Friday, September 9, 2011

Adventures by the Book

By Susan McBeth

How often have you read a book that swept you away to exotic places and times of which you've only dared to dream? I like to think of these alternate realities as "heterocosms," a term coined by Harold Bloom perhaps when referring to brilliant poets like Shakespeare and Wordsworth, but which for me describes a world that otherwise would not have been accessible without the magic of a good book. And if the magic of language can figuratively transport a reader, what would happen if a literal transport were available? That's the concept I sought to explore when I recently founded Adventures by the Book.

After having been a bookstore author events coordinator for years, I was bursting at the seams to escape from the confines inherent in a retail environment, so that I could create the kind of experiential events that would seek to connect readers with authors and their books on a more intimate basis than through a traditional lecture format. I confess I had, and still have, visions of grandeur about what those events would entail - grand trips to Tuscany, weekend escapes to the magical world of Tiffany, and cultural luncheons in exotic venues, just to name a few. But what all those books taught me is that if I dare to dream, oh what magical worlds are open to me.

My Adventures by the Book world was created from a seed that was planted years ago when I first met the beloved New York Times bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes. How many thousands of readers were exposed to the magical world of Tuscany through her lyrical prose, and how many, like me, had never experienced an actual adventure under the Tuscan sun? When I mentioned this to Frances, she replied in her typical thoughtful fashion that I should come to visit her there. Perhaps if she would have known me better, she would have never extended that gracious offer, because I vowed then and there that someday I would make that happen.

So when the stars were perfectly aligned and I was ready to make the move, I left my bookstore job and set out to literally transport readers on a series of Adventures by the Book. It probably won't come as a surprise that the first author I contacted was Frances Mayes. If she had no recollection of our discussion years prior, she never let on, not did she display panic when I led with the dreaded "remember when you told me years ago..." conversation opener. Months of planning and research ensued, and I am honored to say that I have now experienced an Adventure Under the Tuscan Sun with Frances Mayes, both figuratively and literally. And I can honestly say that while there is no substitute for a good book when the figurative world is all that is available, if you want the whole enchilada, so to speak, there is nothing like an Adventure by the Book.

8 comments: said...

I admire you, Susan, for going after your dream and making it a reality. And for avid readers and book lovers such as me, you're also making our wishes come true with great events with authors and books. Good for you! said...

Such an exciting way to make books come alive for readers who love them. Thanks for making it possible for us!

Margaret said...

You have created an awesome program for both readers and writers!

I love UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. That you got to go do that is the coolest thing ever! said...

Dear Susan,

You definitely described a feeling I have had so often when reading a book I love, if only I could walk the streets, breathe the air, eat the food I have been reading about! How wonderful that you are making this become a reality for yourself and others!

M. Louisa Locke
author of Maids of Misfortune: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery.

Deborah Batterman said...

You're so right -- books take us places. Why not turn the metaphor on its head? I look forward to more of your 'adventures'.

San Diego Momma said...

What an amazing concept!
I know the feeling of reading an excellent book and wanting to teleport to the time and place of the story.
And you made it real.
I love it.

Marjorie Hart said...

Love this new dimension--when books become real!

Kim LePiane said...

It is great to read about your process and how you brought your dream into reality! Thank you for sharing your story with all of us, and for bringing books to life!

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