Read My Book! Please!

Me and Benicio Del Toro
A gratuitous picture of me and Benicio Del Toro after I interviewed him about the movie “Traffic” in 2001 for Amazon

I’ve had just enough of an odd background that celeb sightings don’t make me weak at the knees. Growing up in Miami Beach, star-spotting was not uncommon. At film school, I had an internship on a Ken Burns documentary and Academy Award-winners teaching my classes and holding Q&As for students. When I worked at Amazon, I interviewed celebs pretty regularly, mostly on the phone (Harrison Ford, Woody Allen, and–my favorite–Jennifer Saunders), although occasionally in person (Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, and the king of TaeBo, Billy Blanks).

Yet my celebrity dreams aren’t so different from Louise’s. The idea of a celebrity reading my book makes my heart skip a beat, because it’s a powerful way to spread word of a book. If Mindy Kaling Instagrams your novel or Lena Dunham mentions it on Twitter or Reese Witherspoon picks it for her book club, your book has a much better shot at being read by others. Plus, how cool would it be to have a photo of your favorite celebs (hello, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer!) with their noses in your book?

But having celebs read my book just because they are celebs doesn’t excite me. It’s having anyone read my book that sends shivers up my spine. Now that my novel is out there for reviewers, I feel a bubbling nervous happy buzz when I notice a “currently reading” status on Goodreads or a blogger writes about MODERN GIRLS. Honestly, if anyone sent me a picture of someone reading my book (or Instagramed it or Tweeted it or Pinned it), I’d be over-the-moon.

The reason writers write is to be read. This might sound warped, but when my previous book was on submission (the one that didn’t sell), I still felt a thrill at the idea that people I didn’t know—the editors busy rejecting me—were reading the words I wrote. Three years I spent writing MODERN GIRLS. Dottie and Rose are real people to me, old friends that I can’t wait for others to meet. And the only way for others to get to know them is to read the book.

So who do I want to read MODERN GIRLS? The list is as long as my arm: the aforementioned women, Gloria Steinem, Michelle Obama, Amy Schumer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who should of course then lend the book to Sonia Sotomayor), Selena Gomez (because if she reads it, then my daughter will be more likely to read it), Dwayne Johnson (okay, it’s not that I want to see him reading my book; it’s that I want to see him doing anything), Mayim Bialik, Emma Watson, Betty White, Cecile Richards, Alison Bechdel (and it passes the Bechdel Test; lots of scenes with two women talking, not about men), Maggie Smith, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Weiner, Octavia Butler, Colm Tóibín, my kindergarten teacher, the boy I beat up in 2nd grade, Mrs. Dubois who encouraged my stories in the 5th grade, that guy I met in Atlanta when I was driving cross country at the age of 26, my grad school advisors, everyone on the kibbutz on which I volunteered, all the cousins I’ve discovered while doing genealogy, the baristas at my Starbucks, the cable guy, every parent at my daughter’s elementary school (the teachers, too, for that matter), the entire state of Washington, folks in the Northern Hemisphere, and just to be fair, everyone in the Southern Hemisphere too.

Do I want celebrity readers for me book? Of course I do. Because I want everyone to read my book. Including you.

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Jennifer S. Brown is the author of MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin). The novel, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Learn more at www.jennifersbrown.com.

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Author: Jennifer S. Brown

Jennifer S. Brown is the author of MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin). The novel, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Learn more at www.jennifersbrown.com.

4 Replies to “Read My Book! Please!”

  1. I’ll be reading it as soon as I can get my hands on a copy, of course, but I would read it a second time if Benicio wanted to come by and have me read it aloud to him.

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