by Tif Sweeney
The literary scene in Saint Louis was hopping on Saturday, July 14. At Saint Louis County Library, acclaimed author Chris Cleave was featured (see our write up for this event). Immediately following that event, readers could cross Kirkwood Road to see another bestseller, but very different author, Jennifer Weiner. Left Bank Books and Saks Fifth Avenue partnered for local charity, Dress for Success, allocating a portion of all sales from the evening to the cause. Dress for Success is an organization that assists people in finding work and educating them on financial literacy. Weiner provided the entertainment while the crowd mingled, nibbled on hors d’ouevres, and savored the delicious cupcakes provided by a local favorite.
Before Weiner could be introduced, she was raving about the support she had from our very own local Left Bank Books when her debut novel, Good in Bed, was released. Years later, now a bestseller, she returns with her tenth novel, The Next Best Thing.
In her novels, she writes from her own experiences, whether it may be from her mother’s lack of fashion sense to being “the curvy girl.” The Next Best Thing is no exception. Weiner’s main character takes on the Hollywood scene, sharing the struggles of writing a television series and all the drama that comes with it – something that Weiner has become very familiar with through her own experiences writing and producing the recent “State of Georgia” for ABC Family and starring Raven-Symone. Unfortunately, Weiner’s show was cancelled after only eleven episodes, but she may have gotten another bestseller on the fiction list thanks to her personal adventures.
Much of the question and answer session focused on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette,” shows of which Weiner is an avid fan. I won’t get into the details here, but I will share Weiner’s advice: “A mother’s only duty is to keep her daughter off ‘The Bachelor!’”
Weiner also talked writing. Personally, she writes 3-4 hours per day in busy coffee shops. (She used to work in a newsroom, preferring to be surrounded by people and noise.) She typically starts with an outline for her stories, but often veers away from it. As for the aspiring writers, she primarily advises them to be persistent, but shares additional tips and recommendations on her website, For Writers.
The event was filled with literary chatter, television and Hollywood gossip, and a classy atmosphere. Weiner was friendly with her fans, yet often brutally honest, and sometimes her jokes did not quite meet the mark with the audience. However, the numbers don’t lie and her writing hits the target again and again, frequently landing on the bestseller list because of her ability to relate. For this reason, The Next Best Thing and many of her other novels will be on summer reading lists everywhere.
Wondering what is on Weiner’s summer reading list? Check out her list below:
- These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen
- Off the Menu by Stacey Balles
- Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicole Krauss
- The Underside of Joy by Sere Prince Halverson
- I Couldn’t Love You More by Jillian Medoff
- You Take It From Here by Pamela Ribon
For more information on the author and her books, check out the Jennifer Weiner website. You can also subscribe to her blog, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.