive book club events, online events, giveaways and author interviews. She is constantly spreading the word of good books to people across the globe. Over the past 16 years, Robin has become a nationally influential member of the literary community. After 10 years of hosting the widely celebrated and beloved talk show Reading With Robin, Robin moved into the 21st century as she launched the reading with Robin podcast. She is on Facebook and Instagram and she ends all her notes and conversations with happy reading. And she gives advice like never leave home without a book. So she is a friends and fiction kind of gal. Hi, Robin. Welcome. That was fabulous. Thank you. I sometimes forget how much we do. You know, all that gets packed into this bookish world we we live in. Well, it's because we live and breathe it. And when we hear it all put together, we're like, Wait. Wow, did we do that? We do that hour by hour, day by day. So I want to start with your origin story. I really want to know why you started reading with Robin. What prompted you to bring so many readers together? I want you to tell us the history. It's a great question because it really does go back quite a way. You know, I was always a reader. I was always the one organizing the book festivals at school. And I was on the board at our local library, the province public library, suggesting authors and, you know, causing trouble at those tables right where I'm like, Can we just pick up a book and do this thing? So I was always very involved in that world because I am a reader, as we all are, first and foremost, and at at the turn of the century, really was. I was there at the turn of the century. I got really addicted to talk radio and started calling into a local show, and I was, Yeah, I was robbing from Providence and I was doing this and really getting into lot of social commentary, things that were happening politically but more in a fun, lighthearted kind of way and became friendly with the talk show host and sort of wheedled my way into the radio station and was a frequent guest and started writing bits for the show. And...

...as I was there and putting all my energy into somebody else's show, I was like, I can do a show. I want to do a show. I can do my own show. I want to do a show. So I pitched. Um, you know, I was Well, what would you want to talk about? And I said, You know, books and reading and the producers there were like, we totally think you could do a show. But are people reading You're going to read books to people we don't? We don't understand. And I was like, Don't worry about it. I got this response exactly. It was a total just trust me moment, and I was friendly with the owner of college bookstores on their street, the Brown University bookstore. And I said, you know, can you just sponsor the show? It's gonna be great. I'm gonna have four chapters. That's all I know. And, uh, and he did. And, uh, the show began in November of 2002, and the idea was to bring authors and readers together. Nothing had been done like that. I was constantly asked, you know what radio show did you model this after? What did you think it was just I just thought I could do it. In fact, I did my first show on November 23rd, 2002 and the week before we were away. And I remember it was business trip. My husband, We had to go. I mean, it was Bermuda or someplace nice. So it wasn't, you know, terrible to have to go. But I remember sitting at the pool like, don't anybody bothered me. I only have four chapters. That's all I know. And I My first show was that Saturday, and to say I didn't sleep the night before would be an understatement. But then I got sort of used to it and had on so many fabulous guests that I would just reach out to, um, Jody PICO was one of my first guest Jen winner, Augusten Burroughs. Tom Karada. Those were all early, early get you started low on the totem pole Exactly, because you need to have some place to aim to aim that arrow and and really? Yeah, of course. Of course I am. And I would and I would buy books and mail them to people. I didn't ask publishers for books at the time. I didn't even think of that, and I didn't really connect with publicists. Maybe until a few, maybe a year or two down the line. It was mostly just reaching out to authors are authors telling their friends who are authors, But I would go to various bookstores and just buy a ton of books and male gives out to people. So it was. It wasn't a business model I would recommend. Nor is it really a business. Um, it is huge passion, but that's that's the origin story. I think. I think I got it all in there. It's fascinating because I said in the introduction that you were prescient in your knowing that readers and authors wanted to come together, and I think that during the pandemic to what we've all been even here, friends and fiction, astounded by is did the intense need for literary community. People want to talk about books they readers want to gather together. Readers want to talk to each other. They want to talk about the book they read, whether they liked it or didn't like it. And you pivoted like the rest of us. And I know you started a weekday instagram segment, along with fantastic crowd cast events that we did with you. So it was awesome. So tell us how that's going. And if you found that people need this community even more or even less now. And what are you doing differently as we've pivoted? Yeah, the pivot pivot. You know, I'm like, That's the dances to three pivot. I know back to those classes. The thing that is really interesting to me is that we're coming up on a year, and I started, Yeah, I know crazy. I started doing this crazy...

...amount of interviewing on Friday, March 13, and it's like, you know how you just remember where you were. Certain days like our last in person event was literally king on Monday, March 9th, and that was like the end of it, and I was really planning. I have a sister who's always encouraging me to do more and reach more people and scale everything scale and scale. And she said, You really should be doing this online because we're doing large scale events in person in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut. Um, but she said, You you've got to reach more readers. You have a Facebook platform that you've been using for years, and you connect with readers from all over who wish they could come to Rhode Island. So bring your events to them. So we really were planning this. Bizarrely. I had to then jump into action because I was getting a little caught up in the details. She was like, Throw the camera on and just start talking to authors and your friends will join in. That was it. So that's what we started doing. And the instagram came over the summer. I decided to add in more, and I started at four o'clock. Tell me about your book and you're on. I don't know when this is airing, but you're on on Monday, Tuesday 16. I don't know when I don't know what day it is anymore, Patty. Anyway, I don't know, does nt It's Thursday. It's called I Love That it is. It's all you know, and it gives you sort of a sense of not feeling so accountable to a calendar as well. But I I get messages all the time from people when we do lives, especially who say we miss your cereal. My daughter and I also do a monthly author series, which remodeled sort of after Franklin Park in Brooklyn. And it's the cardigan connection. So it's a monthly series. We'd have four authors come in every month. Take the stage. It's a bit like, um, you know, just stand up. Improv authors are incredibly fascinating and talented, as you know, and we're celebrating five years in March. So we've we've done the series for five years now. It's online like everything else, and we do get the the community there if I'll take that as an example of friends that would come every month, meet new readers, being intrigued by the authors we had on stage sharing other titles in the audience, asking for, you know, certainly pictures and what are the authors? Favorite books and then chatting in between tables were always like, you know, because the author is speaking, um and we have Brown bookstore comes sell books, so we would be selling books and celebrating them and talking about all the ways that you can buy books and get them to people. So those people I hear from all the time, they're like, when are we going to be doing this again? You know as soon as we can is the answer. But the online community and I see it with friends in fiction and a lot of the other online Facebook groups and the evening events and just wait. Authors pop on. Readers really cannot get enough. And I think that was something people were hungry for. But we didn't know it because we weren't. You know, some people were doing a little bit of that, but not to the extent of what we have now. So I think one day when we have and that, you know, in real life events, people are gonna want to meet each other. So I'm plotting and planning here in New England, you know, and we're coming because we wanted me to I think Oh my God, I can't imagine can finally, all getting to touch each other. I know to give a big hug and talk about books face to face. Wait, How did he know? How did you? Did you have any idea what this would become? Did you When you started out and you were doing it out of passion, did you have any idea how this would grow? And what did you have that goal? Or was it such an organic thing? Because that's how readers are. It was totally organic. It was a passion project. I have a more of a vision now in a goal. When you send your kid to business school and they want to see your spreadsheets, you get a little bit more focus and you get older and you know, you look at the...

...what where you want to be spending your time. So I'm definitely this year has brought so many things to light in terms of time spent and what what feels good and where you want to be and who you want to be with and all of that. So I can't help but really consider some of that. So that has filtered into how I how I share reading with Robin and how I want to spend my time. And you know, all learning how to say no more and and take, you know, make set limits and really be authentic and true to what we can't share everything. We can't have everybody and we can't read everything. So when our readers come to us, they know what they are, you know, hopefully coming to because they like the way you curate. They like the variety and they want to expand a little bit. So what was your question? I think no, I had no idea would become. And I think I think what what happens is because you're doing it from that place and not a This is what I meant it to be. Readers come to trust you. They trust that what you're doing is authentic out of passion. It's not a business model we have. It's definitely not they're not. They're not sharing this in business school. Yeah, my son did go to business squid stern, and he was like at one point, he was like, you know, let me just say it was like just Mom's got it covered. We don't need to discuss any of that stuff. Don't tell your father. So I know you've used Speaking of business model, and I've been part of some of your events to raise money for good causes. Right? You've done an incredible thing in the world during covid. Thank you. Tell me beyond just reading communities what that means to you and to your readers to be able to use it that way. Well, thank you, Patty. I mean, I think that ultimately people want to be able to give and know that they're making a difference and and we know it doesn't have to be a huge amount. I mean, there are people that are doing all of that, right, but but the smaller amounts and, uh, they're meaningful and they add up. And that's, you know, a lot of people doing what they can makes a huge difference. And because this isn't really much of a business model and because we've always been very philanthropic, Lee connected, whether it's breast cancer awareness events which we've done for years, you know where I honor my mother's memory with those literacy projects, and we've been doing a lot of feeding this year because we see all of the food insecurity going on. So whether it's Rhode Island Community Food Bank and we also got connected to no kid hungry, which is a country wide. And so and and they work in tandem as well. So we sort of, you know, through these other connections have made new friends, and, you know, you want to be doing work with organizations who are really getting the food to the people who need to get the food at are in place events. We've collected items such as food or women's products or things that kids need for school backpack, you know, filling backpacks. So those are things we would do in place and collect and, like physically bring somewhere. So we knew that the items were getting to its intended, uh, you know, purpose and people. So I feel really good about the monies that we've raised for all of these events. The event in the fall, the pre pre pub event that was a big fundraiser. And these smaller ones, you know, raise you know, maybe four or $500 an event or whatever. You know, whatever may be more, you know. So it does add up. And we had done a really nice one in June for the NAACP when There was a real focus on celebrating diversity and voice, and I had an event and we raised money, you know, So, like, there's always a way to make a connection. We've done, um, animals, you know, supported animal, um, organizations, the Rhode Island S P C A and Austin pets alive. So things that...

...are important to us, our family, our books are animals. That's awesome. That's pretty much covering it. Yeah, And I believe I always say this that real readers have so much empathy. If you're a big reader, you have empathy. And so the reading community and the ones who read all the time and care about books and gather together they're giving people. So if we step up and say this needs help or that needs help, I mean, it's It's scientifically proven that reading increases your empathy, but we see it in real time. You're absolutely right. Yeah, there's empirical evidence, and there's like what we know. And that's why we say Patty, we say the book people like the book. People just get the book people. I mean, at our in person events in Rhode Island, I've done events where we've had you know most of the bigger events are like 405 106 100 people. There it is Rhode Island. But, you know, I get to know many slash most. And so the event we did with Lilly King it was painful because we weren't hugging anybody. That was hard for me because I'm a hugger. But even when we would have these big events and I would get emails from people who would say, like, my friends, you know, dropped out and I'd be like, Don't worry, it's Rhode Island, and I would like, literally take them to somebody nice. So we're new and I would like and then people would find each other and they couldn't believe they were running into each other at these events. There were book clubs like cheating on each other at our series. One woman she was like, but I was like, Well, you know, why didn't you tell them? You're just going with your other book club? I mean, hysterical. But I would you know, I made it very personal, personal, even with hundreds of people. I don't you know, it's just I've always been a gatherer and connector, and, um, you know, uh, put groups together so people would come to the events alone and have new friends because they were people. You know, um and I like people, and I get such a joy and feel so fulfilled because I'm like, I know and I would work those things into the broadcast. I can see when people are watching, and I'm like, yes, this one like certainty that one's a cat person, just sort of get to know people. Um, one of the things I was going to ask you is what you call yourself, because I've heard you've been called a book pusher and a fairy book godmother. And so I was going to say, How would you describe yourself? And you just did. And it's a good people book, people. Yeah, book. And there there is nothing like, I mean, you know, if you're on all right. So, like, back in the day, you'd be on a plane on a train. I mean, I have told the story many times where I have walked off a plane and into Hudson bookstore, you know, or the train station or whatever the bookstores were, because I'd be in a conversation and you know you're walking and I'm like, Oh, my God, I've done it a few times and I'm like or, you know, you walk on the plane and you see people reading books. One of my new friends from Massachusetts, I was on my last flight that I took before the pandemic. I went to Florida to visit, you know, the family and she was reading a book and I and then we talked the whole way. And we're and we're friends now. I mean, so we're friends, friends. But it was I could just as easily have just been like, No, I don't There was something about her, plus the book she was reading and boom, we were crossing I'll from each other and that was the last flight. Haven't been on a plane since, but yeah, I mean, once you always joked that if there's a friendship scale of 1 to 10 and you find out you're both book lovers, you're you're already ate your like it in eight already. You're right, and and and it goes back to what you said about empathy, because readers, and that's why I have a few people in my life who do not read fiction. I don't know why and I'm like then have at it. You know, when I love nonfiction I read plenty of nonfiction and memoir and creative nonfiction and all of that. But there's just I'm like readers and...

...and fiction and empathy and Conversations and Book Club. It all goes, and as you say, it goes past the books in the reading. So I think that's a beautiful sentiment and that can never have too much empathy. And, uh, we felt connected since the day we met because of it. Exactly. And I want to tell everyone out there that you have a book wreck page on bookshop dot org where you choose books to wait. Where do I have that you have a shop? That or I do. I do. I do So, Kevin, thank you so much for joining me. We are So we have friends and fiction are such big fans of reading with Robin and the good that you're doing. And we're all bringing book clubs communities together. And thank you were grateful for you. Thank you. And hello and goodbye to all the rest of the friends in fiction. I love. I love you guys all. I mean, all been on or you're coming on. And we all have books. And I will see you soon, Patty. And thank you so much for this. This is so much fun. Thank you, Robin. Thank you. Thank you for tuning in. Join us every week on Facebook or YouTube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Eastern time. And please subscribe to our podcast and follow us on Instagram. We're so glad you're here.

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