The Joy of Author Readings

Last week I went to two separate author readings: Addie Zierman read from her beautiful spiritual memoir, When We Were On Fire, on Tuesday evening at Northwestern University; and Rainbow Rowell read a short bit from her 1980s teen love story, Eleanor & Park, on Wednesday at the Harriet Island Pavilion.

I love hearing from authors. It’s great to hear an author’s work in their own voice. I still remember hearing Wendell Berry read from Jayber Crow during college and just being blown away. That was a book  I had to read.

Author readings are also great events because they’re free. It’s not like you can get that deal with your favorite band. I’m not big on autographs and needing to meet authors, but that can be fun as well. And if you’re looking to meet women, apparently author events are the place to go. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong books, but the gender balance was way off. That makes sense for a teen love story, but I felt a bit like the old skeezy guy (sticking around for an autograph would not have helped that issue either).

Addie Zierman
When We Were On Fire is a spiritual memoir about growing up as a teen in the “on fire” Christian fervor of 1990s and fighting depression and alcoholism as a twenty-something. I could relate to her early years and the saga in her 20s was heartbreaking and captivating. Hearing her read at Northwestern University, the Christian school she attended in the book, was also interesting. It set the reading in the same environment as the book, which was potentially awkward. Though I think much like my own alma mater, Bethel, there’s a lot more room for differing views.

Addie answered questions mostly about writing and it was good to hear how a mother of two finds the time to write (mostly she gets up at 4 a.m.).

Rainbow Rowell
I was initially interested in Eleanor & Park because it had been banned for profanity by a Twin Cities school district, which is just ridiculous. But strangely enough the reading barely touched on that controversy. Rainbow read a very brief excerpt and then spent a long time just answering questions. She’s funny, boisterous and full of insights, so it made for a fun evening.

I couldn’t help tweeting throughout the event:

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