Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Club Exchange: Mary Kay Andrews & Giveaway

I am extremely excited about today's guest blogger for Book Club Exchange -- it's Mary Kay Andrews. She's the author of many terrific books that I've read and loved including THE FIXER UPPER which is now available in paperback. I thought THE FIXER UPPER was so fun, and you can read my review here.

I just adore Ms. Andrews' guest post and I think you will too. I have a feeling that many of you who are members of a book club will certainly relate to it! She captures many of my feelings and I'm anxious to hear if she shares yours.

Opening Books—And Minds

A real letter I recently received:

Hi! I'm just starting a book club and I chose your book "Hissy Fit" to kick us off. I read about you in Southern Living, and I can't wait to get started!

One of the gals in my book club is rather prudish, and so I need to take care in the book I choose. I've not ready any of your other books so I don't know your style yet. I've read only the first chapter of Hissy Fit and and it's pretty racy - according to my friend's standards.


My question is: does the rest of this book run along the same lines? Or, is this it and it "calms down" a bit, so I can still recommend this book?

I was a little surprised when I got this query, and more than a little conflicted about how to answer it. My books are commercial fiction—meant to be fun beach reads with characters my readers can root for and stories they can relate to. I certainly don’t ever intend to offend, and in my own mind, my subject matter is rarely controversial.

Still. My protagonists are modern adult women. Sometimes, they use “racy” language. Sometimes, they engage in intimate—but always, committed, relationships. I want my fictional characters to be realistic and believable, not cardboard cutouts ready for sainthood. So the women of an MKA story get knocked down and betrayed. They lose jobs and husbands and lovers. Their families are complicated, nutty, dysfunctional. They make mistakes. They fall for rotten men and make terrible decisions. Sometimes, when they’re really provoked, they even drop “the F-bomb.” But in the end, because I believe in happy endings, the women in my books manage to pick themselves up and figure out how to reinvent themselves. Salvation! Redemption. A hot new love interest! Or at least a cool new place to live.

I don’t believe my books are smutty. But then, I don’t find language inherently objectionable, or offensive or obscene. What I find obscene is casual, gratuitous violence—towards women, children, animals, minorities, anybody or anything who can’t defend themselves. I find discrimination and intolerance offensive. But that’s just me.


I happen to be a member of two different book clubs in two different states. And what I love about my book clubs is the opportunity to be exposed to books and authors I never would have read on my own. I love that we come together to discuss books and ideas, and that we get educated and entertained all in the short span of the life of one book. Sometimes, the books we choose are ones I don’t care for. (See Eat, Pray, Love and Mrs. Dalloway.) So I don’t read them, or I start, but don’t finish them. Or I show up at book club ready to rail against that month’s pick.

Book clubs, to me, are not just about getting together and sipping wine and exchanging gossip. Although my clubs do a lot of that. Ultimately, the members of our clubs share our ideas, our attitudes, and our belief systems, all through the discussion of whatever book we’re reading that month. It doesn’t happen every month, or with every selection, but in the best of all worlds, we manage to open books and minds. And we have fun doing it, hopefully while respecting each other’s sensibilities.

So…what about you and your book club? Do you deliberately choose books meant to expand horizons and attitudes? Do you ever self-censor? Has a member of your book group ever felt so strongly about a book that she refused to read it, or threatened to quit? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic—and suggestions for how to answer such a question the next time it arises.

*****
Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of HISSY FIT, SAVANNAH BREEZE, DEEP DISH and THE FIXER UPPER. She loves discussing her books with book clubs—either in person or through phone chats. You can find her at www.MaryKayAndrews.com, and on Facebook.

GIVEAWAY ALERT: I am very excited that Tandem Literary has graciously offered to giveaway one copy of THE FIXER UPPER to one lucky Booking Mama reader. To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment with an email address telling me if you've ever read a Mary Kay Andrews' book. (If not, shame on you!) This contest is open until July 20th at 11:59 p.m., and I will notify the randomly-selected winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. mailing addresses only -- no p.o. boxes please. Good luck!

AND NOW FOR A BIGGER GIVEAWAY ALERT!: For a chance to win this beach-themed basket of goodies, write to meg@marykayandrews.com. In a short e-mail message tell MKA the most memorable experience you’ve had with your book club. Be sure to put BOOK CLUB BEACH BASKET in the subject field. MKA will share a collection of the best entries on her blog, choose her favorite entry, and ship the goods to the lucky winner. Good luck!

I am so grateful to Ms. Andrews for sharing this fabulous guest post with us. Make sure you also check out her terrific book club contest and enter to win! If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.

39 comments:

bermudaonion said...

When my club picked a book I was not interested in at all, I thought about not reading it, but realized that would be missing the whole point of being in a book club - to expand my horizons. Great guest post!

Linda said...

Enjoyed reading this guest post. Some time ago I read Savannah Blues by MKA, enjoyed it, and am ready for another fun read. Thanks for the giveaway.
lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I never have read one, but after reading this post, I see I need to remedy that!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Serena said...

My book club tends to stick to books that appeal to both men and women because our husbands are in it...getting them to read has been difficult.

But YA dystopian seems to be their thing.

Not sure that I would say the book club expands my horizons...I would love one like that though.

Meredith said...

Shame on me, I haven't read one! I'd be very happy to read this one though!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Karo said...

I love her books! I've read Hissy Fit, Savannah Blues, and my favorite--Savannah Breeze. I've been meaning to get Fixer Upper for a while but swore I'd finish my current to-read pile before I bought any more. :)

Stacie said...

I haven't read any of Andrews' books but I think I better get on that! Thanks for the giveaway! Staciele(at)netins(dot)net

Sandy Jay said...

I've never read anything by this author but it looks as though I'll be adding them to my wishlist now. Please enter me in the drawing.

forwhlz at gmail dot com

Mary (BookHounds) said...

no need to enter me!
I posted this for you at win a book.

http://winabook.westofmars.com/2010/07/07/the-fixer-upper-by-mary-kay-andrews/

Karen said...

Yes, shame on me for never having read a book by Mary Kay. I'm hoping to change that——by winning! ;D

kzupancic[at]yahoo[dot]com

Melissa T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amused said...

I've never read one of her books but I've had this one on my wish list for awhile now!

amusedbybooks@gmail.com

ChristyJan said...

Shamefully, I've never read a Mary Kay Andrews book ~ I'd love to though. ;)

hawkes(at)citlink.net

Jennifer Dennard said...

I have enjoyed all of Mary Kay Andrews' books, and am really looking forward to reading The Fixer Upper. I had the pleasure of interviewing her last year for an article for Atlanta Woman magazine, which, sadly, is no more. I enjoyed the profile of her Tybee beach house in last month's Better Home & Gardens.

Jennifer Dennard
jennwheeler2001@yahoo.com

Paula said...

I have read all of Mary Kay Andrews' books and I LOVE them! I even found the ones she wrote under another name and read all those too :)

Tore said...

I have never read a Mary Kay book but I am very interested in reading one. Please enter me in contest. Thank you. Tore923@aol.com

Beth F said...

I have a couple of Andrews's books here in audio. I'll have to make a better effort to actually listen to them! :). Like Kathy, I am willing to give any book club pick a shot. I might not finish or love the book, but I am willing to try.

Michele said...

Sounds like something I'd enjoy. Great guest post! Thanks!

Michele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa T said...

I have not read her books yet, but I am very interested!

hofmeis14@yahoo.com

Journey2Goal said...

I haven't read one of her books...but I'd LOVE to!!!!
ajreinecke(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tea said...

I think once you read her books you have to love Mary Kay Andrews. Her books are delightfully funny.

teakettle58(at)yahoo(dot)com

karenk said...

no, i haven't read any of mary kay's books (yet!!)... thanks for the chance to read this one :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Laura said...

I am sorry to say that I have not read any of Mary Kay Andrews's books yet. I would like to very much though. Thanks for the contest.

Laura.Adams@ky.gov

holdenj said...

I loved Savannah Breeze and Little Bitty Lies. Thanks for sharing the guest post with us!
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Cheryl F. {The Lucky Ladybug} said...

I haven't read Mary Kay Andrews books yet, but I'd love to :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!
theluckyladybug[at]gmail[dot]com

PoCoKat said...

I have not read any of Mary Kay Andrew's books but would love to start.

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

Sarah E said...

I've never read a Mary Kay Andrews book before. Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

ruthiekb72 said...

Deep Dish was great!

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I have to sheepishly admit I have not read a Mary Kay Andrews book and seeing this wonderful post here- I am ashamed. :)

Please enter me for the chance to redeem myself because this book sounds wonderful!

journey through books @ gmail.com

Margie said...

I haven't read one of her books, but I think I would like them.
Thanks for the giveaway.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Theresa N. said...

I read Savannah Breeze and feel in love with it. Wonderful writer!!
Theresa N
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

Misusedinnocence said...

I've never read anything by her before, but I would like too! =)

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Liza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liza said...

I have read every single Mary Kay Andrews book there is, some of them three times. I love "Blue Christmas" and "Savannah Breeze". I'm reading "Deep Dish" right now for the second time. I have also read all of her Truman Kicklighter mysteries and almost all of the Callahan Garrity mysteries. I love all her books whether under Mary Kay Andrews or Kathy Hogan Trocheck.

guckett@yahoo.com

jenna said...

Unfortunately, I have never read a Mary Kay Andrews book! I plan on it!

alackofcolor703 at yahoo dot com

Darcie K. said...

I have not yet had the pleasure of reading a Mary Kay Andrews book, but I am definitely looking forward to it.
dmkayes@gmail.com

rubynreba said...

I haven't read any of her books. She does sound like a great author and I do want to read her books.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

CherylS22 said...

Mary Kay Andrews is a new author for me. Thanks for the chance to read one of her books!
megalon22 at yahoo dot com