A celebrity-studded BookCon started out with a bang on Saturday morning: The very first panel featured Mindy Kaling in conversation with best friend (not to mention sometimes boyfriend, past co-writer on "The Office" and future co-author of an as-yet-to-be-titled project) B.J. Novak. From the moment the doors opened at 10am, crowds wound through the basement of Manhattan's Javits Center, hoping to snag a coveted entrance bracelet.
Whatever their current relationship status, Kaling and Novak had an easy chemistry throughout the 45-minute discussion, which kept the capacity crowd laughing. Though the two dodged any questions about their upcoming project, which reportedly sold for $7.5 million, Kaling dished plenty on her life, her career and of course, her new book, Why Not Me?, which comes out September 29.
On the differences between her first book and her second
“[For the first book] I was just excited to be writing a book and hope that anyone would read it. . . . I wanted people to like me. The thing with this book is that . . . I wanted people to really know who I was. So I’m incredibly honest and vulnerable in this book. And it’s a little scary, actually. But I think it makes the book funnier.”
Kaling dictates first so that she can strike the conversational tone she’s seeking. “The biggest compliment that I can get about my writing, particularly in essay form, is that it’s like you’re talking to your friend or listening to your friend talk to you.”
“I have found in the past four years that I want a friend, a female friend. It’s much harder to find someone you want to talk to than a man you want to sleep with.”
According to Kaling, her closest local female friends (Lizzy Caplan, Lena Dunham and Ellie Kemper were mentioned) are also busy and successful, so it’s hard to find time to get together. Her goal for the next five years is to “make a good female friend.” Judging by the applause at Javits to that statement and the almost unanimous prefacing of audience questions with “I love you, Mindy,” there’ll be plenty of applicants.
On being a boss
“Surprisingly, I like it a lot.” [laughter] “You get things done the way you want to get things done. But the sad thing is . . . there’s so much fun in a job about complaining about the job. It’s like, that’s 40% of what’s fun about the job. . . . My writing staff is largely comprised of people who were my friends before I hired them to come work on the show, but I do miss that aspect of it. I can’t really sit there and complain about the hours with them, because they’re like, you set the hours.”
To Novak’s question of “What do you say to someone who looks at you and thinks, why not me?” Kaling responded with “Back off, it’s not your time yet, I’m still trying to get this going.”
On a more serious note, she added that people should focus on listening to others and not merely expressing themselves. “I feel like we don’t talk about that a lot, because the only way to show that we’re empowered is by speaking it. . . .'I Feel This and I Should Say This' would be a really popular TV show. Not like, 'I Am Listening and I Understand What You’re Feeling.' Which I think is a little more important.”
On what she has learned from Mindy Lahiri
“Mindy Lahiri has dated more men than I’ve ever met in my life, and I think that it’s been interesting fake-dating so many great guys, because as an actor, when you’re dating someone on screen, a little bit of their actual courtship rituals come to life.”
She also talked about the two sides to the character—accomplished OB-GYN and celeb-stalking girly-girl—and how playing them has helped her accept some of the contrasting facets of her own personality. “It’s been very interesting being able to flip those in the character, and also in the way that it seems like realistic to people’s real lives.” To which Novak added that he has noticed the way that’s changed her: “You’ve become more comfortable being yourself, and being excellent, and not thinking of those two things being in conflict.”
On B.J. Novak
“You’re like the baddest of the good boys. Like at space camp, you’re the kid who goes, wanna smoke weed? And the other kids are like, that guy’s cool.”
“One of the things that makes you such a good best friend is whenever I want to steer into stuff that could get us into trouble . . . you definitely steer us back.” Novak: “It’s a full-time job.”
“My first crush that I can remember, the kind that keeps you up at night, when I was 11 years old, was Dana Carvey,” whom she described as “the Bill Hader of 1992 'SNL.' ” Her Carvey fantasies? “Living next door to my family with him in our house.” To which Novak responded, “Parents love Dana Carvey.”
On dream ‘Mindy Project’ guest stars
Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks and Dave Chapelle.
Golden Globes winning actress, producer, SNL alum, personal role model and hilarious human Amy Poehler has unveiled the cover of her upcoming book, Yes Please. Set to publish on October 28th with It Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, the book will cover topics such as friendships, dating, motherhood and more. It Books says this of Poehler's debut book:
"Her original twist on the conventional memoir will have universal appeal. An illustrated, non-linear diary full of humor and honesty and brimming with true stories, fictional anecdotes and life lessons, the book will be a unique and engaging experience from one of today's most talented and beloved stars."
If it's anything like her good friend Tina Fey's book, Bossy Pants, I will be overjoyed. But the real question is, can it live up to Leslie Knope's book, Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America?
The book is already available for pre-order. Do you think you'll be checking out Yes Please?
Emmy-winning actor, singer, director, producer (and my hero) Neil Patrick Harris is publishing a most unusual (we expect no less) book this October with Crown Publishing.
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography is an autobiography in every way that an autobiography isn't, as readers choose the direction of NPH's life (or is it your own life?), from Broadway to fatherhood and everything in between. Because who wouldn't want to be NPH for a day?
The publisher shares more, because I won't even begin to try to explain this book in my own words:
"Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. ...
Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a guest stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song."
Think you'll join NPH's adventure on October 14?
I'm simply fascinated by the idea of teens writing memoirs. Never mind whether anything interesting has happened to them yet. Are they capable of insightful reflection—and communicating it through the written word? Last year, Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala answered those questions with a resounding yes.
On the opposite end of teen experience is that of Maya Van Wagenen, the bookish 15-year-old whose eighth-grade social experiement is the subject of an utterly charming new memoir, Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek.
Awkward and a self-described "Social Outcast," Maya came across a book that would change her life forever: Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide, originally published in 1951. Betty Cornell was a former teen model in the '50s, and her guide was filled with tips and advice on becoming popular. And so Maya decided that she would follow Cornell's 60-year-old advice—on everything from hair to clothing to "figure problems"—during eighth grade and just see what happened. The results are hilarious and heartwarming.
It's not surprising that, after a publisher bidding war over the book, Hollywood also came knocking, with DreamWorks snatching up the film rights before the book was even published. Something tells me we haven't seen the last of Maya Van Wagenen. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what she does next . . . aside from get her driver's license.
Whether you agree with the current presidential administration or not, odds are you like Michelle Obama; according to Gallup, 65% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the first lady. So, I thought many of you would appreciate a little tidbit I read at the bottom of a recent post on the New York Times' Caucus blog: "According to aides, the first lady is already gathering material for the memoir she will write one day."
Yippee! I know that a memoir written by a first lady is pretty much expected these days, but I won't lie and say I'm not very excited about a book penned by Mrs. O.
Speaking of memoirs written by high-powered women, there are a couple more in the works that might be of interest to women trying to get their foot in the door at work.
Kate White, the soon-to-be-former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, has written a book called I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know. HarperBusiness—who says the book is a "straight-talking new career guide for women"—will release the book on September 18. (By the way, White is also the author of the Bailey Weggins mystery series. Fans of those books should cheer her stepping down from Cosmo; she's leaving to concentrate on writing.)
A week ago, Publishers Marketplace posted the news that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will publish a book with Knopf in 2013. Called Lean In, it is a:
"call to action" on challenges facing women in the workplace, providing what she calls "practical advice for women -- and the men who want to help them -- on how to lean in and close the gap" (via Publishers Marketplace)
Do you enjoy business books and memoirs of how women rose to the top of their careers? Are you interested in Michelle Obama's life story? Of all the many, many political memoirs out there, are there any you think that stand out from the crowd?
Big news for fans of comedy, rock music and women with a story to tell: Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney and recent pop-culture phenomenon "Portlandia" will be publishing a memoir with Riverhead Books. Publicity director Jynne Martin tells us that it will be "a memoir of her life in music, from ardent fan to pioneering female guitarist to comedic performer and luminary of the independent rock world."
No title or release date has been announced, but we'll be sure to share more details when we have them. I saw Brownstein live in Nashville during a stop on the live Portlandia tour (see blurry iPhone photo for proof). The audience was pretty wrapped up in the performance, to the extent of storming the stage when one audience member was invited up during a performance of "Dancing in the Dark."
While you wait for the memoir, check out this fascinating profile of Brownstein and Armistead in the New Yorker. Or watch one of my favorite "Portlandia" clips below.
Recently, Anna Quindlen has been focusing on fiction—but readers are sure to rejoice when they hear that the former Newsweek and New York Times columnist will be chronicling her own life once again this May in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake (Random House).
Marriage, girlfriends, kids, your mother, faith, possessions, solitude, and more—like her other nonfiction and her original New York Times column, “Life in the 30s,” this book gives us the heartfelt, insightful, wise Quindlen, the one who says for us what we wish we could have said ourselves.
One of my favorite documentaries (and movies, period, if you want to know the truth) of the past couple years was The September Issue, the behind-the-scenes story of the September 2007 issue of Vogue.
Even if you aren't particularly interested in fashion, or you don't understand Anna Wintour's fame, I think you'd still be intrigued by the dynamics of the storied magazine—and appreciate the creative process of putting together an 840-page publication.
This is relevant to book lovers because yesterday Publishers Marketplace announced that Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington will write a memoir. The book will be about "her modeling days in Sixties London, the car accident that changed her career path and her ascendancy through fashion's ranks as a stylist and editor at British Vogue and, later, its American counterpart." Random House reportedly paid a whopping $1.2 million for the book. The editor is Susan Kamil, who has worked on such recent BookPage favorites as The Imperfectionists, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.
But back to The September Issue. The eccentric Coddington—who wears all black, has wild red hair and doesn't mind sparring with Wintour to advocate for a spread she's passionate about—completely stole the movie. On YouTube you can watch one of my favorite scenes, of Coddington at Versailles.
I am so excited to read Coddington's story. Which artist or creative person would you like to write a book?
Nearly two years ago, Jaycee Dugard was discovered living in a shed in the backyard of the man who abducted her at the age of 11 and is the father of her two daughters.
Now that her court case against Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy has been settled with a guilty plea, Dugard is telling her own story in a book to be published by Simon & Schuster on July 12 called A Stolen Life.
The public hunger for details about the Dugard case creates even more parallels to Emma Donoghue's bestseller, Room, which was inspired by a similar case in Austria. Hopefully Dugard, who has not spoken publicly or given interviews since her recovery, is prepared for the media onslaught that will doubtless ensue once the book is published.
Are you interested in reading Dugard's memoir?
We were excited enough about interviewing Gabrielle Hamilton for the March issue of BookPage. Now it turns out that the author of Blood, Bones & Butter is also America's Best Chef—at least according to the James Beard Foundation.
If you haven't already read our interview with her, this would be a good time to check it out! Meanwhile, we at BookPage hope to check out Prune the next time we're in NYC.