tv Panel Discussion on Favorite Books and Reading Habits CSPAN November 19, 2016 10:00am-10:46am EST
good morning, everyone. it is truly my pleasure to welcome you to miami book fair. it is a lovely saturday morning in miami. what a wonderful fair it has been all week long and here we are at the street fair. i would like to offer appreciation to our sponsors without whom this book fair would not be taking place. we have the knight foundation, hl, bachelor foundation, the group foundation and so many more sponsors. i would like to pay thanks to miami-dade college for convening this book fair. let's give a round of applause. and so many students, faculty and staff have given up their time all week long and throughout this weekend to volunteer to make sure this fair is a success.
let me see the hands of all of our outstanding friends of the book fair. thank you so much. [applause] >> for your support of miami book fair and if anyone would like to join the circle of friends you may do so today, please let us know. a wonderful day planned for you. i ask cell phones and other devices so we can all enjoy, and autograph table right across on the other side of the hall across from the elevator where you can have your books autographed, and also have a short q&a period where you will be able to ask questions of the authors and i ask you to just stand at the standing mike, pose your questions and go back to your speech and we will have a great flow.
without further a do i would like to introduce our moderator for the program, none other than pamela paul, editor of the new york times book review. having previously served as feature editor and children's book editor she is the author of the starter marriage and the future of matrimony. she edited the collection by the book writers on literature and the literary life from the new york times book review. pamela paul has been a contributor to time magazine and columnist, her work has appeared in the atlantic, the washington post, the economist among many other venues. pamela paul has been a guest on oprah, many of you have seen her, and good morning america, the today show, the early show, i could go on and on and on. she also speaks frequently on
national public radio in pr and testified about her work before congress and presented her research to parliament and is a frequent public speaker at university conferences, other venues such as miami book fair. she is joined by dave barry, terry mcmillan, jay mcirnerny and maria semple. please tell me welcome, you are getting very excited, please help me welcome pamela paul and the panelists. [applause] >> is this on? hello. this is not on. is this on? okay. hi, i am not going to bother
introducing these people because they need no introduction and i want to get right to it. this panel is different from the other panels, going to this week or this weekend because we are not going to be talking about what we write but what we read because who we are is so often forged by what we read and what we read shapes who we are. what we read doesn't influence what we write so we will talk about books that inspire us, terrify us, inform us, entertain us and allow us to escape. let me start with the question i often started a conversation with which is what are you reading? we start with jay mcirnerny. >> i have just finished the book on the plane down here, was very impressed with.
>> mine isn't working. >> hello, hello, hello. >> is that better? all right. so sorry. just finished a book that i enjoyed on the plane down from new york. forgive me if i am behind, but when i was finishing my own latest novel i stopped reading contemporary fiction for a while. that was emma klein's the girls, really wonderful and i am sure most of you read it 6 or 8 months ago, just a very impressive first novel, set in the 60s long before she was born. it is a fictional fictional re-creation of the manson murders although what i found most interesting about it was the exploration of adolescent
female psychology. >> why do you avoid reading contemporary fiction when writing on a book? >> i am always afraid -- i'm a bit of a mimic and always afraid i will inadvertently steal something. >> if you read tolstoy it is okay? >> if i steal something from tolstoy, i am going to be happy with that result. especially the beginning and end of the novel writing process i tend to switch gears to nonfiction which is not my usual diet. >> on your long trip to miami -- >> a lot of time to read in traffic.
i was terrified by what the panel was. and immerse myself in crap, and always afraid, reading marcel proust, not sure how to say proust. and discovered him late, charles portis, was true grit, i am sad because he only wrote five books, the masters of atlantis, dog of the south, and one of the funniest writers i ever read, he is still alive, not doing well but he is the most deadpan humor
writer i ever read, and never know when he is being funny and it gets funnier and funnier. i love this guy, sorry i am not doing well because i want him to write more books. >> one of the things i like about charles portis is he uses a lot of exclamation points, we are told not to use them because i feel he has given me permission to use exclamation points, not a good habit to have. i stopped reading because i left the book on the plane. couldn't read it last night but started reading meg abbott, what is her last book? i am on book tour, traveling for a couple months, i tried to read
short books, and a genre book, a really smart writer in that deal, like i am still waiting for that page turning, literate mystery book that i will then read nothing but that author for the rest of my life but i haven't found it yet. i have to buy another one, but so far that is good but wanted a divergent. kind of something to read on airplanes -- >> you flew in -- can you hear me? >> i can.
>> i started reading imagine be gone and i can't think of his name. >> adam hazlitt. >> brilliant. i am working on a new novel and the tone is completely different. started reading a mother's same thing and i just got the new henry award, short stories, i love reading short stories, i go in intensely and i can come out and that is what i am reading. i am influenced. i was writing something a long time ago, and you know i do not do that. >> this is going to be my one semi-political question, there has been a lot of talk about it.
but was there anything that immediately after the election you thought i want to read this? >> i left a book at the airport that i was reading. since the election i have been rereading fiji woodhouse because whenever something really depressing happens that is what i turn to, one of the greatest stylists in the english language, one of the greatest comic writers after dave barry. i sort of feel i have wrestled with depression in my life and somehow i feel e.g. woodhouse is almost as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants in relieving a sense of despair so i have been digging into that
ever since -- >> we have been listening to music really loud in my house. i am not kidding. that is what we have been doing. >> that is too rational for me, as a response, to reach for a book. i'm not there yet. >> i have been reading tweets. and writing a lot of them. i'm thinking i will have to sneak back to 100 years of solitude. >> this panel derives from by the book, a weekly column that runs in the book review where i ascot his and other public figures about their use of questions about their reading life, hillary clinton has done one and one of the questions i
asked was what would you recommend the president read? whether you are pro-trump or anti-trump, i don't know what i will do with that question. i will move way back in time to think about childhood reading, do you remember what book it is that made your reader the first book you read and you thought this is what i love. a comic book. >> i will set aside mad magazine, i read a ton of those. the one, the book got me going, when i read on my news this is what i want, not even what i want to read but what i want to do, my dad was a huge benchley fan and had all his collections and i discovered him when i was 9 or 10 and they were so wrong,
really funny but in a silly way. the idea illiterate grown-up was writing this silly, willing to change topics in the middle of a sentence struck me as so wonderful and liberating. i always wanted -- still want to write like robert benchley. i have all his books and still read them. >> you anticipated my next question, which book made you a writer. you liked the first question, which book made you a reader? >> my first job at 14. i get lost in the stacks but also i would hide in the dumbwaiter, i like the 900, my memory -- >> she knows the dewey decimal system.
>> i started medicare, joining silver sneakers, and turned 65. going to cbs to help you with your memory. at any rate -- >> what book made you a reader? >> i will put it this way. james baldwin. when i saw his book on the bookshelf, bless you. it was the first book i have seen by an african-american writer and his big old popeyes were staring out at me and i didn't read him right away, didn't read him for a few years
but he was the one. i realized you could write the way black people talk, back when i remember it, and biographies to be honest with you. >> amelia ehrhardt. >> that was my favorite. i thought what an idiot she was. i thought she was brave but also that helped me. >> there were not many women biographies you could find. there was amelia, louisa, abigail, clarence, that was it. what book made you a reader? >> i really liked, a book that
comes up a lot, harriet the spy. that was one of my favorite books because it was realistic fiction which i always liked, i tried to lion the witch and the wardrobe and the hobbit and those things that my sister was into but i was never into those, i like the realistic fiction and there was a sadness within me that harriet the spy spoke to, a loneliness, being on the outside looking at -- looking in but would take great pleasure in solitude and struggling with being an introvert perhaps, there was something that spoke to me. it was a fun story. i have a picture of harriet the spy by my writing table, that is what i do. that is what i'm doing even as
an adult. >> not sure which came first. i was a fan of the hardy boys and i read all of them. the first reading i did that was slightly serious, jack london, the white fang and call of the wild, was mesmerized. i read most of what i laid my hands on. the first writer that made me want to be a writer was dylan thomas, and subsequently the homes i sought out in my school library, absolutely dazzled me. first time i considered that
language itself was not just a medium of storytelling. how old were you? >> he is reading -- i was reading mad magazine. how old were you? >> i was reading that. >> how old were you? >> 13. >> now we all look bad. this is a question, two questions writers and people who work in the field of books hate the most, when is what should i read? immediately you draw a blank and the other, who does your favorite writer a favorite writers and even when you pluralize, it is terrifying, to be mean and really want to know i will ask that. let's start with dave barry, your favorite writers. >> i like jay mcirnerny. maria semple.
dave barry. amy chan. my contemporaries. >> you can do contemporary or people who are long dead. >> too many people that i like. >> who do you love? you know you will run out and get their book. the people you love, every time they write a book you will run out and get that book. >> morrison. so many new writers that i like. >> you talk about other people. >> you want me to say who i don't like? >> to the dead people. >> i will get in trouble.
>> who do you love? >> contemporary people, they had a book coming out, i would get very excited, i love jennifer egan, one of my favorite books, that is my favorite book of hers and goon squad is fabulous and what is jennifer egan doing? looking at a book right now, don't know what is going to be, jumps around or something, that excites me. if i heard ben lerner had a new book coming out i would be excited. i love edward saint alban, somebody i recommend a lot. i like zinc, but haven't read the last two books, didn't she have two books come out on one day, that is crazy.
i did buy them, i love her. and that as well. >> as family dysfunction. >> i love family dysfunction novels and the spinster novel, not nearly enough spinster novels being written. >> i forgot to say elizabeth strout. >> another new book coming out again. what is your favorite spinster novel? >> barbara pym, ordinary women, is that what it is called or extraordinary? excellent women. my friend jamie has a new book coming out in the spring which i love which is a modern-day spinster novel but it is
spinster's getting a lot of sex which is to me not the point of the spinster. a modern tank on the spinster novel but very cool. >> what is the age of that? >> after you can't have children. in the old days it was when you were too old to be married. it is like you haven't been married off basically and in jane austen's time it was in your 20s and probably when you are too old to have kids, i am thinking. >> whose book? >> it is marcel proust for me. is a question that makes me nervous. who is the guy, i am older than
you. he wrote high fidelity. i love the fat guy. anything he writes i want to read. i got to throw out my friend carl heisman. [applause] >> and nora f run. the books i really got into the deepest were master and commander, patrick o'brien, that guy was unbelievable. >> he wrote a lot of books. >> finally find another you know you will like, they went on forever and ever. i don't know how he wrote all these, i loved all those and
marcel proust. >> who are your favorite writers? they can be did too. >> i hate this game a lot because i end up offending my writer friends. contemporary writers to english writers, and awful lot, julian barnes is somebody, ian mcewan, i will read anything those guys right. as for my favorite authors, jane austen, two favorites. >> this is a question that stumped -- a few years ago we were arguing over a book and one
of our members asked penetrating questions, why do you read? everyone was just dumbfounded. we couldn't think of the answer. we took some time but i won't give you that much time. why you read? is it to escape? learn something? and crystallize, you have an answer? >> i read because it stops me from worrying about my own problems and i get to worry about other people who are not real. >> when you did it by the book i asked if you read self-help because it wasn't necessary because everything was self-help. >> a really good story, a novel. to me it catapults me out of my own little space.
i realize other people have issues and problems they are dealing with that are deeper than mine sometimes, but also i prefer worrying about other people. real or not real. >> maria. >> i read to be entertained and surprised. i love entering this other world that i never know what to expect and what is going to happen and it is active entertainment, not passive. because i am a writer i am seeing how they do it and that moment stop trying to think how they do it because you release into this other world they created and i find it really fun and engaging and there is nothing that i enjoy more than
being in that space. beyond that, i do find that i have compassion for things that i am surprised by. how did i get so compassionate about that? i read about a similar character in a book. it gave me a little handle on how someone else would live. that is an extra thing, i go through the world with a greater perspective because of a book i read 20 years ago or something so i carry that around with me but it is for the pleasure, the pure selfish pleasure of reading. >> the world buys into people who answer and that kind of thing, to be transported, forget, get away, people who answer they read a writer for sentence by sentence, lamanna sentence level which is the opposite of being transported because you are focusing so much on the writing itself, being taken away by the writing.
>> for fiction i agree with both of those answers, a way to receive a concentrated intelligence, you know how hard it is to write sentences, how much thought goes into a sentence when a thought was spoken aloud. you get lots of smart into your head. nonfiction is not escapism so i don't read it for that huge change i think now that i read as terry does to get outside of myself, my own relatively narrow world of my own problems but thinking back to why i read as a kid, desperately wanted to learn how to be. i wanted to piece together and identity and it was a struggle. i read arthur's like hemingway
and ian fleming and jack kerouac and jp dunlevy because i was trying to forge an identity for myself and it came down to what should i drink? >> going to be james bond? >> i passed foreign service, could be a spy, but i was trying to put together an identity for myself and i think that was my initial compulsion. >> can i say one thing? i also love ring lardner. anybody heard of bring lardner? i love ring lardner. when you ask who influenced me, they gave me permission to use
humor and to see how serious it can the. the commentary it makes on our lives and how you get through stuff through you. >> i know that was deep. >> but funny. how do you decide what to read next other than the new york times book review from cover to cover? >> that is it. >> do you have a trusted person you always listen to or do you go by word-of-mouth? >> michelle kaufman is in the audience, a voracious reader and capable of single-handedly making books into bestsellers by making everybody she knows read the book. the kite runner meant nothing until michelle discovered it and i saw this woman walk into bookstores and make everybody in the bookstore by it even if they already owned it, owned by more
of the kite runner and the guy wrote the kite runner wanted to push him, but anyway. >> a combination of things, word of mouth. i read a lot and talk about books a lot and you have friends always reading and the new york times book review or any book review going fast, i definitely rely on the new york times, three or four times you need to hear about something, and i like to go into bookstores and ask booksellers what they love. there have been wonderful books i never heard of, if somebody didn't say this was my favorite, so getting lucky that way too.
>> new york times book review. i think i am fortunate to live in new york city. a lot of my friends are in publishing. i hear about stuff before it gets published but i also find out i do the have been in book tour the last two or three months and i found i spend a lot of time in independent bookstores doing readings and bookstore owners, extraordinary resource, they always have been. that is one of the greatest resources. >> do you plan it out or is a mood at the moment? how do you decide what to read? be changed independent
bookstores, amazon, i can buy a house with what i'm spending on. i buy what -- i live in pasadena and there's a wonderful bookstore called borman's and they have readers, editors, the people who work there are really smart readers and it is a great bookstore and they put all the new fiction and separate it, they also have comments on all the new books coming out and you read a little comic and you think i need another basket. i am serious, really smart and you get a chance to look at the book and i love discovering new writers, people i haven't read
in centuries, or just never read. that is why my house is full of books i haven't read. >> i will ask one more question and turn it over to audience members, we have a hard end. imagine your life as a novel. who would you want, imagine your life as a novel, who would you want to write that. i am ending with an easy one. >> pg wouldhouse. >> or you had to get someone to write a serious biography, who would it be, giving you two choices. >> i feel like our sensibilities are similar. i met her recently and feel we are the same person. and man at the helm, she is
british, funny and i feel like -- i could write one of her books for her i might be able to and she might be able to write one of my books for me. we could do a literary con. >> i would say elizabeth strauss because she knows how to go into all the different corners and discover things you don't even know about self, that is how i felt about her characters. but also i don't think my life would be all that interesting. might make a short story. >> you have a biography or novel, what you take? >> if i could choose a
biographer, one of the great journalists, a man of letters, george plimpton, close friend of mine, in the paris review, i would give anything to have george come back. >> i want to turn over to audience members, ask a question. >> great question tatian, my question is do you have any advice positive or negative for a lifelong reader and book lover whose dream is to open an independent bookstore? >> make a lot of money first. >> just had lunch with a woman,
a lawyer and architect, decided to start a bookstore in orlando called writer spot, she started it two years ago and had a three year lease, made no money at all, her husband is helping fund it. she voted for clinton, he voted for trump, and she was debating, will keep going but 0 financial, not taking -- is breaking even which is good enough for her but will keep it going but the main thing is if you don't really love it, you are nuts to do it because you won't make money doing it. mitchell kaplan owns half of miami now. we don't know how he is doing it. there may be drugs involved
somewhere. >> next question. >> you asked -- the answer to that, can you give advice to anybody else about that? >> this 800 number given to you after you join the author's guild and you dial in, stephen king gap sensor was albany, new york. >> the question is where do you get your ideas from? that is hard. >> i did a newspaper interview where every single question involved inspiration which i couldn't believe, i've never been asked so many different questions. that is hard to say, my life and
observations, you never know what will spark. they just pop up, that is not a satisfying answer. >> i write about what is pissing me off right now, seriously. doesn't have to me personally, but i write mostly about things people do that i wish they didn't do or that i wish they did more of so there are a lot of books there. >> you have a lot to write about. be change not many years left to do it. >> don't say that. >> what is the difference to you, to listen to a book on tape, hold a book, or kindle?
you get a new novel -- >> hardcover. >> not even a paperback, >> marcel perused -- marcel proust. >> i hate you. >> my question, i hate to read which is unusual here. >> we don't care if you read the books or not as long as you buy them. and i have done that many times. i can have a nice retirement accounts but i love ideas and love hearing people talk about ideas but i was never a good reader whatever that means. i wonder if anyone has a recommendation for a book for me to read.
>> if you are not going to read it, buy my book. which, someone raised the question. what did you do the day after the election? what did you think? i only have a comment. i think the congress has an amendment to the constitution that anybody running for office needs to read the constitution first. that was my answer. >> pick up that cell phone. what did you want to read?
>> first i need to learn how to read color that would help. >> there is a guy, a fellow new yorker recently elected president. a friend of mine wrote a book about him and told me all the books in the house are fine, leather bound binding with nothing behind them. the first would be reading almost anything which >> 9 was when they get questioned, swear to upholding the constitution. >> we have time for one more question. no more questions? no more questions. we will end on that. thank you so much to all of the authors. [applause]