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Friday, September 2, 2011

Addicted

I quit soda a few days ago.  It’s only been 48 hours so it’s too soon to predict if or when I’ll cave and go back to my habit of rotating Coke, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer and Celery Soda.  Sure, soda isn’t booze, cigarettes, drugs or gambling.  It won’t kill you or wreck your family.  But it’s an unhealthy, unnecessary habit that I’ve chosen to seize control of. But don’t touch my daily dose of Starbucks coffee or chocolate – no one’s a saint, after all.

Big deal, so I quit soda, right?  Like all addictions, many people replace them with some other addiction or likely fall back to their addicted substance in a way that seems like they are making up for lost time.

I want to win this time.  I want to know that no matter what I can exhibit discipline and self-control over something.  Maybe, just maybe, I can then build on this and begin to make other sustainable life improvements.  I’m battling a noteworthy opponent in myself.  I always find a way to excel and pursue what I want. How will I defeat a tidal wave of cravings soon?  How will I say no to myself in a way that is a yes to something better?  How will I not allow my soda sobriety to not consume me?

I am also battling Corporate America and its amazing ability to market, sell, and advertise stuff. It’s a fierce lobby, with lots of resources.  But I don’t think the constant prompts and reminders for me to drink soda really influence me. Otherwise I would switch brands or consume more than I used to. But soda is everywhere – in people’s homes, at events, in vending machines, at the supermarket, at work – and it calls me. It wants to be consumed. Oh, soda is so needy!

I wish books could be marketed and advertised in a way that people are addicted to them! Maybe if the next best-seller can be packaged with a six-pack of soda we’ll see a boost in sales for both soda and books.

We’re all addicted to something, often multiple things, in varying degrees of destructiveness.  Subconsciously or not, we look for ways to avoid pain, escape losses, repel negatives, and dilute injuries.  We all look for happiness, however we define it.  We spend as much time to “not be in pain” than to “pursue enjoyable experiences.”  A simple pleasure like soda, cheap and readily available, gives us instant gratification in a world that often challenges us.

If you’re contemplating quitting something that is not healthy for you – physically or mentally – I urge you to do it.  You’re not alone.  You will gain so much by losing the thing that really takes more than it gives.

Interview with TheBookClubCookbook’s Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, are cooks, book enthusiasts and friends. Seeking to combine their passion for books, food, and book clubs, they met over stacks of books and endless cups of coffee at a local sandwich shop, where The Book Club Cookbook was born. They were motivated to write their second book, The Kids’ Book Club Book, after librarians, parents, and teachers who attended their talks asked for a similar book for the growing number of youth book clubs across the country. Their latest book, Table of Contents, features book related recipes from fifty of today’s most popular authors. The Bostonites shared their thoughts below:

1.      What is the BookClubCookbook.com? BookClubCookBook.com is a website that provides inspiration for book clubs, including book recommendations from book groups around the country, author recipes, book giveaways, author blogs, and newsletters.

We founded BookClubCookBook.com after our book, The Book Club Cookbook (Penguin, 2004), the first cookbook designed for book clubs, was published. (The revised edition will be published in 2012.)  Our discussions with book club members and authors revealed how much book clubs and authors wished to connect, and we established the website as a means of bringing the two together. Visitors can find book recommendations from book clubs and new recipes from popular authors paired with books, enter to win books in giveaways, and read a guest author blog by a just-published writer. Our Buzzing About Books newsletter, featuring new releases, allows authors to communicate with readers through a Reader Letter and provides other pertinent information about the book.

The featured books on our websites do not necessarily have a culinary tie-in: the goal of our site is to connect readers with the best fiction and non-fiction titles for book clubs.  However, we’ve found that readers have a fascination with food in the pages of a book, and often wonder about the origins of and story behind food references. Our recipe pages include introductions that explain the connection between the author’s recipe and work. This month, we added Ellen Feldman’s recipe for Victory Fish, paired with her new book set during World War II, Next to Love, and Melanie Rehak’s recipe for Bread Pudding paired with Eating for Beginners. 

To read these authors’ – and many others’- insights into their recipes and work, visit our Authors’ Recipe Pages.

2.       How will book clubs like yours save publishing? To clarify, BookClubCookBook.com is not a “book club” that offers discounts on books.  Our website is a resource for book clubs, and a meeting place for authors and readers that  generates interest in and excitement about books. Through our newsletters, giveaways and book recommendations we inspire book clubs to sample authors they might not otherwise read.  One reader recently wrote, “I just love your Book Buzz [newsletter].  I want to read every book you preview!”

Our author recipes also inspire both readers and authors!  Authors are often eager to share tales of favorite recipes from childhood that made their way into the pages of their books, and readers savor these stories.  Readers have told us that they have read books after becoming fascinated with the food angle shared by the author on our website, or in our books.

3.       What do you love about being a part of the book publishing industry? We’ve had the opportunity to work with authors, readers and publishers – all of whom  enjoy words and ideas. What could be better? We’re delighted to help authors promote their work and connect with book club members. It’s been a privilege to work with many authors over the past decade, through our websites and books. (We have also co-authored The Kids’ Book Club Book and Table of Contents). There’s a tremendous feeling of satisfaction when a book club member writes to tell us how much they admired a book they discovered in one of our books, or received through our giveaways.  We correspond with book club members every day and it’s thrilling to learn about their groups and what they’re reading and cooking.

As authors, book festivals are among our favorite places to present, because we meet a wide spectrum of people devoted to books:  fellow authors with fascinating stories to tell, publishers, agents, and readers eager to learn what’s new in the book world.  As cookbook authors, we have spoken and done cooking demonstrations at food festivals; we treasure the cooking techniques and food tips we’ve learned from other cookbook authors.   The book publishing industry is always changing and introducing something new, and we love being a part of it. 

4.  Where do you see the industry heading? That’s a broad question, but we can tell you that the popularity of book discussion groups continues to soar. Publishers and authors have increasingly reached out to book clubs – an acknowledgement of their impact on book sales and in popularizing certain titles.  Also, the growth of youth book clubs in the past decade means that there is a next generation that has been introduced to this idea, and we’ve found that many children who participate in parent child book clubs go on to participate in book clubs as adults.

5.       What should authors do to promote and sell their books? Create a presence on the Internet.  Before creating a website or blog, visit and read other authors’ websites and blogs. Find the elements that you might want to include. Keep the information fresh. Connect with readers: Offer to chat with book clubs by phone or on Skype. Create a blog, and see if you can also guest blog on others’ websites.  Use social media. Along with Facebook and Twitter, create an Amazon profile and use sites for readers such as Goodreads. Update your website. Do online book giveaways and/or blog tours. 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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