Three Questions for Kathy Patrick
From her headquarters at Beauty and the Book (the world’s only hair salon and bookstore) in the piney woods of East Texas, Kathy Patrick has created a powerhouse network of book clubs known as the Pulpwood Queens. There are now 400 chapters in the US and ten foreign countries, making it, as Kathy proudly notes, “the largest meeting and discussing” book club in the world. Their motto: Where tiaras are mandatory and reading good books is the rule! Including, of course, Kathy’s book, The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life.
When we spoke, Kathy was still recovering from last week’s 11th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend, Author Extravaganza and Book Club Convention. Tiara wearing Pulpwood Queens from across the country had made their way to Jefferson, Texas to meet and mingle with the impressive list of authors lucky enough to have garnered an invitation to Girlfriend Weekend. There was a Silent Auction (with brisk bidding for a signed pair of Pat Conroy’s famous khaki pants) that raised money for three local charities, including the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, an Author Talent Show (Fannie Flagg entered with her bird calls) and the always much anticipated "Great Big Ball of Hair" Ball (the Pulpwood Queen BB Queens of Jackson, Mississippi won in the Girl Group Costume category). Anyone ever had that much fun at BEA?
So what’s on the February reading list for the Pulpwood Queens?
Because we all need a good laugh during the month of Valentine's Day, the Main Selection is Fannie Flagg’s I Still Dream About You. This is one dark comedy and even though the main character is on a mission to kill herself, it’s funny and a real page turner! The Bonus Selections (for voracious readers) are The Perfect Love Song by Pulpwood Queen favorite Patti Callahan Henry, The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan -- she’s one of my favorite writers and her stories are magical and mystical which is just what we need to start our year -- and Cheap Cabernet by Cathie Beck. My charter book club, The Pulpwood Queens of East Texas, is even planning a girlfriend chocolate and wine book club meeting at a local winery when we discuss Cathie’s book.
People often mistakenly assume that the Pulpwood Queens only read light Southern chick lit, but you feel strongly that it’s important to also select books like Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
People tend to get lazy when it comes to reading. They find an author they like and then they just read everything they’ve written. I like to take them out of the comfort zone so they can see the wealth of stories out there and to expand their worlds. It's like Atticus Fitch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. " That’s pretty much what happens when you read a book; you get to walk around in someone else's shoes for a while. The more we understand, the more we except people who are different from us and the more we get along. We are "beauty within" queens because we are readers and we are all for "WORLD PEACE!".
For anyone who loves reading but is not in a book group -- what are they missing?
They’re missing something as important to life as the air we breathe, the food and water that sustains us and shelter from life's storms. They’re missing the stories that make us human. Life is about our relationships with others, not objects or things. Nothing connects us more than stories and there’s no better way to share those stories than through the reading of books with others.