I miss living in the South. As a writer and reader, and yes, human being, one of the things I loved most is the hospitality that seems to be a life code for those who were born there or had migrated and stayed. Now don’t get me wrong, hospitality exists everywhere, but there is just something about the book affairs that I’ve attended there that were simmering with charm.
I’ve met many authors south of the Mason-Dixon line and those memories are very dear to me. I especially recall book talks and signings in the solariums of fine hotels and drawing rooms of historic estates. The guest tables laden with crisp white linens, a stage for towers of petite fours, delicate tea sandwiches, porcelain teacups, and hours of conversation and camaraderie around the author’s works.
And so, it goes for book affairs that are evening events. Often authors held court in wine cellars or secluded dining rooms, which set the ambiance for readings from a best-selling mystery or suspense.
While I know these intimate and well-appointed events occur nationwide, I’ve only found my author connections at conferences and bookstores since I’ve moved north. While I treasure and enjoy each opportunity to either give a talk in these settings or listen to a retailed author present at one, I long for the book affairs of the past.
But I must sing the praises of the North—the Library System of Chicago and the Northern Suburbs—for encouraging their member facilities to really go all out for book events. And trust me they do; from romantic decor to children’s fairylands and even scavenger hunts that set the mood for intrigue.
I long for more opportunities to see an author hosted in a setting that reflects their genre or creates an atmosphere that embodies the mood their spirit and words portray. Perhaps you are an author and have been the featured guest at such an event, or a reader who has had the good fortune to attend a book affair not hosted in a sterile break room, but rather in a setting that stimulates the senses and transports you into the author’s world.
These book affairs are a rare but treasured experience. I long to see more. Do share. What Southern, Northern, Western, or regional book affair will you always remember?