Marjan Kamali on Visiting the Homes of Her Readers

Refuge, Gossip, and Revelation on the Private Book Club Circuit

Marjan Kamali on Visiting the Homes of Her Readers

By Marjan Kamali

Imagine being a fly on the wall for gatherings where friends who’ve known each other for years share intimate details about love, loss, and the longings of their lives. Imagine being invited into the homes of complete strangers to share a meal and discuss politics, religion, and other matters of the heart. It might seem impossible or even unpalatable to some. But that is exactly what authors do when they accept an invitation to visit a private book club. And if their novel, like mine, is about first love and how the past is always haunting us, what ends up happening at these visits is often magical, occasionally uncomfortable, and always edifying.

Book clubs have become ubiquitous in the lives of many Americans. All across the country, groups gather on a regular basis (usually monthly) to discuss a specific book. An ongoing trend is for authors to make themselves available to visit, whether by showing up in person if the club is local or via Skype and FaceTime if it is further away. For my first novel, Together Tea, I visited 39 book groups. For my new novel, The Stationery Shop, which came out last summer, I have visited 26 groups so far. Read the full essay at Literary Hub.

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