The Funniest Thing About Book Stores

By Brian Rock

The funniest thing about book store readings is that they’re so unpredictable. At one reading I had forty kids show up at a store where they usually get less than ten per reading. The community relations rep was so busy running around looking for extra seating that she forgot to introduce me! At another store I only had three children show up because no one at the store put up any in-store promotion in advance of the reading. So always remember to help promote your own readings!

But the most unpredictable (and therefore funniest) thing about readings is the children in the audience. At my very first reading, I was so excited to share my magnum opus (my poetry collection, Don’t Play With Your Food!) with the world. I had just finished reading my first poem, TV Dinner. To my delight, most of the audience was laughing in response to the poem. But before I could soak in the joy of that moment, one little four-year-old in the front row blurted out, “That’s not funny!”

Of course the adults in attendance roared with laughter. I had just been upstaged! Like a comedian dealing with a heckler, I had to think quickly. So gesturing to the little boy, I said, “My first critic. I feel so validated!” The adults laughed again, my front row critic was confused and quieted, and the rest of the reading went on without a hitch. So remember when you plan your readings, expect the unexpected (and prepare to be humbled!)


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