Author and journalist Anna Quindlen will visit West Hartford, on Oct. 19, to discuss her works as the feature event of West Hartford READS, the town-wide reading initiative hosted by the West Hartford Libraries.
This is the second West Hartford READS of 2017, an event which in the past has been held in the spring. The event's move to October, which will become permanent going forward, was a strategic one.
"We used to do this always in April for National Library Week," said Martha Church, the director of libraries in West Hartford. "National Library Week often coincides the major spring holidays and school vacation week. And we have another new signature event in late March. So, staff is overloaded with trying to do both. This made more sense for a number of reasons."
Quindlen's visit, which Church is excited about, caps off book discussions about her work that started in July. The talk, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the town hall, is the main event.
"We've been having book discussions all through the summer about her works," Church said. "So a lot of people in town have now read a lot of Anna Quindlen, if they hadn't already done so. We try to build it up so by the time she comes, it's like she's a good friend of ours. We've lived with her characters. It will be exciting and we have a lot of interest."
The tradition of inviting popular authors to West Hartford isn't a new one, Church said. In the past, they've featured Jonathan Franzen, Amy Bloom, and Ralph Nader. What is fairly new is the rebranding and refocusing of the annual event.
West Hartford READS, Church said, instead focuses on an author and their career, rather than their most recently released work.
"In the past, we looked at somebody who had a major work that was recently published and we focused on them talking on that one work," Church said. "With West Hartford READS, we announce it fairly early so we are able to read the author's many different works and give people the opportunity to discuss and think about it so when the author comes, everybody has had a chance to see what makes them special."
With Quindlen, Church is excited to hear about how she develops her characters and her stories.
"What makes her exceptionally strong is that she's not only an author, she's a journalist and a social critic," Church said. "People have been familiar with her over the course of her very long and well-known career. She's somebody that speaks in a common voice. Her characters in her novels are so real and vibrant. She's very good at nailing the human spirit and human condition."
Church said those wanting to attend the talk, and are hoping to get a seat rather than stand, should arrive early. The doors to the town hall auditorium will open at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Those large crowds, Church said, have become standard practice at these events, and she said it's because of how much West Hartford enjoys reading.
"That's the community of West Hartford," Church said. "It's always been a community that reads. People are enthusiastic readers. They are good, strong library users. The interest in things literary and in authors of this caliber is there."