I mentioned in a previous post that I recently went to a reader’s luncheon. What is a reader’s lunch? It is an opportunity for readers to speak with authors on a personal level, get books signed, and eat with those authors. It is an opportunity for companionship, encouragement, learning, and giving back.
Like writing, reading is mostly a solitary activity. Furthermore, many genres are looked down on as “frivolous”. This attitude is destructive. It can make readers ashamed to admit what they read, it takes an enriching activity and demotes it to a luxury, and it can dampen the pure pleasure of reading. Reader luncheons bring together strangers with a shared passion and they revel in it. They are accepted, they belong, they can be themselves. What a relief for readers!
I am still surprised by just how many readers want to be writers but lack the courage or self-esteem. Most of the doubt comes from within or from past experiences with teachers. At reader luncheons, such aspirations are to be celebrated not condemned. People share their ideas, their methods, their plans, their struggles, and their dreams. And they realize that they are not alone. What a relief for readers who wish to be writers!
I am also surprised by how hungry readers are for the lives of writers. It is as though readers want to live other lives not just inside books but outside books as well. I guess this is why some people find celebrities so fascinating except that most authors are nowhere near as beautiful. While many questions fielded by the writers did have to do with writing, many were more personal in nature. Writers are people like readers – they are readers – but readers seem constantly surprised by that fact.
Reader luncheons are also a way to give back. Authors give to readers by being approachable, answering (almost) any sort of question, recommending new authors in the genre, and offering encouragement and commiseration. Readers give back to writers by offering encouragement, admiration, praise, and interest. Most writers find short supply of these things and most find reader luncheons persoanlly uplifting – as well as a way to promote themselves. I love environments where everyone gives to the group! They give me a warm, happy feeling.