Thursday, December 20, 2007
On The Shelf with Kathy L. Patrick
Kathy L. Patrick is not your average bookseller,or your average anything for that matter. She's not only the owner of one of the most unique business ventures in the world,Beauty and the Book,a beauty parlor/book shop,she is the proud founder of the Pulpwood Queens,one of the biggest book clubs around.
The Pulpwood Queens' fame has lead them to being featured on Good Morning America,as the first book club to set off their Read This! campaign,and on Oprah,along with a number of major newspapers and magazines the world over. How the Queens got their start in Jefferson,Texas,is one of dozens of tales told in the upcoming Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing,Book Sharing Guide to Life written by the Head Queen herself,Kathy. I was most fortunate to get an audience with Her Majesty and ask her a few of my queries:
1) If you were forced to only have one business-beauty parlor or bookstore-which one would it be?
You would have to pin me down and make me scream "Uncle!", but hands down, it would be bookstore. Books saved me and I am on a mission to promote literacy so bookstore would be my choice. But the reader must also know that I would probably not be able to be in business long as the beauty shop is what supports my bookselling efforts. There is more money in hair than there is in books. A woman can check out a book from the library but she can't just check out a good haircut and color. That's why both make such a nice balance, actually marriage. This is a marriage for life because one cannot succeed without the other. There is beauty in books and books in beauty. You can quote me on that.
2) How can a person find out if they're good Pulpwood Queen or Timber Guy material?
My answer is can that person read? Then they are an excellent candidate. It's just that simple, all I ask is that you read each month's book club selection. It's mandatory, oh, and wear a tiara!
3)What are some of your favorite reading selections from the Pulpwood Queens' Book Club?
All of them and that is why I insisted all Pulpwood Queen Book Club Selections be listed in my book from inception up to my book's debut. I also have to say that I read a lot more than just the books I hand select for my book club. I am a very eclectic reader and some of the books are on obscure subjects, literary, or are, some would put it, strange. I read to live and live to read. I love all of my books that I select or I would not have very carefully and thoughtfully chosen them.
4)What advice would you give to someone looking for a way to liven up their usual book club meetings?
Serve liquor, ha ha ha! I am joking with you here but not really. I have found that a little wine makes people more comfortable on speaking up and out about their beliefs and feelings on a book. One of the biggest book events I ever did was for a man that wrote a very unusual book on the timeline of wine. We had a wine tasting and I finally got out the water hose to chase everybody out of my shop. Nobody wanted to go home and it was a school night. What was I thinking! So helpful reminder, keep it simple with a glass of wine or two. Don't bring out the keg!
5)There's been alot of concern lately about the shrinking amount of book coverage/reviews in newspapers across the country. How serious a probelm do you think this is and what can be done about it?
My feeling on this is that newspapers are in trouble, not just the book review page. More and more people are going online to read the news and more and more people are going online to read about books. To me as long as we have a place, whether newspaper or laptop or otherwise to read about books, people will want go to that source. But I will speak out and tell you that I signed the petition to bring back the book page and editor to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, it was the one place I went to to read about books.
6)How do you go about choosing a book that is just right for a Pulpwood Queens' monthly selection?
I have set up criteria for my book clubs selections:
1) They must be well written
2) They must give a new voice to literature that has not been heard from before.
3) I prefer to select books that are by yet undiscovered authors. The Pulpwood Queens know that in reading an author's book, that alone will help them get the numbers boost on book sales. I also like to select authors that may have been known in other professions too. I have found that authors are sometimes dismissed as authors if they are famous for something else. When I asked Paulina Porizkova, author of "A Model Summer" if she was going on book tour and she told me she was not.
Because she is famous as a supermodel, it was felt that would sell her books alone. I disagree, I think you have to work even harder to publicize someone who has climbed out of the proverbial box. I thoroughly enjoy and take great satisfaction in knowing we are helping Paulina Porizkova, the author. "Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover" is a chapter in my book and Paulina Porizkova could be the spokesmodel for that chapter. She not only has written a great book, I do believe that if every woman and their daughter read this book, we could change the face of fashion today. I always say, "Don't judge a book by it's cover,unless it really is a book then read it first!
I can only select twelve books a year and though hard, the ones that I select I believe are the ones that could be the next "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." And why wouldn't I believe that? Look at the success of some of past Pulpwood Queen Book Club Selection Authors:
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Cane River by Lalita Tademy
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Eat, Pray, Love by Elisabeth Gilbert
7) What are some of your favorite books of all time?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is my lodestar. Favorite book and favorite film, both are perfection for me and I read the book once or twice a year and watch the film too. As far as favorite books today, I look to authors bodies of work, Pat Conroy, Tennessee Williams, Cassandra King,Doug Marlette, Mark Childress, Ellen Gilchrist, Christopher Cook, oh I could go on and on and on... I also love to read any biography or autobiography of practically anybody.
In my youth I loved the Tarzan books. They were my absolute favorites and have read them all. You should see my Tarzan collection of books,comic books, posters, and dolls! They are all housed in my own personal jungle of an office along with my Elvis memorabilia and leopard print collection. When I say I live in a house of books, I'm not kidding,floor to ceiling, everywhere, and I have more in my house than at my shop, Beauty and the Book.
I have told my two teenage girls, now 17 and 13, "After I am gone, if you want to know who your mother really was as a person, read my library". These are the books that are a reflection of my life at 7,10, 14, 20, 30, 40 and now 51. My library is a mirror of what I found important in my life. I have built a house of books and now I am on a mission to get everybody reading, one book, one author, one person, and one book club at a time.
Thank you Kathy,for giving me some of your valuable time during this busy holiday season and I hope that the reign of the Pulpwood Queens is long and prosperous,with plenty of good times and good reading.
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