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Not that I’ve ever had a baby, but I can only imagine that this entire book process is a lot like being pregnant. When the book first sold, over a year ago, I waited a little bit, until I was sure it was true, before telling absolutely everyone. Then people called to check on the book, to see what I’d named it, to find out what it was going to look like, and to ask if I was excited.

Then people kept calling to ask, “Is it out yet?” Everyone was happy, everyone was proud.

I cut all my hair off in a crazy frenzy because I didn’t know what else to do with myself.

Now it has arrived, and I’m exhausted. I’ve got a cold that won’t go away and I’m answering phone calls and email all day from proud, happy people.

And the best is that people keep going to visit the book. Stee went to a Borders all by himself yesterday (he had to double back around on the street) just to see what it looked like at that store.

I went to the Grove Barnes and Noble on Saturday to visit the book and offer to sign their stock. There it was: right up front. Right when you walked in. Sitting next to The Corrections. I took one up to the counter and asked if she’d like me to sign them. They found a Sharpie and some “Autographed Copy” stickers.

As I was signing, a girl walked up and asked, “Is that your book?” I said it was. “Can I see one?” she asked. I handed one over and continued signing the others. She glanced at the back, glanced at the front, flipped through the pages like reading a flip-book comic and then handed it back to me. “Thanks. Good luck!” She walked away.

I’m such a salesman!

After signing that stack the woman at the counter told me there were more upstairs. I went to the third floor and found another stack of books on the section titled… “Favorite Paperbacks!” There it was nestled beside Good in Bed and Me Talk Pretty One Day. But I didn’t run right up to the book because as I approached the table I saw a nine-year old girl silently reading the back of my book.

I whispered to stee to get his attention and we watched the girl read. I knew she was way too young for the book, but I thought about what I kind of books I read at her age, and I probably would have read something like my book. The little girl walked over to her mother, who was browsing another section. We shamelessly followed her and stood nearby like the worst secret service agents in the world.

“Mom, did you see this one?” she asked.

“Yeah, I read the back.”

“It looks good, doesn’t it?”

“It does. Yes.”

Then the girl skipped down the aisle, hugging my book to her chest.

With pride, I gingerly removed the stack of books away from the Sedaris, preparing to sign the remaining seven copies. Then the little girl saw me standing with a stack of the other books. She looked at me like I’d caught her stealing.

I didn’t want to be That Guy. I didn’t want to scare her. I just wanted to offer to sign her copy.

“Are you going to get that?” I asked in my friendliest kid voice.

“No!” she shouted, shoving the book back at me before running away.

Cost myself another sale. I had to get away from my books.

While signing that stack, a woman at the customer service counter said, “Your friend was here earlier.” I figured she was mistaking me for someone else, so I nodded. The woman continued. “She held up a book and shouted, ‘My friend wrote this! My friend wrote this!'” I laughed, knowing that one of my friends must have stopped by.

We spent another half hour on the second floor overlooking the paperback table, watching people read the back of the book and put it down, or lean just over it to read another. It was a pretty fun game, even though not one book was chosen during the time we were there.

I went to the Virgin Megastore on Sunset and signed their copies. My old friend the Music geek was there, and he stared at the book’s cover for a few minutes before wandering away.

I had a message when I got home from my friend Katey: “I was in the bookstore today, and I was all, ‘My friend wrote this! My friend wrote this!’ and the lady was like, ‘Okay.'”

Then I got another call yesterday from Liz, who said she went to the same table at the Grove, after I had signed their books, and watched a woman read the back of my book. She waited for a second, before saying, “That book is really good.”

She pretended to read another book, but just couldn’t hold back before adding, “I know the author.”

Then she forced herself away from the table, and the woman put the book down and walked away. I love how proud everyone is of the book. Other people have written to tell me they walked around the bookstore proudly beaming, telling everyone they could that they knew a real author of a real book. Or like Mopie, they walked around with a weird smile plastered to their faces. This is a really fun time.

I plan on book-spying at a few more places. I wouldn’t think that watching people approach and then pass by my book would be such a good time.

But there are other books on the planet besides mine, and they all need to be sent to Oakland, so…

Here’s a recent article about the Oakland Public Library donations.

And, as promised: the newest cool kids!

Sarah writes:

[readermail]Hi.

I’ve spent a disturbingly long time forgetting to write and tell you that you got me to donate Life of Pi to the main branch. I picked it because it makes me happy when people read novels, and because there was a huge backup on the reserve list for it. I’m an English teacher in Japan, and it makes me feel good to think that someone on the other side of the world is getting off the waiting list a little sooner. And I have a personalized, hand-signed letter that I’m going to treasure forever.

You can link to my stupid fanfic livejournal if you want.[/readermail]

It cracks me up when you guys are so self-deprecating.

Meeta writes:
[readermail]I was wondering if you would post something about the current situation for the Free Library of Philadelphia, which, like Oakland, is losing funding. More information can be found on this page on the library’s site.

Bill sent:

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets
Hondo and Fabian
The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth[/readermail]

More letters from librarians:

[readermail]Hello. A weblog friend of mine introduced your stuff to me and I love it! But, my main reason for writing is that I am extremely impressed with your book drive for the Oakland public library. I’m a librarian (or aspiring to be-grad student who works at a library) and I got seriously giddy when I read the Oakland PL press release. With libraries EVERYWHERE reeling from budget cuts at the state and national level, it’s gratifying for us in the profession to know that people out there still care about their libraries. Here in New York state, Gov. Pataki tried to cut millions of dollars from libraries to balance the state budget. People protested and the legislature reinstated the money. Then, just as we were all breathing a little easier, Gov. Pataki VETOED the legislature’s decision and vowed to put the cuts back in (the asshole) BUT, and this is the great part, people here in NY state were so angry at this that the legislature vetoed the veto and the money was restored! Ha! Take that Gov. Pataki! Stories like this and yours keep us motivated.Thank you for caring and getting the word out.[/readermail]

Michelle writes:

[readermail]Thank you so much for placing the link to Glenn O. Swing’s bookdrive on your site. As of today, we’ve gotten 24 donations from the wishlist and lots more that wasn’t even on the list! The school is beyond thrilled and I’m very touched by people’s generosity to a struggling inner-city school. We’ve put book plates in each donated book denoting that it was a gift from a specific person during the book drive. I’ve also sent thank you letters as the school receives the donations.

I cannot begin to thank you enough for your help. You’ve made a wonderful difference, not only in Oakland, but also for an elementary school in northern Kentucky.[/readermail]

Today’s classic entry is for Squishette Drew, who asked for the old Left Brain/ Right Brain.

Please donate a book to Oakland

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