Twice a year, the Random House offices in NYC host an Open House, where for one glorious day, readers meet some of the biggest names in publishing, listen to authors speak and get their books signed. I went to my first Open House on Friday, a recommendation by a friend who knew I would love it. And I certainly did.
The beginning of the day starts with breakfast and a tote bag full of free stuff. I missed the breakfast, of course, because I couldn’t make the earlier train (which is one good reason I don’t work in NYC). When I arrived, Tom Brokaw, the first speaker, was already in a closed session, talking about his new book, A Lucky Life Interrupted. I walked into the empty reception room where I was warmly greeted and handed my tote bag.
While I stared, well, ogled really, at the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves of all of the books published by Random House, I snuck a peek into my bag and found four books and a gorgeous scarf from Talbots. What?! I could have gone home happy at that point alone.
A very nice employee found me and snuck me into Mr. Brokaw’s session so I caught the last several minutes. He was quite interesting, as expected, having lived the life he did, and I learned that he was recently diagnosed with cancer, which is what his book is about. His book is not even out yet.
After a short break, where most of us shuffled back into the main area to grab a cup of coffee, tea, or water (available the entire day), we all returned to the main session room where Jodi Piccoult, her daughter, Samantha Van Leer, and their editor, spoke to us about their second collaborative YA book called Off The Page and answered questions.
I happened to be first in line for their book signing, thanks to my allergies and an uncontrollable dry, hacking cough, which forced me walk out of the assembly minutes before they finished speaking. I’ve been to other Jodi P speaking engagements. She’s always genuinely happy to meet her readers and her daughter seems great, too. Guess what? They’re both lefties. Like me. I pointed this out, thinking it could be the start of a bonding point for us should we ever find ourselves together on some book tour (dream big). I’d say something like, Hey, remember me? The other lefty from Random House?
Lunch followed. We had a few choices of food, provided by Dean & DeLuca. I had the ham and gruyere cheese on pretzel bread. It came with salad and a blondie. Win! I was pleasantly surprised to see a high school classmate and we caught up very briefly during lunch because she’s the coordinator of these events and couldn’t chat long. Talk about an amazing job. Well done, Susan!
Late into lunch, I learned I was missing two breakout sessions. One was about tidying up your life, in which I had no interest. The other was to speak with the publishing team of Outlander.
Yes, you read that right. I snuck in to catch the last several minutes of a conversation about working with Diana. In short, Diana Gabaldon is a genius.
After lunch, Adam Rosante promoted his book The 30-Second Body, by having the audience (mostly comprised of women – about 150 of us, if I estimated correctly) do some “quick, easy workouts near our seats”. My least favorite part of the day. I had just eaten. Moving was the last thing I wanted to do.
We met two authors next. NYT bestseller Annie Barrows, who was promoting her new book, The Truth According to Us and a new author, Julia Pierpont with her title, Among The Ten Thousand Things. They were both there with their editors and, as with the earlier sessions, I enjoyed learning about their writing processes and their editor’s point of views.
The last author to speak was Emily Giffin, who is so popular and has a bunch of commercially successful books out. Did you see Something Borrowed with Kate Hudson? Emily wrote that book. The One & Only is her latest. I found Emily to be very personable, outgoing and funny. She was a pleasure to listen to, went over her writing practices, and I learned she had no formal training to write. Unfortunately, her book wasn’t included in the freebie bag, but was available to buy. I didn’t, for the simple reason my tote was already too heavy.
This turned out to be a good decision because during cocktail hour (I know, it doesn’t stop!), there were piles of another free book, All The Bright Places, right in the middle of the apps table. I took one along with a piece of zucchini bread. Check out the cupcakes below. I had three.
When I finally left the building at nearly five o’clock, I was laden with my heavy tote, filled with new treasures and the memory of a wonderful day. All for $60. A dream day for a reader. If you get a chance, get to one of these Open Houses.
I’ll see you there.