Hello to U.K. Readers, and to My Childhood Self

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Do you ever wish you could go back in time to tell your childhood self that its dreams would actually come true?

I’ve just finalized my book tour dates with my UK publisher, Viking/Penguin. I’ll be in London and environs the week of March 19, 2012.  U.K readers, I would love to meet as many of you as possible in person! Of course, I’ll remind you again closer to the date.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be traveling to Britain to promote QUIET. When I was a kid, my parents took us to England for two weeks every summer. On each trip, we spent endless blissful hours in the London bookshops, stocking up on British children’s books. (My absolute favorites were the “Autumn Term” series by Antonia Forest. Have any of you read them?) I always wanted to be a writer myself, to earn my spot on those storied British bookshelves.

I don’t even know if the stores we visited still exist — I remember Hatchards and Foyles best — but those names are forever engraved in my memory. In the decades before Amazon, these shops were gateways to a world that was at once dreamier and  more sophisticated than the suburban Long Island from whence we had come. The photo above is of Blackwells bookshop, an Oxford institution. That was one of my family’s favorite places too.

I wish I could tell my childhood self that I am finally returning to Britain, this time as an author.

What did you dream of when you were a kid?


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12 Comments

  1. Luna on 28.03.2011 at 15:25 (Reply)

    Is the ‘Autumn Term’ series still in print? I love British Children’s Stories. I used to read The Naughtiest Girl in the School series as well as other Enid Blyton books. I also have a sneaky feeling as soon as you step foot on British soil your childhood self will come rushing out quite easily.

  2. Sam on 28.03.2011 at 17:26 (Reply)

    I had a day just like that two summers ago. Not NEARLY as cool (i mean, wow! my childhood self would love to go to london as an author too! congrats!!), but still. It was around 9am, and I was sitting on the floor of my garage screenprinting t-shirts. For some reason, screenprinting, to me, had always been this “difficult”, super cool thing… and then all of a sudden I was just doing it one morning in my garage. I was covered in paint and I made a huge mess, but my prints came out gorgeous and I knew my inner self was proud of me.

  3. Susan Cain on 28.03.2011 at 20:29 (Reply)

    @ Luna, I’m pretty sure they recently re-released “Autumn Term,” which was the first in a series of four. I too read the Naughtiest Girl in the School and all the different Enid Blyton series! But you won’t believe how sophisticated the Autumn Term books are — the characters are as vivid and well-drawn as anything you’d get in adult literature, and I still think of them all the time, as if they were actual childhood friends.

    @Sam -Thx! and do you have any pictures from your screenprinting morning? Would love to see them!

  4. Valerie on 29.03.2011 at 05:19 (Reply)

    As a child, I dreamed of being a teacher. I have been that and more! I am currently a school librarian. But the best thing that I have been is a mother and now a grandmother! Being able to teach and watch my children as they grew up exceeded all my experiences as being “the teacher” in a classroom full of other people’s children. Don’t get me wrong! I love other people’s children and being their teacher! But it really caught me off guard when I realized that being mom was the best.

  5. Mark on 29.03.2011 at 07:46 (Reply)

    While I have not been in the stores you mention, I do know the feeling. If you ever get the chance, spending an afternoon thinking your way thru the Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle is just a period of peace.

    My wife and I get out there every other year, and that bookstore has a permanent place on the agenda.

  6. Susan Cain on 29.03.2011 at 07:52 (Reply)

    @Mark, thx for the tip! I’m now adding Elliot Bay to a list of possible visits for US book tour.

  7. BeLikeMichael on 29.03.2011 at 10:57 (Reply)

    As a child, I would dream that I could go under the stairs (with my all my favorite books in tow) and enter all the wonderful worlds I had read about. Now I’m older, am married with kids, a dog and a fish and pretty much nothing’s changed, except I don’t fit under the stairs as easily, especially with both kids with me.

    I heart

    1. Susan Cain on 29.03.2011 at 12:36 (Reply)

      I wanted to go under the stairs too! We didn’t have that kind of house, though.

  8. BeLikeMichael on 29.03.2011 at 10:59 (Reply)

    (continued, since I (or my offspring) hit “Enter” too soon.)

    …I heart bookstores.

  9. Lina on 30.03.2011 at 01:57 (Reply)

    Blackwells in Oxford still very much exists - only 20 miles from where I live. In London, Foyles still exists and there’s a huge, huge, Waterstones on Piccadilly which is bliss to spend time in.

  10. Susan Cain on 30.03.2011 at 12:53 (Reply)

    Thx, Lina! I’ve just been in touch with my UK editor and he says he’ll look for signings in each of the bookstores I mentioned. I’m glad to know about Waterstones too. Hope to meet you next year.

  11. Judy on 04.04.2011 at 08:46 (Reply)

    Susan, I went to England as a college student and it has been my spiritual home ever since though I don’t get there often enough these days.

    I think it was my childhood reading that prepared me to feel so at home there. Ah…the bookshops…irresistable…especially museum shops. Even with Amazon there is nothing better than browsing than browsing the British Museum’s or the National Portrait Gallery’s shelves.

    Congrats on getting booked into London for your book tour!

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