Thursday, November 15, 2007

University of Connecticut

Last week, I was offered a free book by a bookstore. Any book in the store. Mine for the taking. Mwah-ha-ha!

How did this come about? I'll explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is marry Humperdinck in a little less than half an hour. So all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the princess, make our escape...

Sorry, sorry -- couldn't resist. The real story is that last week, I was a guest speaker at the University of Connecticut. Leigh Grossman (author, president of Swordsmith Productions, adjunct professor at UConn, and all-around nice guy) invited me to speak to two of his classes (Expository Writing and Fantasy Literature). Afterwards, I did a reading/signing at the UConn Co-op Bookstore.

I'd never taught a college class before. Very different from talking to elementary and middle school kids. For one thing, they're taller. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. For the Expository Writing class, I critiqued two of the students' writing samples. For the Fantasy Lit class... I babbled. The topic was fairy tales. I like fairy tales. The poor students had to sit through me retelling the Juniper Tree (one of them asked me what my least favorite fairy tale was) and through my wild-eyed pronouncements about why fantasy literature is the most important kind of literature in the universe and why every novel should have at least one talking cat... I had fun. And no one bolted out the door with panic in their eyes, so I think I did fine. (Of course, I was pretty much blocking the exit route...)

After the classes, I did my event at the Co-op bookstore. The Co-op knows how to do events right. They had a fabulous and huge sign for me, and a lovely centralized event location with a podium and microphone for the reading and a comfy chair and table for the signing. When I finished, they told me it's their policy to give all writers who do events there a choice of any book they want from the entire store.

I love that policy.

I immediately set off on combing through all the aisles, dragging poor Leigh with me. Three laps later and one trip upstairs to textbooks, I was in a state of near panic. Free book! But which book? What if I chose wrong? What if I regretted my choice forever and ever? Yes, my friends, faced with the offer of a free book, I was desperate not to blow it. I wanted them all, all, ALL!

In the end, I settled on a gorgeous annotated volume of Hans Christian Andersen tales, edited by Maria Tatar.

But now I'm curious... What would you have chosen? Given the choice of any book in the store, how would you have decided which one to get?

Oh, and by the way, this weekend I'm off to the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) convention in New York City. If any of you are going to be there, and you see me wandering around, lost and confused, please come over and say hi!

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At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being set lose in a university bookstore? It would be hard to decide! Probably some variety of some expensive textbook on a research subject that interested me ...

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Janni: Yeah, that's what led me to the annotated Andersen... I wanted something research-related. Plus it's a pretty book. :)

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Madison said...

How would I have decided...I couldn't. I'd probably end up flipping a coin, trying to narrow down a stack of books that reached the ceiling, though a book of fairy tales sounds lovely. :D

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Anidori-isilee: Next time I'm definitely bringing a coin...


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