February 17, 2018

Sarah Jessica Parker Kicks Off Book Club Central

SJP logoSarah Jessica Parker will sprinkle some stardust on the American Library Association (ALA) Annual meeting this year. The television and film actor/producer and library supporter is serving as Honorary Chair of ALA’s new global digital online platform, Book Club Central. Parker will reveal Book Club Central’s inaugural pick at its official launch during the President’s Program at ALA, Saturday, June 24, 3:30 p.m. at McCormick Place West in Chicago.

As soon as LJ heard this news, we arranged a phone interview with Parker to talk about this and her new adventures in publishing as editorial director of a new Crown: Hogarth imprint, SJP for Hogarth. Though she wouldn’t divulge the Book Club Central pick, Parker was willing to talk about the process of choosing it. “[We’re] reading books right now, and it’s exciting to see how many authors are producing really beautiful, bold stories, global stories,” she said, adding that titles that “cultivate empathy” also shape the decisions. “It’s not unlike the framework for the imprint,” Parker said. “We’re looking at global voices, and equally taken in by nonfiction, voices from near and far.”

Hogarth head Molly Stern met Parker several years ago; Parker had fallen in love with Anthony Marra’s novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which Stern edited. The two women started a book club of their own friends and acquaintances, and when Stern approached Parker in 2016 about helming her own imprint, Parker readily agreed.

Eager readers will have to wait a bit for the SJP for Hogarth books. “Our website is up [www.sjpforhogarth.com],” she said. The site has a listing of Parker and Stern’s book club picks—Marukami, Tartt, Franzen, etc. Currently she and several staffers are “reading madly,” and Parker is learning the publishing ropes. “They’ve been telling me not to be impatient,” she said of her colleagues. “It’s an endeavor to find that first book. I look at it differently, not like a line editor, but…as an audience.” SJP for Hogarth will publish three or four novels a year, and Parker will be involved in all parts of the process, from selection and acquisition to cover design and promotion.

Parker’s association with Hogarth/Random House led to her partnership with ALA. “They have a wonderful relationship with libraries,” she said. “Libraries are the most important places, and as funding dwindles, I worry.” LJ spoke with Parker shortly after President Trump’s proposed budget cuts were announced, and she expressed “grave concerns about arts and humanities funding.” Parker and her family (husband Matthew Broderick, their teenage son, and eight-year-old daughters) are frequenters of Jefferson Market Library, in New York’s West Village, and the Amagansett Public Library on Long Island, where they have a summer home. “They have incredible librarians,” she said. “It’s the programming that is so important.”

When she’s not reading scripts, manuscripts for the imprint, or potential Book Club Central picks, Parker finds time to read for pleasure, usually selecting literary fiction. Her latest is George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo, which she confided she plans on wrapping up and giving to Broderick for his birthday (shh, don’t tell!). Additionally, she reads aloud to her twins, most recently Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. “It’s a hefty book,” she said, and written as Burnett’s characters spoke—“So we have to learn the Yorkshire dialect!”

Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email: efrench@mediasourceinc.com, Twitter: @lizefrench

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  1. Cheryl Paine says:

    Am I able to send a book for Ms Parker to read and possibly use for reading in her bookclub? This is a new authors first release and is selling very well. Please advise. And possible address to mail the book. Thank you so much.

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